Category Archives: Restaurants

Craft Beer Market, the Vancouver Edition

I am a little slow on the draw so while I was aware of the fact that a behemoth tap room opened a location in Vancouver, BC it took me until last week to actually visit and, to be honest, I only went in because I was at nearby Legacy liqour store and managed to snag a free parking space.

Craft Beer Market

Craft

The Vancouver edition of Craft Beer Market is located in Olympic Village (False Creek) in the gorgeous Salt Building. Before I get to the modern incarnation of the building here is a little history courtesy of Scout Magazine

“Thanks to its crisp, polished finishes and bold color scheme, the Salt Building could easily be mistaken for a brand new structure leaning on our city’s penchant for industrial design. The truth, however, is that this spot is the real deal featuring a long history that reflects much on our city’s changing industrial landscape and operations. 

Built circa 1930, the original 13,000 square-foot space served in partnership with the Bay Area salt trade in San Francisco, whereby unrefined salt was shipped to Vancouver for secondary processing and extraction… The structure features a complex roof truss system bearing weight onto numerous columns, with a large clerestory of windows brightening the long stretch of working space.” 

Craft Beer Market Kegs

Craft Beer Market Inside

Craft Beer Market a self-described ‘premium casual restaurant’ boasts 140 taps with over 100 of said taps devoted to beer, Canada’s largest selection. The sheer logistics of the volume of beer being tapped here is staggering and the sight of a mountain of tapped kegs sprouting silver tentacles, filled with numerous beer lines, is worth the visit alone.

Now I have to interject with a bit of a personal hang-up before I continue. Typically, I am not a big fan of big. Big beer, big box stores, big vehicles, big homes, (big hair is cool though), I feel like it all screams over-compensation or, even worse, it is simply big for the sake of being, well, big. As I sat down to peruse the menu I did my best to shelve this bias and be the objective blogger I was destined to be.

Craft Beer Menu

Lo’ and behold there are many beers on tap here so it is as advertised. Beers are broken down by style to help guests manage the mega-menu. Rotating guest taps and cask night on Tuesdays add some new items into the mix, while pre-chosen flights offer guidance to the overwhelmed – though the ‘what the locals drink’ menu boasting two Stanley Park beers did set off some alarm bells.

Flight at Craft

Odd as it may sound in this veritable sea of options I had a really hard time choosing something to drink, not because there were so many beers I wanted to try but rather just the opposite because there were so few.

The beer menu was predictable in the sense there were no surprises to be found.  It was like walking into a provincial liqour store and seeing the familiar beers we know and love from the familiar brewers we know and love and feeling that slight twinge of disappointment that there is nothing to get excited over, nothing different to be discovered. For the non-craft beer nerd it must seem like a cornucopia of choice but for the veteran it felt a little stale. Granted the usual suspects are on tap so if draught versus bottle turns your crank you will be pleased.

I settled on an Elysian Oddland Series Spiced Pear Ale, a hoppy ale, and the hubby tried Ommegang Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout, a pretty standard stout. Overall, both beers were pretty middling. When our server asked what we thought I mentioned some thoughts on the Elysian but they pretty much tuned out so I figured we were not going to talk shop.

Elysian Spiced Pear Ale

Game of Thrones Take the Black Stout

Personally, the whole thing felt a little corporate lacking in the ambiance, engaged staff and unique and/or challenging beer options that really make a tap room worth its’ salt. While I understand the need to have the majority of beers be something accessible I felt like there was no heart behind brand, that behind the beautiful facade there is no real love of craft beer here.

Beer on Tap

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The Beer Geek Guide’s to Las Vegas – Part 3

This is the final post in my series on finding craft beer in Sin City. For this last entry I want to focus on places to drink craft beer and eat good food i.e. something more substantive than pretzels and peanuts and more creative than wings and fries.

Far too often, I find that the lack of decent food options is a shortcoming of many full-kitchen breweries and tap rooms. People may come for the beer but if you provide them with great food they will be apt to stick around …this can lead to more beer drinking …back to more food ordering …and well anyway you can see how this could be construed as being good for business.

Not to flog a dead horse (as I have written this countless times) but craft beer lovers fundamentally get the foodie thing so go right ahead and tantalize the full spectrum of our taste buds with challenging food pairings, unusual and unexpected flavours, and good quality, well-crafted food to enhance our drinking experience.

One place in Vegas really impressed me with both their beer AND their food, La Cave in the Wynn. Initially I chose La Cave solely based on the food options, Steve Wynn is a vegan so every restaurant in the Wynn and the Encore has a veggie and gluten-free friendly menu but I was beyond pleasantly surprised when I found out they had a stellar craft beer menu as well.

With our dinner we tried two different beers from New Zealand’s MOA Brewing Company (my first kiwi beers!). First, their Imperial Stout a deep black brown stout with mocha coloured head. Medium bodied with a pleasant chocolate nose and a sweet/tart pinot noir finish. A very dry stout overall. Second, we tried their Breakfast beer a clear, pale gold ale with lots of stiff bright white head and effervescence. A little bit of stone fruit on the nose, very crisp to drink and light bodied with a cherry finish. A little bit wheat, a little bit pale ale and a little bit fruit beer.

I would also like to mention Slice of Vegas in Mandalay Bay as an eatery that  surprised me with their craft beer menu. We headed here to grab some late night vegan pizza and lo and behold once again found ourselves staring down an impressive bottle selection. The food might not be extraordinary but the pizza quality was pretty good, the pesto and olive oil garlic bread was fantastic and they give you an extra bulb of baked garlic in case you want to kick it up a notch!

To accompany dinner we tried the Polygamy Porter from Utah’s Wasatch Brewery and Moose Drool Brown Ale from Montana’s Big Sky Brewing Company (my first craft beers from Utah and Montana!). These beers were not that dissimilar from one another in appearance and in taste; both had good clarity, deep brown colour and a little off-white head. Polygamy Porter had more of a coffee nose and a bit more of a bitter finish than the Moose Drool, which had a touch of sweetness and an overall more malty profile. Both quite drinkable beers that paired well with lots of sea salt and garlic.

Finally, for those of you of the more carnivorous persuasion, Todd English P.U.B. in the Aria has a good tap selection as well as a varied menu with lots of seafood.


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