I have had a love affair with good beer since my first trip to Belgium in 1989. After that trip my passion grew even more, soon I was seeking out “Beer Bars” in NYC and every town I would visit. The US went from being a beer wasteland to a country brewing arguably the best beers in the world in a matter of a decade and I was strapped in for the ride. My palate would mature with my growing baldness and darkness. Beer as I advocated to my friends who would soon jump on the ride as well was more complex than wine and also more down to earth. At beer festivals people do not spit, why waste a good beer, and at beer festivals you do not see people attempting to rise or live like Upper East Side snobs. They were salt of the earth and fun people.
Only a few years ago a good “Beer Bar” was small, frequented by beer geeks and run by people who could best be described at fanatical obsessive judgemental dicks, not unlike independent book and record store proprietors. How far we have come, with the opening of “Craft Beer Market” in Vancouver, beer bars are no longer a scary, small place filled with judgemental beer snob assholes, who will size you up by what you are putting down. This is both a good thing and maybe not such a good thing.
HOLY CRAP THIS PLACE IS HUGE!
Craft Beer Market is located in the historic “Salt Building” in the financial black hole that is the Olympic Village at South False Creek. The building was once a salt refinery built in 1932 and one of the few remaining old industrial structures left in false creek where glass condos run amok. Craft Beer did an amazing job restoring and building out what has to be one of the warmest and most beautiful restos/bars in Vancouver. huge oval bar dominate the center with over a 100 beer taps whose lines rise up in stainless steel to the proudly exposed tap room. For comparison Craft Beer seats only 1 seat less than the cold modern Cactus Club at Coal Harbour, which is the largest resto in Canada. But because it is a old timber barn for the most part it does not feel cold or that large. It feels warm, safe, social and inviting. It feels like Beer belongs there.
That said it also signals an end to the small intimate bar bars I loved where you knew the person sitting next to you was also passionate about beer. A place this size just takes a little away from that comfortble old shirt type of bar. For those of you in Vancouver that comfy old shirt is the amazing Alibi Room. Which is to me the perfect beer forward establishment.
That Is A Lot of Mother F*&cking Beer
Craft Beer has a huge beer menu to match it’s size, well over a hundred. They have curated a pretty damn great selection as well and seem to be focused on British Columbia beers, which is good and smart to think and support local brewers. Prices start at $6.50ish and go up from there, for me some beers on the menu are not worth that price when there are plenty of places you can get a Granville Island (Not really a craft beer anymore) for far, far less. But that is tax you must pay for the large varied selection which I am sure a lot of will never see an empty keg. So you are paying for their spoilage when you drink a overpriced larger budget local. Most Vancouverites are not adventurous enough to try some of the odder brews.
With the size and trendiness of Craft Beer it will no doubt attract a “Specific Crowd”, yes there will be a bit of a douche level on some nights I suspect but the beer crowd can take care of that. Another thing that gets to me is Why…Why…Must all new “Beer Bars” dress their bartenders in vintage looking Gas Station shirts with oval patches? This is such a trope it is almost comical.
I am so exciting to spend time in Craft Beer as they mature and find their local voice for beer, it is a refreshing place to bend your elbow and test your beer waters. Just different enough from the rest of the Vancouver Resto Boozey scene to quickly become a malt and hop oasis in a sea of douchey lounges and DJ infested hell holes. Craft Beer…Welcome to Vancouver.