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Archive for the ‘Breweries’ Category

Portland Tips Part 2: Eating

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Last time I gave you all sorts of tips on how to get to Portland, and get around the place once there. What next? You should eat. I’m quite fond of food, myself. I eat it most every day. You’re likely the same, and Portland has lots of food to cram in your nutrient intake orifice of choice. So gander below, at places I’ve been that apply heat to deceased flora and fauna, then put it on a dish for you.

Note: I might have missed your favourite place, but that’s just because I haven’t eaten there yet. Leave me a tip in the comments and I’ll visit said place, then pan it in a future review.

Map: If you’re getting lost, here’s a handy dandy map I put together. It’s swell.

Restaurants – Food carts – Around

Food cart pods are ubiquitous downtown and offer cheap eats in a variety of cuisines and qualities. Generally the food is pretty good, though, and definitely has a leg up vs Vancouver and our tiny-but-growing fleet of mobile carts. Check online frequently for the hot, new, shit.

Outside of downtown, the carts form mini pods on vacant lots, circled like covered wagons in the old west. Strings of fairy lights and lanterns provide illumination, bands often play, and usually one or two of the carts is selling beer and/or wine. It’s basically heaven, or a BC LCLB Inspector’s worst nightmare (amazing how those two things are usually the same). Again, these pods change and shift frequently, so keep an ear to the e-ground. Definitely take the time to track them down, though, as this is the quintessential Portland experience.

Pictured: a thing that actually happens in Portland.

Restaurants (Brunch) – Kenny and Zukes – 1038 SW Stark

Do you want pastrami? No, I mean, do you REALLY WANT pastrami? If you screamed Yes at the top of your lungs, go to Kenny and Zukes where something huge awaits you: the line to get in. At the end of that line, though, is a pastrami sandwich the size of your head. It’s pretty tasty, too, as is the kosher pickle you get with it.

Restaurants (Brunch) – Mothers – 212 SW Stark

In a season 2 episode of Portlandia, a group of locals wait in line for brunch so long that they develop their own rituals, customs and society. I would bet that the inspiration for this episode is the outside of Mother’s Bistro on Saturday morning. The food is fantastic but, is it worth the wait? You have to try it once (hint: I have not been back). They do accept reservations, but with quite a few hoops to jump through before one is granted.

Restaurants (Wings) – Fire on the Mountain – 708 E Burnside

FotM is a somewhat legendary Portland institution, and that reputation is well deserved. The secret is truly in the sauce here, as the wings themselves, while pretty good, are not best-in-class. The hot wings I had on my first visit were neither the hottest wings, nor the best wings-in-general I’ve ever had, but they definitely were the best hot wings I’ve chowed down on, specifically. Lots of heat and flavour options, coupled with a rather decent lineup of custom-brewed craft beer, makes a happy Chuck.

Restaurants (Dinner) – Pok Pok – 3226 SE Division

Okay, let’s get this out of the way: the wait times are absurd. Downright shocking. On my most recent visit I was quoted 2.5 hours, and they don’t take reservations, to boot. However, unlike the pool of suckers slowly growing outside Pok Pok’s SE Division address, I simply marched across the street to the associated Whiskey Soda Lounge and instantly scored a patio seat.

WSL will let you know when your time comes at Pok Pok and, in the meantime, you can enjoy a variety of cocktails, beers, wines and even most of the appetizer menu from Pok Pok. Do yourself a favour and start dinner early.

Is it worth the wait? Unlike Mother’s, I go back every single time I go to Portland. I was also dropped on my head a lot as a child, so it remains unclear what weight this endorsement holds.

The wings at Pok Pok/WSL. I have unnatural feelings towards this dish.

