I love beer almost as much as I love wine and spirits. So the fact that a bunch of breweries have popped up in my Vancouver, BC neighbourhood of Mount Pleasant, is wildly exciting to me. It’s like an embarrassment of yeast!
With all these new breweries, my ‘hood has been dubbed Brewery Creek.
I have three nano breweries nearby that are so small they have a maximum tasting room capacity of 50 or 60. City rules require each patron to have a seat, so at some times of the day you might have to wait in line to get in the door.
Some of these three are bottling their beer and all of them will happily refill your growler. They use these long stemmed nozzles that reach deep into your bottle and fill from the bottom, which eliminates foam. Filling from the top with regular spigots would kill the whole growler thing because so much beer would be lost to foam.
These three nano breweries are so conveniently located, I can stop to fill my growler on the way home from my gym at Main and 7th, on the edge of Brewery Creek. That is what I do to have more fresh beer in my life.
33 Acres Brewing
33 Acres Brewing Company was the first brewery to open, sometime last summer. Its next to the Anza Club at the corner of 7th Ave and Ontario, in central Brewery Creek. I stumbled by it one day last year on my regular walking circuit.
Curious, I was allowed entry to the brewery in back where I was amazed at the space. I had never seen such a clean, bright brewery in my life. It appeared one could eat off of the floor, it was that pristine.
The tasting room is similarly clean, white and spartan, furnished with big tables and simple chairs. There is a merchandise nook near the door where mariachi bands often play.
Since the bar is the tasting room, filling your growler can be problematic when the place is full. The door person is strict ,so it’s pretty annoying to have to wait for someone to leave to just get in for a fill up.
Every day there is a different food truck outside, even though sweet and savoury baked goods and snacks are offered at the bar.
The beers are named in a very Lotusland fashion and each comes with a little story.
Life is their Amber ale 4.8% ABV, using Mount Hood hops.
“Rooted in West Coast convictions of resourcefulness and persistence, the California Common was born out of the Gold Rush of 1848….this beer came to be apart of the cultural identity among the working class in the late 19th century.
Ocean is their Light Amber 5.3% ABV using Cascade and Calypso Hops
“This is a full flavoured beer integrated with a distinct floral hop which gives it a quality unique to our Pacific Northwest surroundings”
Darkness is a seasonal Schwarzbier 5% ABV
“Inspired by the beer drinking pleasures of Japan this de’light’ful lesson in a bottle (or glass) is our first flagship seasonal and will be available in our tasting room and select stockists between the months of October – March.”
Sunshine is a hazy Blonde al 5% ABV and is subspiced with orange peel, coriander and anise seed.
Born of the sun this unfiltered white ale has long been praised by the Belgians and revered by the French.
My favourite is the Ocean.
Opened in October of 2013, Brassneck is even closer to my gym, on Main St. at 5th Ave, which makes it more tempting to veer towards the beer.
The tasting room and growler bar are distinctly separate with separate line ups. The decor is rough hewn woodsy and natural concrete with high top tables and bar chairs. Very warm. The tasting room is long and spacious, but behind the far wall – the one covered with monotone drawings – is a single-table “cozy,” where you can gather with friends away from the crowd.
Sausages are available at the bar, but Brassneck also schedules food trucks, something different every day.
They seem to have a lot of regular brew on offer, but if you read the archive page on their web site, you get an idea of what they’ve experimented with.
Lots of Belgians, saisons, and stouts, as well as many IPAs. Plus more, all with funny names.
My favourite is the Passive Aggressive, a Dry Hopped Pale Ale weighing in at a whopping 7% ABV. According to the web page, it was “the first beer Conrad test brewed in his shed,” and the first beer brewed at Brassneck. Massively hoppy, yet fresh and citrusy, Passive Aggressive and the Brassneck Ale are the two beers they almost always have available.
Not the other night, though. I saw no favourites available after my workout, which drove me to fill my growler at the third nano breweries in my neighbourhood.
Main Street Brewing
Opened in June of this year, Main Street Brewing has the coolest location around the corner from my gym.
It’s housed in an antique garage that’s been lovingly restored. The ceilings are super high, accented by rough hewn beams, and the window light is magical. A somewhat open floor plan allows drinkers to watch beer being made, and the Retail Store is entirely separate from the Tasting Lounge, so growler fill ups are quick and easy.
I was told opening was delayed when the floor layout was changed in the Spring after the city amended its ordinances regarding food service. Now, Main Street offers sandwiches and bar snacks from its small kitchen.
The beer lineup is more limited than at the others, but has something for everybody.
Pilsner at 5% ABV
Brown Ale at 6% ABV with a nice, hoppy character.
Southern Hop at 6.5% ABV and a whopping 70 IBU’s (international buttering units)
Sessional IPA dry-hopped at 4.8% and 55 IBUs, this one is my fave.
More at the door
Steel Toad Brewpub is brand new microbrewery opening next month on 2nd Avenue between Ontario and Quebec. And not only a brewery, a pub!
I’ve been watching for months as the Opsal Steel Building, circa 1918, was beautifully restored, which included disassembling the building and restoring it off site.
Walking by last week, I happened to catch Head Brewer Chris Charron working on the building. He told me Steel Toad would open in 3 weeks with around 250 seats inside, plus 40 on the patio.
His debut beers will include a Pale Ale, IPA, English Stout, English Bitter, Belgian Saison, and a Blonde or Golden ale.
“Those six are things you gotta have these days.,” he said. He also plans to experiment with brettanomyces-infused styles. “I think that’s going to be the next trend. That’s what I look for when I go out. You can’t just have IPA’s anymore.”
However, no beer will be leaving the premises, he says. No kegs and no growler fills.
“We have so many seats in here we’ll need all the beer we can make.” And if he made nothing but blonde ale, he estimates doing 3000 hectoliters a year.
Not only that, there will be music nightly! Not even nearby Craft Beer Market is licensed for that. And I’m sure the acoustics will be amazing.
That’s not all!
Coming soonish is Big Rock Urban Brewery at the corner of Fourth Avenue and Alberta. It’s owned by Big Rock Brewing of Alberta.
Don’t know if they planned it that way.
The web site touts the Big Rock Urban Eatery this way: “To think of it as just a restaurant is like thinking of the Taj Mahal as just a house.”
Okay-ey. Big Rock has a huge building, but it’s far from finished. No opening date is set online, but from the looks of the fenced-off, boarded up factory, I would say at least spring of 2015 if they work fast.
All this fresh beer within a 10 block area is almost too good to be true. If you want to do a beer crawl, Mount Pleasant is the place to come.