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Canada, February 20, 2008

Brewpub Roadtrip: Vancouver, Canada!

A whole town of microbrews called me north

dew worm bait - canada
Brett advertising for love
trash border
Dirty border post
nice view
Stunning beauty outside
I'm at Lucky Lab in downtown Portland, Oregon, or PDX as its known around here. The conversation is good and the beer, even better. Lucky Lab, like almost every self-respecting bar in PDX, brews its own beer.

With my glass full of hops, my mind on malt, I learn that I'm about to have a three-day weekend. Its President's Day and I'm in Portland. What to do? Where to go? I know - a Brewpub Roadtrip to Vancouver! And not as in Vancouver, Washington, but Vancouver as in Canada!

At first, I was tempted to make the five-hour road trip to Canadian brewing heaven solo. I wanted to go that bad. I figured this might be my only international trip in 2008, and I didn't want to miss the chance to cross another border.

Its not that this would be my first trip to Canada - I went to Montréal with my family long ago. But this would be my first trip as an adult and I was excited. Both because I'd heard it was a beautiful city, filled with amazing sights, but also because it is another bastion of good beer.

Luckily, I was saved from a long drive alone by Brett, of Portland Brew Tours. He leapt at the chance for a roadtrip, especially a beer-focused one. So at oh-too-early on Saturday morning, we pointed the Zoom! Zoom! north, dropped in a selection of tunes, and became Twenth-Century motion.

In our movement, "sped" would be a relative term as the road was not East Coast quick. Left-coasters drive a bit slower, and the farther north we went, the more relaxed they were. Not the state police though. From many an overpass or curve they were all in hot pursuit, but not of we.

Brett and I made it to the border easy-quick, only to be greeted by long and slow. It took almost an hour to transverse into Canada, through the greenest no-man's land I've ever crossed. This was not Cambodia by any means. Still, I was dismayed to see a dirty storm grate marking the actual boundary.

Anyway, on we drove, through gray fields and overcast skies till an urban gym opened along the skyway. It was Vancouver, Canada, and she is beautiful. Nestled in a bay with majestic peaks all around, dwarfing a good attempt at Hong Kong vertical living, the city was a shocking display of industrialization this far north.

It was only when I realized that this was Canada's main Pacific port, did I understand how a Canadian town could be so big. I forget that Canada is comparable in per-capita wealth to the United States, if only 1/10th the population. With the urban buzz, it felt like most of that population lived in Vancouver.

But enough about the city, on to the beers!


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Canada, February 19, 2008

VBC Brewpub Tour - Granville Island Brewing

Where's the beer tube?
On our Brewpub Roadtrip to Vancouver, Brett and I rolled into Granville Island Brewing a little early for the locals. Apparently, the pub doesn't start serving until noon, so we bought tickets for the beer tour and went looking for brunch.

Returning at the appointed hour, we went on the world's shortest brewery tour. Granville only brews small batches at the brewpub, its major production facilities are elsewhere. Still, we had a fun viewing of mashers, hopers, and other assorted empty steel containers until the real fun began - beer tasting.

With six little beers in front of us, Brett and I shared tasting tips and tales with an assortment of Canadians and a token American couple. Quickly, the topic turned to politics and a favorite quote was heard:

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Canada, February 18, 2008

VBC Brewpub Tour - Dockside Brewing

no good
Skip Dockside Brewing
I don't know what we could have expected from a brewpub located in a hotel restaurant. The scene wasn't promising when we walked in and felt a serious tourist vibe. Still, Brett and I were on a Vancouver Brewpub Tour and so we were determined to drink at the Dockside Brewing restaurant.

Again, we got a taster of beers, this time six or eight unremarkable and tasteless beers. Wait, there was a taste to the pilsner - it was foul! Now it could've been just a bad line or the actual taste of the beer, but neither Brett nor I could finish the schooner.

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Canada, February 17, 2008

VBC Brewpub Tour - Yaletown Brewing

cheers everyone
Cheers to good beer
After we broke breakfast rules, Brett and I headed out to Yaletown Brewing for the next stop on our Vancouver Brewpub Tour.

Sadly, at first we were denied seating by Yaletown. Seems they require a food purchase if you want to drink beer in the restaurant. Full from breakfast, we declined and were seen to the bar. For our troubles, we got a free round, quickly cooling our frustration and making the beer taste even better.

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Canada, February 16, 2008

VBC Brewpub Tour - Steamworks Brewing

beer focused
Focused on beer
Wow! Steamworks Brewing has a stunning view of Vancouver Bay and the snow-capped peaks that rise from the water beyond it. Better yet, Steamworks backs up that view with stunning beers.

I fell in instant love with the espresso stout, a dark, chocolaty, coffee beer that both woke my taste buds and my mind. Brett, ever the hops man, went with the IPA and was equally impressed. Both beers embodied the majestic scenery - both, distinctive, memorable.

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Canada, February 15, 2008

VBC Brewpub Tour - Dix Brewing

drink up
Beer geek heaven
While I was not impressed with Dix Brewing, Brett was in total beer man heaven. In fact, our notes from Dix is entitled "FEST!!!"

First, every beer was all hopes, his favorite. Then, the master brewer was just hanging out at the bar and Brett bonded with him over a long, very beer geek conversation. I swear they were even comparing hops grown on different sides of Mount Hood.

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