Vancouver is a fun city, but I never thought it would be one where you start a craft beer tour and end in a tiki bar. Luckily, that non-existent myth has been laid to rest.
I had a mostly free day my last day in Vancouver, so, following what I did in London, I set out on a craft beer tour of downtown Vancouver. Like most of North America (and elsewhere) these days, Vancouver is a great place to explore craft beer. And tiki bars.
Steamworks Brewing Co
I was minding my own business in the heart of Gastown, dodging tourists and picking up little odds and ends not available on my side of the country. This whole adventure began when I meandered by Steamworks Brewing Co, and, finding it pretty close to 12:00, decided it was time for break from shopping.
Chatting with the bartender over my Empress IPA, he suggested a great itinerary of craft breweries that were in the immediate vicinity.
These suggested stops would also make great use of my Compass card, a rule established during my London DIY craft beer tour a few months earlier. Compass card and hand-written suggestions in hand, I set out on a mini craft beer tour of Main Street, downtown Vancouver…
375 Water St
Steel Toad Brewery
Okay, I may have been a little early for craft brewers at 1pm on a Tuesday. Still, lunch beckoned after my IPA on a mostly empty stomach, so I started at the first place that was open, Steel Toad Brewpub, for a bit of lunch and some fine brews. I took up a position at the bar, got chatting with the friendly bartender about my intended adventure for the days, and had some delightful pub snacks for lunch. As recommended by the barman, I enjoyed the Kemode West Coast IPA. He also recommended my other intended stops for the day, so, clearly, the barmen of Main Street area beer bars are in cahoots.
97 E 2nd Ave
Full of food, I headed up the hill to Brassneck Brewery and arrived at its small, lively tasting room at the very respectable drinking hour of 2pm. My Steel Toad barman recommended the limited-edition “Changeling” sour ale series, and the raspberry was a perfect complement to the surprisingly warm day (and walking uphill).
2148 Main St
Main Street Brewing Co
By this point in the afternoon, I was joined by my Vancouver-based friend who led the way to Main Street Brewing, conveniently located almost around the corner. Since it was the very, very respectable drinking hour of 3:30pm by this point, we ordered flights consisting of Checkpoint Charlie Berliner weisse, Old Knights pale ale, Nake Fox IPA, and the Belgian Bonzai Single Hopped IPA. The beers were tasty and refreshing, and the tasting room was hopping, for a late Tuesday afternoon.
By this point, we had many other craft beer options, but we took a hard pivot and pursued the unexpected: heading to the tiki bar.
261 E 7th Ave
Shameful Tiki Room
A ten-minute ride up Main St took us to heaven on Earth: the Shameful Tiki Room. It’s almost pitch-black inside, and it took a good 2 minutes for my eyes to adjust from the blinding afternoon sun. The Shameful Tiki Room is dark, cozy, and full of rum. Reading menus by candlelight, we ordered up drinks that were a combination of fruity, fun, and deadly, especially when my companions ordered a Mystery Bowl, which is delivered with the sound of a gong and the entire bar shouting “MYSTERY BOWL!”
I have no idea what the interior looks like, owing to the darkness, but I do know the staff are friendly, the drinks are absurdly tasty, and if you’re like me, you’ll drop $15 on a commemorative tiki-themed drink mug and grab all of the swizzle sticks they’ll give you on your way out the door.
4362 Main Street
Vancouver, you get me. We’ll meet again soon for more beer and tiki cocktails.
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