Barley Mowat 

Archive for December, 2011

The Year That Was

with 6 comments

So 2011 is wrapping up, and I suspect we’ll soon see a bevy of beer blog entries containing lists of “top ten best beers of the year” and what-not. That’s not really my style, so I’ll leave that to other people. Better people. People who can count to ten. And people who can talk about breweries not named Driftwood.

Instead I’m going to get all nostalgia-y. Not only is 2011 ending, but it’s also just over a year since I started this blog in the first place. My very first post is from September 2010, and boy have things changed locally since then. My goal here was twofold. First to reduce the amount of inbox clutter I was causing my pals with weekly (or more frequent) updates on local casks, what beers I’d bought, or just naval gazing about the latest celebrity breakup. Second was to rant about how much YVR beer culture sucks, and how much better PDX is.

Portland is still the bomb as far as the beer-obsessed lifestyle goes, but while their awesomeness has been pretty much stagnant at “perfect” for the past 12 months, Vancouver has moved significantly up the beer list to “you know, not bad” from “alright, if it takes off its glasses and undoes the pony tail.”

Think about it. A year (or so) ago, you had to be an insider to know where to find good beer. Sure, The Alibi was in Lonely Planet, but beyond that were did you get good beer? You had to ask a local, and then you’d find out about St Augustines. Or one of the lesser beer bars downtown. But after that you were kinda screwed.

Today, the procedure is much easier: walk into a bar and ask for their best local brew. Increasingly, pretty much every licensed establishment has caved a little and carries at least one good beer. And they sell quite well, if I’m being told the truth. Also, several new places have opened with an eye to being honest to goodness tap houses. Smiley’s and Malone’s lead the charge here.

Sure, I’ve already called down kudos on the Donnelly Group before, but what about Earls now serving Howe Sound beers? Remember when you had to go to the Rail to get a HS brew? Freaking Cactus Club (and yes, I must always say that name with an F-word in front of it) now has Elysian on tap. Elysian. At Fucking Cactus Club. The world has ended. Sure, the wait staff have no idea what it is, and seem confused when your beer order continues past “a glass of,” but it’s there and you can have it.

So, I guess what I’m saying is that the battle for good beer accessibility has passed the turning point. We’re not done, but the hard part is over. From here on in it’s just mopping up isolated cells of resistance. It’s pretty much time to declare victory and have a party.


Honestly, I stopped watching the news after this. There wasn’t a point what with the war being over.

And with that note, I’m officially retiring my page about where to find good beer in Vancouver. It’s out of date, anyways. Instead, I am introducing a much, much, much more Barley Mowat styled list. I’m borrowing a page from Mr Stephen Colbert, and creating an On Notice List. This list is for restaurants, bars, and companies in BC that can–and should–do better. Yes, the war for good beer in BC has officially reached the point where it’s easier to point out the other side than to cheerlead our own.

Now, this isn’t just a list of places that have shit beer on tap. It’s a list of places that I would like to go to, but don’t because of their pro shit-beer-on-tap policy. I’m not trying to shut down every shithole in town and thereby deny meathead rednecks places to go to, drop jagger bombs, get fucked up and hit on scantily clad 75% fake giggly she-douchebags. These places need to exist precisely because they keep those same meatheads and douchettes out of the quality locales. This is why you will not see the Shark Club on this list. It’s like a roach motel, only with more neon and silicone. And it lets them check out.

So, here goes. Places that can, and should do better for beer. This list is not exclusive. Let me know if there’s anywhere else that I should be looking to add here. To everyone on this list, a few pointers:

1. Granville Island is owned by, and brewed by, Molson. It is not good beer.
2. Whistler is even worse.
3. Farking Cactus Club has better beer than you. Think about that for a second.

