Wednesday, June 12, 2013

beer column

my notes from last evening's on the coast with matthew sitting in for stephen:
 
There are so many places to drink beer in Vancouver and surrounding area. And more breweries and tasting rooms expected to open up this year. What sets them apart from each other? 
 
There are breweries that just brew beer for bottling and supplying to restaurants and bars, there are breweries that are combining bottling, kegging and tasting rooms, there are nanobreweries, microbreweries, macrobreweries, there are older breweries and newer breweries and there are brewpubs, just to start the list.

Let's start on Main Street.  R&B Brewing is one of Vancouver's oldest breweries, opening their doors in 1997 at their current location at 54 East 4th Avenue at Quebec Street, just West of Main Street, in the old Brewery Creek district of East Vancouver. Rick and Barry, the R and the B in R&B used to brew for the big boys back in the day and left to pursue brewing better beer on their own. And they have thrived. Always pushing for new ways to be part of the community R&B brewed the first ever Pride beer last year - a golden ale called G'Ale - which was also their first beer bottled in 355 ml bottles and sold in six packs. They have since added the Raven Cream Ale and East Side Bitter to their six pack collection. This Spring R&B has rebranded with some great East Van inspired art, they brewed one of the CBC Band Beers - You say Barley we say Rye - and have started doing growler fills on Saturdays. Check their website to see which beers are on offer on any given Saturday, then show up between 2 and 6 with your cash. They have growlers to sell, and will fill other breweries growlers too.
 
Opening soon right on Main Street, at Sixth Avenue, will be Brassneck Brewing, the brainchild of Alibi Room owner Nigel Springthorpe and former Steamworks brewer and multi-award winning Conrad Gmoser. Brassneck will be a brewery, with a tasting room, but their niche market is going to be growlers and kegs. They will not be bottling any of their beers. You'll have to go to Brassneck to try their beers.
 
Jumping over to a neighbourhood that has seen a surge in the number of breweries in the past year or so we end up in cedar cove.  Where's cedar cove?   Its the part of East Vancouver's Grandview Woodland area, making up it's Northern tip (Franklin Street to Burrard Inlet and Clark Drive to Nanaimo Street), which has seen enormous growth over the past year. There used to just be little Storm Brewing on Commercial Drive at Franklin, then Coal Harbour Brewing Co. moved in, followed by Parallel 49 and nanobrewery Powell Street Brewing
 
Powell Street Brewing is located at Powell and Salsbury, a half block west of Victoria Drive and Parallel 49 is a couple of blocks away just East of Victoria Drive on Triumph Street at Semlin. So close you can go visit both in one trip! Be sure to bring your growlers as they both do growler fills. And plan to spend some time trying the brews in their tasting rooms.
 
Powell Street is a nanobrewery, which is a lot like what it sounds like, a very small brewery. A "microbrewery", is technically defined as any brewery producing less than 300,000 hectolitres (hl) of beer annually. It is generally accepted that a nanobrewery produces less than one tenth of that, or 3000 hl, annually. Powell Street has a 3.5 hectolitre system that can brew 700 litres of beer on a brew day. With numbers as small as that, they run out of beer from time to time, so check their website before you go visit to make sure they'll be open and serving beer. They are open, when they have beer, from Wednesday through Saturday from 1:00 until 7:00. Currently they are out of beer - they'll be back on Saturday with their award-winning Old Jalopy Pale ale, the best beer in Canada for 2013 - no wonder it keeps running out!
 
Alternatively, Parallel 49 Brewing up the street began with a 300 hl system, expanded seven times over its first year in business (happy anniversary btw, which was May 11th) and now boasts a 1,130 hectolitre system. They have no plans to stop expanding. You can find Parallel 49 beers throughout the city, in 650 ml bottles, in six packs, on tap, on cask - its everywhere! My favourite place to drink it though is the tasting room, right there at the brewery. And the tasting room is always busy - Vancouver has definitely embraced this new endeavour. Parallel 49 is open daily from noon until 9:00 p.m. for free tasters, sales of 12oz sleeves, growler fills and bottle sales.

Beer picks:
- The East Side Bitter from R&B brewing
- The Old Jalopy Pale Ale from Powell Street
- The Lord of the Hops from Parallel 49
 
And for an update on the tasting room situation in Vancouver, visit Paddy Treavor's blog

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