Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Vancouver day one

My flight is quite early, at 10.30 am. Thankfully the airport isn’t as far out of town as in Denver. Twenty minutes is all I need to get there.

I’ve got TSA pre again. Yippee! Not that I’m complaining, but I still wonder why. Is it a lottery or is there some sort of rational procedure?

I’m doing the eating brekkie close to the gate thing again. This time at a brewery-owned pub: Rogue Ales Public House. But I’m foregoing my usual side of Jack Daniels. I don’t even have a beer.  The relatively early hour isn’t the only reason. I’m not feeling too great. Too many strong beers over too long a period yesterday.

Breakfast is a standard two eggs and bacon-centred dish. Bacon is exactly what I need at a time like this. And lots of coffee. Lots and lots.

The weather has turned vile: cold, windy and a little snow. Great. I’ll be making the hop to Vancouver in a little propeller aircraft which means I have to walk over the tarmac. It isn’t pleasant.

For the first half of the journey, cloud veils the ground. It suddenly clears and a knife-sharp view of the coastal plain, backed by the Cascade Mountains, emerges. For once I’ve a window seat and I snap merrily away.  As we near Vancouver, clumps of timber clot every waterway. Never seen that before.

The airport is fairly central and I’m soon at my hotel, Auberge Vancouver. It looks very posh. When I open my room door, my flabber is once again gasted: I’ve got another suite. Even nicer than the last in Denver, with its ridiculous views of the harbour and city. And there’s my box of books sitting on the counter. What more could I ask for?

My talk isn’t until 7 pm but Jeff Longland, one of the home brewers who helped organise it, is picking me up at 1 pm. We’re visiting a few breweries before kickoff.

We head for a part of town that used to be called Brewery Creek and is once again home to several breweries. We start at Main Street Brewing which, appropriately enough, is housed in a former brewery building.

The tasting room is simple, but functional: plain white walls and wooden tables with a bar area separating it from the brewery. It looks brand new, which in pretty much is, having been open less than a year. I'm excited to see four beer engines. (It's sad what gets you excited at my age. I found some fascinating turnips yesterday.) I opt for a Sessional IPA from one of them. I’m not making the same mistake as yesterday: too strong for too long.

The hate shit-balls thrown at Session IPA baffle me. Tasty beers you can enjoy drinking without fear of permanent brain damage. I'm as big a pisshead as the next bloke. And he's Josef Stalin. (Or is it Winston Churchill? I often get those two confused.) But sometimes a change of pace is a good idea. Or a liver transplant.

We have a quick tour of the brewery, which is shinily impressive and was made not far away. They’ve already had to buy more fermenters to keep pace with demand. No oak barrels this time but lots of lovely new firkins. I'd take one home with me, but it wouldn't fit in my bag.

A few more people turn up, including Tak who’s recently started brewing at Parallel 49, the town’s biggest brewery. After Molson.

We’re soon heading down the road to Brassneck, which is only a few blocks away. It’s quite a different sort of place, though also quite new at just about a year old. The tasting room is very much about growler fills, which make up a big chunk of sales. There is no bottling.

Seating is at the rear, a separated from the brewery by a collage wall of scrap wood. Great look.

In the brewery at the side and rear, things are much more cramped than up the road. And it isn’t filled – though filled it is – with the usual stainless kit. They’re three open fermenters and a wooden vat. Dead cool. I’ve seen neither in a North American brewery before.

The odd firkin lazes between the fermenters. In the cold room there’s one filled with 1987 Boddington’s ELM and another with 1923 Courage Stout. Wonder where they got those recipes?

Before trawling up at The Cobalt, where I'm eventing, we drop by Pizzeria Farina, conveniently located right next door. It’s a classy and simple, pizza joint. Not bad pizza at all. And they sell decent beer. What more could you ask?

The Cobalt is an old hotel with a colourful past, having long been home to "exotic" entertainment. It's now a grungy pub/music venue. It reminds me a bit of the Esplanade in St. Kilda, though without the glue-like residue masquerading as a carpet.

The event is in a side room called the Boxcar. It doesn't look quite finished. And isn't heated. On the upside, there is a screen and a projector, which is all I need. And three pins of beer. Two versions of Barclay Perkins East India Porter and one of Boddington's ELM.

When it's time for me to do my talking thing there's a pretty good crowd - 60 or 70 - which packs the place out. It's an easy talk to give. I've done it a few times before. And I wrote it out of my head. I bounce off on a couple of tangents not really part of the talk as written. I usually do that, when I have time. I've a stack of good beer-history stories.

A few of us continue on to the Alibi Room for more beer and a bite to eat. I'm surpised that my hotel is close enough to walk to. Which is what I do when they throw us out.

A Laphroaig is again my late-night travelling companion to the land of dreams.

Buy my book.

The Home Brewer's Guide to Vintage Beer.

Rogue Ales Public House
7000 NE Airport Way
Portland, Oregon.
Phone: +1 503-282-2630

Auberge Vancouver
837 West Hastings Street,

Main Street Brewing
261 E 7th Ave,
BC V5T 0B4.
Phone: +1 604-336-7711

Brassneck Brewery
2148 Main St,
BC V5T 3C5.
Phone: +1 604-259-7686

Pizzeria Farina
915 Main St
BC V6A 2V8.
Phone: +1 604-681-9334

Cobalt Hotel
917 Main St,
Phone:+1 604-685-2825

Alibi Room
157 Alexander St
BC V6A 1B8.
Phone: +1 604-623-3383


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting the travelogue, Ron, always a treat and full of such useful tips. And hilarious.

Did you try the Sticke Alt in cask???

Also, very funny aside about "the Espy" in Melbourne. Excatly what I remember about it - sticky grunge on the floor. I made the mistake of visiting first in daylight.



Ron Pattinson said...


no, I didn't try the Sticke. A bit too strong for the time of day.

I thought others would remember the Esplanade, too. Great pub, but what was that on the floor?

Anonymous said...

That top picture is of Mercer Island, east of Seattle, rather than anything in or near Vancouver.

Ron Pattinson said...

I was wondering where exactly the first picture was from. It popped out just after the clouds cleared.