  • Mill Marine Bistro You’re advertising beer by price on the main page of your website, beside a picture of a waitress holding a jug of lager making a duck face. I rest my case. However, you also have one of the best patios in town. In fact, this applies for all the Daniel Group pubs. Game up, guys.
  • Relish Gastro Pub The central location and great outdoor space is balanced with 9 taps of pure, unadulterated shit beer.
  • The Galley @ Jericho Sailing Club Patio. Nuff said.
  • Wicklow Pub You know what’s 1/2 way around the seawall from my house, has decent food and a good view? The Wicklow. You know where I will never go into because of their beer list?
  • Charles Bar Okay, there are great pubs a block away, but every time I walk by I just want to sit on that patio. It’s gorgeous.

I was also considering adding the BC LDB to this list just because of their “Beer is a bulk commodity consumed by morons without the wherewithal to drink wine” approach to retail, but I think I’ll save them for something… special. Stay tuned.

Written by chuck

December 28th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

Posted in Beer and You

Alibi 300 Beer List

with 10 comments

As I’ve made a habit of doing, I had a buddy steal a copy of Nigel’s beer list so we could scan that sucker and put it online. This way you can look up those forgotten ales from last week, or e-vicariously take part if you were stuck on the rock during the festivities. Forgive the beer stains scattered throughout. Yeah, I thought you’d understand.

What took me so bloody long? I’m lazy, ok? So, very lazy… sorry–nodded off there for a bit.

Anyways, here she be. Enjoy.


Seriously, though… Perrin,
what’s up with the cover?

Written by chuck

December 22nd, 2011 at 10:45 am

Posted in Bars,Beer and You

Tagged with

300 and Counting

with 3 comments

If you’re surprised I haven’t posted about the impending Alibi Room 300th Taplist yet, then let me say I’m with you. What’s up with me?

Anywho, if you don’t already know, Nigel is doing his 300th Taplist next week, coincidentally about 100 taplists after his 200th celebration. However, instead of having one giant blowout evening with a lineup stretching down the block, he’s decided to split it into three nights starting Monday so as to give the most people the most chance to get in. And, of course, to give his registers the most chance to rake in that awesome, awesome, beer geek green. Now hey, not being critical here, Nigel needs that molah to buy weird beers with, which encourages those breweries to brew more weird beers, which in turn makes more beer for us. The ciiiiiircle of liiiiifeeee…

Aside: Not saying Nigel’s making a massive profit here, anything but. Despite the huge crowds, the margins on events like this remain fairly thin, with a good chunk of the cash going to entertainment (remember Rich Hope) as well as worthy charities like the Food Bank. Most of what’s left over pays for the very beer you’re drinking, but that was sort of my point: Buying craft/unique beer begets more craft/unique beer to buy.

I’ll be there at least on Tuesday, so keep an eye out for your favourite Bearded Beer Geek. 2nd Favourite? 3rd Favourite? 1st Somewhat likeable Beer Geek? Favourite somewhat-beer-related-guy-you’d-wave-to-from-across-the-street-but-not-actually-cross-the-street-to-talk-to? Well, fine, Mr. “I’m better than Chuck,” I’ll just wave to you from the uber-exclusive VIP express lineup that Nigel will invite me to. Right, Nigel? Nigel? Hello?

In preparation for this huge event, I’m assigning some beer homework for y’all. And no, it’s not the “drink some beer” type of homework. That’s just expected from you on a daily basis. No, this is reading based, but don’t fret, it’s reading *about* beer. Below are the menus from Nigel’s 100th and 200th events. Download them and peruse. Note please that these are not merely beer lists, but mini illustrated novels about beer and beer culture in BC. Stories about the breweries, anecdotes about brewmasters, streams of consciousness from Nigel, and little illustrations by Perrin. These are less menus and much more love poems to beer and beer culture. This is what makes the Alibi Room my favourite beer hall in town.

Well the massively awesome beer lineup doesn’t hurt, either.


Wow, just look at them… LOOK AT THEM! LOOOK!

Written by chuck

December 9th, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Posted in Bars

Tagged with