What an interesting year for Beer in Vancouver. In the first 6 months of the year we have seen a New Beer Bar open up, and an established local favorite shut down and some great seasonal releases hit the market.
Firstly DIX Brewpub shutting it’s doors is one less brewpub for the city. Derrick is a great guy and liked by all who had come into contact with him, and his IPA’s were the most consistent of any brewpub in the city. But he left his best beer till last, which was his Grand Cru Belgian. This beer won a peoples choice award at a Driftwood Cask event, and hovered just under 10%. Derick was not scared to go big or go home with his beers. Cask Thursdays @ Dix are no more, as Yaletown Brewpub is not the same vibe, though the Yaletown Beers are very good.
Rogue Wet Bar has opened up as the sister pub to the always busy Steamworks brewpub. Rogue was the Trans-Continental and one that I had never entered myself, as I thought it was a train station restaurant. The new bar has 20 taps of some great beers, along with the Steamworks seasonal. Okay look its still ‘Trendy’ but on a visit to the bar I am impressed. It is still a Restaurant after all, but there is a great selection at the bar. There are beers from Crannog, Tree, Dogfish, Pyramid, Deschutes, Phillips, Howe Sound, so it provides the gammut of beers for any Vancouver beer snob. Not sure it would replace the Alibi Room, but it has TV’s so could be an alternative to St Augustines on the drive.
There is definitely room for more beer bars in Vancouver instead of strictly ‘Brewpubs’ owned by the Mark James Group. Rogue Wetbar is in a great spot for tourists, and locals alike. If they can train their staff to be friendlier and less arrogant than Steamworks it could be a hit.
Howe Sound has taken the early lead for brewery releasing some great seasonals. The Howe Sound Pothole Filler was a great example of an Imperial Stout that could match some of those South of the border. Hitting in at 9-10% it was a weighty monster and hope to see it again next year. The current release of Imperial Hefeweizen named ‘King Heffy’ is one of my favorite beers on tap at the moment at 7.7%.
Tree Brewing released their Seasonal release Double Hop Head to much acclaim from Vancouver beer locals, and though it was meant to run out weeks after release it is still available in June. It was an 8% Imperial IPA, though more of a hopped up Red Ale . Tree also released their Doppelbock, and a Serendipity Series of beers aged in Whiskey barrels. Due to the limited release of the serendipity series I have no comment one way or the other.
Lets call it for what it is. Its a brewpub on the corner of Granville Island with amazing views. The beer was shit, and everyone in the beer circle thought it was a joke for beer. They hired a new brewer Daniel Knibbs (ex-Dead Frog) and everyone thought it was going to improve dramatically. On my several visits to the brewpub, I never saw any other beer ‘geeks’ there, and I thought the new beers were getting better but overall pretty watered down beers from the previous brewer. Knibbs is no longer at Dockside (reasons I’m not sure of, but I can guess) so we can only suspect that Dockside wants to go back to brewing piss-weak Honey Lagers and Hibiscus beers. So now everyone can stop blowing smoke up the ass of this place, so it can go back to being the insignificant piece of the Vancouver beer scene it has always been.
It would be great to see the city get behind more bars that serve either craft beer or good beer, and get away from all this ‘Cask’ mentality. I’m not a huge fan of Cask beer anymore, as we can all agree its either good or complete crap. There are many places in this city that need more coverage for their beer, whether its from BC or not. I don’t go to bars because they have cask beer but if they serve good beer. I’m sure some people are on the other side of the fence than me, and good on you.
Vancouver Tap Bars
Its great to see Rogue Wet Bar join the Beer bar scene. SO now we have Alibi Room with 26 taps, Augustines with 40, and Rogue with 20. SO we can say there are two good beer bars in which to watch sport in this city. Yes some beer lovers actually love watching World Cup Soccer or Hockey with decent beers. Have watched several world cup games at Augustines and the atmosphere has been great with excellent beer on tap. But its good to know on those nights when Alibi is packed, that we have choices in Vancouver in where to drink.
So long Dockside & Dix, but Welcome Rogue Wet Bar..
A big shout out to the Beer & Butter tarts Blog aggregate site developed by some beer people in Toronto. This blog is on their site, as are countless other interesting blogs.