Restaurants (Dinner) – Luc Lac – 835 SW 2n

Luc Lac is NOT amazing food. It’s simply pretty decent Viet grub, even though the Pho is quite bland. What Luc Lac IS, though, is a fun twist on what you expect a restaurant to be, and one of those “so cheap you leave smiling” Portland experiences that are harder and harder to find. They keep prices down by keeping the seats full: order when you walk in, get a table given to you as your food becomes ready, and walk out the second you’re done, because you’ve already paid.

Go for Happy Hour between 4 and 7pm, and you’ll find a menu of pretty decent $2 and $3 food items. You can leave stuffed to the gills with perfectly okay Viet food for sub $10 and, remember: no tax.

Restaurants (Dinner) – Little Bird – 215 SW 6th

For something a bit higher end and definitely more French-ish, Little Bird is a must-try. Reservations fill up early, so plan your visit a few weeks out. Prices are a bit higher than perhaps we’re used to in Vancouver, with entrées generally being in the mid-to-high 20s USD (32-40ish CDN), but sometimes you just can’t wait until you’re back in Lotustown for your next fix of Foie Gras or Duck Confit.

Restaurants (Dinner) – Deschutes Brew Pub – 210 NW 11th Ave

I’ll keep the rest of the breweries, brewpubs and bars in a different post, but Deschutes goes here. Why? It’s not a bar. It’s a family friendly restaurant in a big-budget room. It is definitely not a bar (although the bar half feels bar-ish, it’s not enough to get over the vibrating reservation discs and queue of strollers out front). Couple that with overtly cheery, prompt service-with-smile and a room crammed full of over 200 patrons and I have to hate it, right? Wrong. I **want** to hate this place. I really do. It’s Disney’s version of a BrewPub. However, the food is very good, the beers are excellent, and the price is downright cheap. Oh, how easily I sell out my standards.

Look at you, you have a baby… in a bar.

Okay, that’s enough for this post. Next time: Bars and Bottle Shops. I might even do Breweries then, as well, but I think those guys might just get their own post.

Written by chuck

August 21st, 2015 at 10:54 am

Old Yale Vanishing Monk

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When you think of craft beer in Vancouver, you don’t often think of Old Yale Brewing. I mean, they’re all the way out in Mordor (the Wack), so their beer can’t possibly be any good, right? So let’s just grab another hop bomb from <insert hip hot new local brewery here> and call it a day.

Thus, when 2014’s Canadian Beer Awards rolled around, more than a few eyebrows where raised when Old Yale’s tried and true Sasquatch Stout won the coveted “Beer of the Year” award. I’ll be honest, it took me by surprise as well. 2013’s winner was Powell Street’s delicious Old Jalopy Pale Ale. I had no problem with that. Hip new breweries beat the old guard, right? Punchy Pales > Boring Old Stouts.

Or so the thinking went before everyone woke up and remembered that Sasquatch is really quite a well brewed Stout. The win looks like it might have been somewhat of a surprise for the fine folks at Old Yale themselves, as the sudden rush of sales and publicity that follows such an award seems to have jarred them into a bit of a brand modernization.

With that rebrand comes a new brew, being right now broadly distributed via the BC LDB. With broad distribution comes media samples, and for the first time ever I received some Old Yale product to open, taste, and trash/praise. So, is Vanishing Monk Belgian Wit any good?

Yup, it is. It won’t blow your mind wide open, but it is a very well brewed example of a style that’s easy to mess up. Frankly, this beer is pretty good. There’s lots of yeast complexity going on here, but not so much it becomes the focus of the beer. There’s a subtle line between a refreshing Wit and a beer that’s all gonzo “Look at me! I’m brewed with a kooky yeast! CAN’T YOU TASTE THE ESTERS?!”

Plus, at 5.59 (before taxes) at the LDB it’s not a bad option. There’s lots of great competition in the Wit Zone, but Old Yale’s is one of the better ones.

