Barley Mowat 

Archive for the ‘Beer and You’ Category

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

What Could Be

with one comment

I posted recently about a chance in the laws south of the border to allow non-liquor specific retailers to start stocking booze. A proposal like this has both its pros and its cons. One of the key questions is whether or not the newly booze-friendly retailers would actually care about stocking a decent product, or simply go for the quick cash model by stocking only the most popular items (“The Coors aisle is over there, sir, by the Molson section”).

There would likely be a bit of both, but a great example to highlight is what Whole Foods has done with their beer section in states where liquor retail in grocers is allowed. I’ve talked about their Portland store before, but very recently my friend Bonnie was down at their flagship store in Austin, and brought me back some pictures (although sadly no beer).


Yes, there is Bud Light.
There is also virtually every craft beer brewed in the US.

Sure, sure, though, I’ve posted pictures of a nice-looking row of beer in a Whole Foods before. What makes this one so special? Well, that was only one of several rows. Plus a giant cold room. Again, this is anything but special for those of us who’ve been to Firefly. What makes this store different, Chuck?


This. This makes it different.

Nope, I’m not messing with you. That is quite literally a bar in a grocery store. Yes, that is a bar where Whole Foods highlights a rotating set of local Texas beers, for cheap. And yes, those things behind the counter are growlers, so you can take your favourite with you and pay at the till with your frozen peas. Look at the beer styles on display: ESB, Oatmeal Pale Ale, Russian Imperial Stout. These are not the Molsons of the world.

So, while I don’t doubt opening up liquor retail to grocers will result in Safeway stocking lots of shit, we can at least cite one example where the retailer has taken the idea and run with it.

Damn, I want to go grocery shopping in Austin now. Anyone need groceries?

Written by chuck

December 7th, 2011 at 10:38 am

Posted in Beer and You