Vancouver is a city blessed with a number of key elements that make up its identity – it’s a city small enough to celebrate local artists yet big enough to attract international acts, enjoys four seasons of weather, boasts an international mix of cultures leading to great food and progressive ideals, has a working public transport system, major sporting teams, is coastal, promotes a mix of urban and outdoor lifestyles and, houses some truly great beer.
Despite being an Aussie who grew up in regional North Queensland where ‘bitter lagers’ and ‘Bundy Rum’ were my drinks of choice, I am also fortunate enough to have travelled and learnt about new beers, styles, flavours, hops, malts, ABV’s, IBU’s, local water vs Burtonisation and everything else that comes with seeking out alternative beers, drinking with brew masters and brewery tours.
Something that excites me is watching the Pacific North West’s (PNW) beer scene continually grow and change, modernising the face of cities like Vancouver with its pubs and bars to taphouses and mirco-craft breweries where you can drink at the source.
Don’t get me wrong, I love nothing more than a good old fashioned pub where you know the publican on a first name basis, but sometimes, you need more.
Which is what got me thinking about my favourite breweries, pubs and taphouses across this beautiful city. So, in this article, I’ve put together Beer Vancouver – my Top Five Taphouses for beer menus (in no particular order) with kitchens that compliment.
My Top Five Taphouses in Vancouver:
Pacific North West represent!
This 60+ live beer menu taphouse with a food menu that is yet to disappoint is made up of predominately PNW beers that you can watch slowly disappear on big screens and online – you always know just how much of your favourite beer is left (or how many you have to go to finish the keg).
The beer buyers are doing something right here and the staff and kitchen are rightly proud of their food, offering an enticing menu featuring quality pizzas and weekend brunches with deep fried Mac ’n’ Cheese – there’s a good reason I don’t live within walking distance of St Augustine’s – I’d never leave.
Housed in the old Salt Factory in False Creek amongst the newly built Olympic Village, Craft (or Craft Beer Market) has 100 predominately North American beers on tap casually interspersed with international options.
Then add a dozen small batch rotating taps and you may be overwhelmed at first, but for the most part, they have their beer menu laid out into the different beer styles, and staff are well educated and excited to help you find ‘your’ beer.
This huge historic factory building is also impressive in itself. From the red painted exterior and large wooden beam high ceilings to the downstairs bathrooms (with wheelchair access) giving you a view of the buildings nether regions (generally filled with dead or untapped kegs), it also makes you think of how the building used to function.
Staff are generally attentive and seating is comfortable and plentiful. The food menu is also something that has been well thought-out. Standard Vancouver prices but full of flavour, the menu includes everything from Beer-Can Chicken to wings, ribs and burgers, salads to seafood and exciting variations (think Cheese Burger Sushi or waffles with fried chicken) – a compliment to both the beer menu and the chefs at Craft.
Excitingly different beer, awesome food, small funky space and great staff; this midweek evening and weekend taphouse on the edge-of-Gastown in a two storey heritage building is a surprise package that when you get to, you love and are no longer surprised.
Sitting somewhat hidden about five minutes-walk east of Gassy Jack, the Alibi Room tavern has an impressive two page beer menu (about 50 beers) with its custom stamped hop levels and boasts an even better locally sourced food menu you want to eat again and again.
Our most recent favourites includes their weekend brunch Tomato & Brie with pesto eggs benny and their Huevos Ranchero… with one (or two) of their hand-selected ‘I-haven’t-really-seen-much-of’ craft beers.
The Alibi Room is the perfect option for lovers of food and beer.
This new to Yaletown, 40 British Columbia only beer taphouse run by the Surrey based Central City brewery, is awesome.
A large, fun and purposely styled slightly country space with attentive and informed staff, better food and a BC only beer menu makes this place a must.
The idea behind this ‘brewpub’ taphouse is a great concept. They don’t appear to brew onsite, which is why it’s included on my list – rather they offer nine of their Surrey brewed beers and a cider, in addition to the owners asking 30 BC Brewery’s to supply one keg of their choice, making up 40 taps of whatever they send, you get.
When it runs out you get something different, making this craft brewpub/taphouse both consistent (with Red Racer beers) and seasonal, further giving you greater access to tasting BC’s booming craft beer scene.
As for their food? The chef is challenging you and your jawline. The burgers are full of flavour, too big to bite, and awesome. My personal favourite – the cheeseburger wrap – not a waist-line stretcher – but so very good.
Centrally located on the edge of Downtown in funky Yaletown, this Central City taphouse is an easy recommendation for a quality food and beer outing.
Possibly a surprise to see on this list, unless you’ve already eaten there, Malone’s taphouse boasts around 40 craft taps and 20 something bottled beers on the corner of Seymour and West Pender streets in Downtown Vancouver.
While the food keeps bringing us back, the recently updated beer menu giving way to more seasonal and alternative beer options, has only helped.
From unbelievably good salads to your favourite burgers, sandwiches and a chicken parmesan with two sides that I challenge you to finish by yourself, you honestly can’t go wrong for beer or food at this awesome centrally located sports bar/pub style taphouse.
What’s your favourite taphouse in Vancouver? We’d love to hear your recommendations below…