For my birthday weekend I decided to do further beer reconnaissance by visiting a couple of local ale purveyors, Yaletown Brewing Company (YBC) and BierCraft.
YBC, as I learned, is not just Youth Bowling Canada (insert varying images of my nerdy upbringing) but also a brew pub located in the heart of Yaletown in Vancouver, BC. A large space with a big patio, lots of flat screens, and a generous helping of bar stools. Yaletown Brewing Company reminds of chain microbreweries, like McMenamins pubs in Portland OR, and the requisite sports bar found in every hamlet/town/city in North America. It was a beautiful sunny afternoon but I was informed we could not drink on the patio unless we ordered food so we pulled up a stool at the bar. The ambiance is not really my taste but it seems like a lively place to grab a starter beer(s).
YBC has seven of the usual beer suspects in their line-up supplemented by one cask brew and a couple of seasonal ales – Oud Bruin and Framboise at the time of our visit. I had tried the seasonals (both very good) at Alibi Room so I opted for Mainland Lager and my drinking buddy opted for Downtown Brown. We both felt the beers were good but not great. Granted it is probably quite tough to brew an inspired lager but we had higher hopes for the Downtown Brown after trying the Oud Bruin. YBC seems like a great place to take your skittish mainstream beer drinking friends to ease them gently into the world of craft beer.
BierCraft on the other hand is not for the craft beer newbie. This stellar Belgian beer house boasts an impressive bottle list and a pretty decent tap list as well. The décor, well at least at the Cambie Street locale, is somewhat confused with a huge projector screen showing sports juxtaposed with intimate tables and a teeny-tiny patio. Honestly it felt like a bit of an identity crisis was going on – am I a sports bar or a tap house or both? However, the beers make up for any shortcomings in ambiance.
Navigating the beer menu can be a bit daunting so it is helpful they offer ‘flights to Belgium’ where you can sample four beers before making a serious commitment. All the Belgian-i-ness is buoyed with a smattering of local craft brews on tap and by the bottle for all those who may be panicked to locate an IPA. I have yet to meet a Belgian beer I don’t like so it is tough for me to comment on what to order but eight samples in and I was a pretty happy camper. Did I mention they have Belgian fries to nibble on with your beer? Nice.