APPEARANCE Pours cloudy yellow with a thin, instantly dissipating head.
NOSE Faint lemon zest, good Belgian yeast esters (clove, black pepper).
TASTE creamy mouthfeel, good balance between sugar and yeast complexity. A nice light summer ale.
STATS 5.0% ABV / 20 IBU / Witbier
SHOULD I BUY IT? Yes, and then find a patio by a lake for full effect.
SIMILAR BEERS Driftwood White Bark, Strange Fellows Jongleur, Brassneck Staircase
CHECK IN (4/5, Excellent)


A+++++. Would receive free samples again.

Written by chuck

June 26th, 2015 at 11:43 am

Posted in Beers

Tagged with

BC Breweries by Production 2014

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Ever wonder how big the breweries in BC really are? We all like to talk a good talk about huge year over year growth, but how fast are our favourite brands getting big?

Sadly, no one really talks size or growth, as most breweries are privately owned and not required to share any of those embarrassing financial tidbits. Luckily for us, the LDB is required to post their annual finances, and since all beer in BC must first be sold to the LDB this report acts as a sort of proxy for brewery size.

Below I’ve tabulated the 2014 financials for each brewery that I can identify in the report, along with their 2013 numbers, and an approximate guess for beer production in hectolitres. Previously I’d used numbers ranging from $375 to $450 per hectolitre calculation, but this year I changed it up and went with $300. This is primarily because this year I learnt a bit more about how breweries are taxed, and that these financial statements are post-tax.

The degree to which these hectolitre calculations should be trusted is reflected by how easily I just changed them out: don’t trust them. These are very approximate numbers only, and should only be used for rough relative comparisons. A major brewery like Pacific Western will be lower, and a brewery that solely sells draught and growler products like Brassneck might be higher.

All columns are sortable. Just click.

Some tidbits:

  • For the first time, several breweries appear to be in serious trouble. Tin Whistle, Wolf, Craig Street, and R&B are all hurting big time. If this keeps up, expect some cheap equipment to go up for sale soon.
  • Mid-sizes breweries are broadly down as a trend. Russell, Big Rock, Granville Island, OK Spring, etc are all hurting.
  • HUGE years for Hoyne, Driftwood, Parallel 49 and Central City, but especially Hoyne. Great work, Sean!
  • The shift in strategy for some of the smaller breweries is evident: Longwood, Moon Under Water and Spinnakers bottling efforts are definitely paying dividends.
  • Pacific Western was doing great up until this year. They’re somewhat up market from Molson, so I figured that was due to adventurous drinkers trying something different. Their ~10% drop this year is likely due to adventurous drinks moving down the shelf a bit more to actual good beer.
  • Holy shit. Check out Brassneck’s numbers, and then realize they weren’t even open for HALF OF THE PERIOD OF THIS REPORT. Wowza.
  • I included Big Rock here, too. They’re building a brewery in Vancouver so, uh, welcome to BC guys.
  • The various Mark James properties have been broken out individually. I think this has something to do with Red Truck’s massive production capacity increase and taxes.

Disclaimers (repeated from 2013):

  • Because of the craziness of shadow brands and contract brewing, it’s hard to split out some of these numbers. OK Spring, in particular, also produces Sleeman locally, and those sales are blended in.
  • Some breweries are missing, including Coal Harbour and others. I have no idea why. They are likely running under either a numbered company or a name I don’t recognize.
  • I have excluded Labatt’s (Kokanee) simply because it would be impossible to separate out beer produced in-province from imports.
  • Likewise, I have skipped Mark Anthony Group (Turning Point/Stanley Park) because most of their money comes from wine (Mission Hill)


