Alright, so now that I have some amateurish Seal of Approvals to slap on things, I guess I’d better start using them, eh? Before we get into the more interesting reviews, let’s spend a few moments today and get the easy and obvious ones out of the way.
Before we get going, please do remember that I have no interest in ranking these businesses objectively. I am solely interested in sharing my incredbily beer-skewed version of reality with anyone who will listen. The criteria for making this list is quite straight forward: do I want to go there, or would I rather go somewhere else?
Bronze is a place I’ll happily pop in for a pint if I’m in the neighbourhood (eg Yeah, sure, why not?). Silver is a place that I will go out of my way to pop into (eg Sweet! Let’s go!). And Gold is, well, to be honest, Gold is reserved for The Alibi and St Augustines (eg Fuck yeah!).
For those wondering why your favourite pub is missing from this list, it’s likely either because it’s not in Vancouver (I’m a Vancouver snob, sorry), or that I’ve simply not heard of it (or plum forgot, I drink a lot).
For those wondering why your favourite pub has been considered but tossed aside, please remember what I just said above, but also consider that even Bronze is a pretty freaking good rating for a pub. This is a tough list to make, and just because I didn’t feel the need to put my good name (and anthropomorphic seal caricature) on your beloved establishment doesn’t mean it’s no good. It just means I’m likely not going back.
So, without further adieu, here are the businesses that have earned the coveted(?) Barley Mowat Seal of Approval (for pubs).
Once one of the stalwards of the craft beer movement, The Whip has been eclipsed by newer establishments. Brewery Creek’s resurgence in the craft beer scene leaves it posed to reclaim its former greatness, though.
Probably the best local brewpub, but the nearness and awesomeness of Rogue’s taplist begs the question: why bother? Railway Club
I love the Rail, but they need more great beer, and they need to change it up once in a while. Dockside
Food: decent but pricey. Beer: interesting but not great. Patio? Top three in town. The Bimini
A great oasis in the beer desert of the Kits strip. Too bad it turns into a nightclub around nine. Bitter
An interesting twist to the beer-focused restaurant scene, and a fantastic bottle list. Shame it’s five minutes from the Alibi. Second Door (Malone’s)
I used to absolutely fear coming here, now I’m only kinda scared. It remains to be seen how long the Second Door will stick to its craft beer guns. Brick & Barley (Incendio Pizza)
A tight tap list and decent pizza make this a decent backup for when the Alibi is full. New Oxford (aka Hooker’s Green)
Great Yaletown patio, but the beer list definitely needs some work. Biercraft Commercial
A little too focused on the more popular Belgians, and a little too close to St Augustine’s to seriously tempt me. London Pub
While effectively a Russell tied-house, that isn’t always a bad thing. Throw in casks on Fridays and good proximity to the best Italian cheese shop in town, and I’m down. Library Square
Great patio, decent food, and okay tap list. Just be sure to leave before the douchbag avalanche shows up in the evenings. Lamplighter
Exact same comment as Library Square. You’d think the Donnelly Group had a formula or something? Portland Craft
Truly a special place, with a rapidly rotating list of unusual PNW beers. Almost gold, guys. Keep it up. Tap & Barrel
PATIO. PATIO PATIO PATIO. (stupid glassware, slow service, blah food, okay tap list) PATIO PATIO! Darby’s Pub
I know, I almost don’t believe myself, but look at that tap list, and look at that patio. The attached beerstore only makes it even better. Biercraft Cambie
See what getting away from St Augustines does for you? I just like this location better. Rogue Waterfront
Combine the great food with the good patio and awesome beer list, and it’s almost enough to dissuade me from walking all the way to Main St. Almost. St. Augustines
Top flight beer list, but mostly ordered from a catalogue. I love the online beer menu, though. Alibi Room
I cannot count the number of one-off or unique beers that have been produced just for the Alibi. That should tell you something.
Notable Absentees (not yet reviewed, but I’ll get to them):
Parallel 49 Tasting Room
Reviewed but not approved:
The Manchester — I get the feeling that the one good beer on tap isn’t ordered very often
Cinema — Proof that the Donelly Forumla is not universally applied
Irish Heather — Just not quite good enough to make the cut
Yaletown Brewing Company — Drink Boring Beer. Sorry guys, but change it up will ya?
Granville Island Taproom — Sure, Vern’s nice one offs are featured here, but it’s also crammed pack with tourists and has a 12oz serving limit. Go to the Alibi instead.