Click headers to sort

Brewery 2013 Income 2014 Income alias/aka 2014 Production (hl) Growth
Sleeman Breweries Ltd 100826104 97421073 Sleeman / OK Spring 324736 -3.4%
Pacific Western Brewing Company 37038122 33563099 111876 -9.4%
Granville Island Brewing Company 23597424 22831746 76105 -3.2%
Phillips Brewing Co 14527143 17209987 57366 18.5%
Northam Brewery Lp 12412210 14093947 Whistler / Bowen 46979 13.5%
Vancouver Island Brewing Company 8663020 8082863 26942 -6.7%
Driftwood Brewing 4049056 5843817 19479 44.3%
Big Rock Brewery Inc 6487218 5349530 17831 -17.5%
Fireweed Brewing Corp 5391621 5328876 Tree 17762 -1.2%
Lighthouse Brewing Company Inc 5156097 4962174 16540 -3.8%
Parallel 49 Brewing Company Ltd 1452960 4699953 15666 223.5%
Central City Brewing Co 2717936 4043560 13478 48.8%
Russell Brewing Co Limited 4162692 3917373 13057 -5.9%
Allen Brands Inc 2212115 2926208 Big Surf / Prohibition 9754 32.3%
Howe Sound Brewing 2371393 2560623 8535 8.0%
Nelson Brewing Company 2444327 2405093 8016 -1.6%
Hoyne Brewing Company Ltd 1204082 2384445 7948 98.0%
Dead Frog Brewery 1893880 2065463 6884 9.1%
Mt Begbie Brewing Company Limited 1701101 1874282 6247 10.2%
Fernie Brewing Co 1468056 1670146 5567 13.8%
Cannery Brewing Co 1391236 1338593 4461 -3.8%
R&B Brewing Inc 1218933 1047154 3490 -14.1%
Tuff City Brewing Ltd 532850 956717 Tofino 3189 79.5%
Townsite Brewing Inc. 561253 799821 2666 42.5%
Steamworks Brewing Company Ltd 788268 2627 100%
Gulf Islands Brewery Limited 494823 656752 2189 32.7%
Spinnakers Brew Pub Inc 386987 611865 2039 58.1%
Salsbury Drive Holdings Ltd 514694 Brassneck 1715 100%
Longwood Brew Pub Limited 250872 495047 1650 97.3%
Crannog Ales Limited 367742 399852 1332 8.7%
Four Winds Brewing Company Ltd 365473 1218 100%
Bridge Brewing Corp 58606 354781 1182 505.4%
33 Acres Brewing Company Inc 341586 1138 100%
Storm Brewing Limited 353287 336433 1121 -4.8%
Moon Under Water Brewery Ltd 97534 310847 1036 218.7%
Arrowhead Brewing Company 69882 301396 1004 331.3%
Old Yale Brewing Co Limited 178992 248412 828 38.8%
Persephone Brewing Company Inc 247804 826 100%
Powell Street Craft Brewery Inc 137405 458 100%
Mission Springs Developements Limited 39391 114057 380 189.6%
Tin Whistle Brewing Co 449938 100515 335 -77.7%
Wolf Brewing Company 200198 100045 333 -50.0%
Big River Brewing Company 46422 76883 256 65.6%
Bomber Brewing Corporation 69503 231 100%
Deep Cove Brewers And Distillers Inc 68699 228 100%
Green Leaf Brewing Corporation 66654 222 100%
Shuswap Lake Brewing Company 52840 62931 Barley Station Brewpub 209 19.1%
Yaletown Brewing Co 44347 147 100%
Craig Street Brewing Co Ltd 63910 43137 143 -32.5%
Patricia Hotel Vancouver 38787 40202 134 3.6%
RDO Brewing Ventures Ltd 36046 Barkerville 120 100%
Big Ridge Brewing Company 32591 31508 105 -3.3%
Three Ranges Brewing Company Ltd 28436 94 100%
Freddy’s Brew Pub 26466 88 100%
Barley Mill Brewpub 27327 0.0 0 -100.0%
Plan B Brewing Co 111483 0.0 0 -100.0%
Avalon Brewing Co 353808 0.0 Old Red Truck Location 0 -100.0%

* Arrowhead and Bridge numbers are adjusted to approximate annual production, as they were not open for the entirety of the reporting period.

Written by chuck

December 25th, 2014 at 2:49 pm

Posted in Breweries