You didn’t think Part 2 was coming, did you? You probably thought I’d abandoned ship on my backbreaking task to edumacate myself on all things beer, where I vowed to learn about its intricacies and complexities and frothy, hoppy goodness, only having instead fallen down a wine rabbit hole, never to resurface to pay my bar tab again….
As my dear old Dad says when questioned about his smoking habit: nobody likes a quitter.
I do have an actual day job, though, that requires me to stay slim (insert eye roll) and fresh-faced and camera-ready, which means I can’t drink all the livelong day just to please you fine people, as much as I would like to. But I have found some time in there to explore the world of beer as I said I would, and I do have some further, rather asinine musings to share with you on the subject.
For those that missed Part 1 of this arduous journey (which means you’re not a regular subscriber to this blog, thank you very little), I began this quest to shed a new light on the subject of beer for all of us wine-worshipping purple-teethed fools out there who can’t seem to put down our glass of pinot long enough to try something new. I’ve always been a little intimidated to order a beer in a bar, mostly because I have no idea what in hell I actually like and don’t like, and let’s face it: not every bar you go to is going to have a wine selection that goes beyond cheap-ass “white” or slighty-less-cheap-ass “red”. So I decided to embark on a new learning curve to figure out the world of beer.
Having flown to my hometown of Vancouver, B.C. to shoot a TV show (“Supernatural”, in case you were wondering. And yeah, they’re as hot in person as they are on TV, blah blah blah), I decided the present was as good a time as any to visit a real live brewery. Vancouver has no shortage of popular microbreweries in town, so I figured if I was going to find a type of beer that I loved, I may have some modest success here.
After recruiting yet another beer-fearing besty of mine– Becky, whom you met here and who is the kind of best friend who will do anything for me, the list of which includes letting me talk smack about her driving, flying thousands of miles to visit me when I’m homesick, and holding my hair while I puke– we headed to Vancouver’s original brew pub to sample some beer. The Yaletown Brew Pub is a popular hangout for the uber-trendy crowd looking to “slum it” with some thin crust pizzas while watching the game, a bar many a Vancouverite has frequented at least once in their priviledged lives. It’s all brick walled and brass, friendly and comfortable enough not to make you feel like a jackass when ordering a beer you know nothing about. Becky gave me free reign to do the ordering (actually, I think her exact words were, “Let’s get this shit over with so I can drink a Chardonnay.”), so I went with the Mainland Lager, which sounded rather safe, and the Downtown Brown, because I liked the name. I’ve also noticed a pleasant little pattern with all things labeled Brown in the beer world, liking their slightly sweet and nutty flavours more than the hoppy stuff found in IPAs. The Mainland Lager was pretty mild and nondescript, but both of us found it a bit too hoppy, preferring the Downtown Brown by a hair, which was still a little too heavy for either one of us to imagine ordering more than one of. We finished what we could and skipped off to find a glass of champagne, announcing our Beer Work done for the day. (What a couple of chicks.)
On our second outing, we decided to see what all the fuss was about over at Granville Island Brewing, a very well-known and well-loved microbrewery on Vancouver’s tourist-heavy Granville Island. Their Taproom (which is a beer term for tasting room– look at me learning!) is really fun, a large and roomy space with communal tables and a bar, and a glass wall showcasing their brewery in all its cute little glory. We decided to taste them all, which they make super easy with their nifty little Taproom Taster, a selection of three beers of your choosing currently on tap. I chose the Island Lager, the Cypress Honey Lager, and the Robson Street Hefeweizen, while Beck went with the Brockton IPA, the English Bay Pale Ale, and the False Creek Rasberry Ale.
As suggested by our fabulous server (fabulous meaning she loved Firefly), we started off with the Brockton IPA. This wasn’t my bag, way too bitter for my tastes and just not enjoyable. The only thing I really liked about it was watching Becky make an ass of herself by calling it an “ippa”. And come to think of it, every IPA I’ve tried I haven’t enjoyed, so it might be safe to say that IPAs in the beer world are my sauvignon blancs in the wine world: ain’t ever gonna like it so I might as well quit trying. The second one up was the English Bay Pale Ale, which was decidedly less bitter and more malty, kind of like a smooth burnt toffee. Becky deemed it undrinkable, but I didn’t mind it, especially after the skunk-just-sprayed-in-my-mouth IPA. We sampled the Island Lager next, which seemed light and refreshing, but after a few sips of that I was over it. Becky pronounced it just okay, but “wouldn’t kick it out of the cooler” if it was the last thing available at the beach party.
Next we tried the Cypress Honey Lager, which was quite tasty to both of us, bright and smooth and just tart enough, like sipping a French rose on a hot summer day. This was also the first beer I could see maybe perhaps almost going with some sort of a cheese plate, a nice little companion to an applewood smoked cheddar or a smoked mozzarella. I was also getting hungry. Becky was getting indigestion, by the sounds of it, whispering, “I’ve burped, like, a hundred times since we sat down”, while simultaneously burping in my ear.
We moved on to the Robson Street Hefeweizen. This was a bit strange, sort of sweet and tangy, and not at all like the other beer we’d had previous. I’d always been told that a Hefeweizen may be the beer to win me over, but this one in particular just wasn’t doing it. We couldn’t place the aftertaste, which was fruity and burnt at the same time. The closest we got was Becky holding up a stop-the-presses hand and announcing a Eureka-like, “BANANA MARSHMELLOWS!” at the top of her lungs, which made me realize she was a 6 outta 1o on the drunk scale already.
Our last sampling was the False Creek Rasberry Ale, which was by far the favourite of the day. A little sweet, zesty, fruity, smooth and just gorgeous, kinda like my hairdresser. It was the first beer taster we fought over, and the only one I could see downing a whole pint of. I was initially a little disappointed that our favourite happened to be the girliest beer of them all in my eyes, until I noticed several burly-looking dock-working gentleman ordering that very beer. Furthermore, it turned out that coincidentally right across town my husband was sharing a pitcher of Rasberry Ale with his buddies, gulping it back with a vengeance in all its girly brilliance. Finally, we had found a beer that we could appreciate and marvel over, and even purchase a six-pack of to enjoy on a sunny afternoon (Becky: “STRAWBERRIES ON A FRIGGIN’ BOAT!”).
To summarize? Things were looking’ up. And that beer was start to go down mighty fine. But unfortunately for me, Granville Island Brewing’s Rasberry Ale isn’t as common place as it should be, and one can’t be proclaimed a beer-lover with only one bleedin’ beer on their favourites list.
So I’m going to keep on trucking. I’m headed to Toronto for the next few months for yet another show (where I <gasp> do not ride in and/or fix a spaceship whatsoever), so if you have brewery/microbrew/great pub suggestions for me in the old T-Dot, I’d love to hear them. Until then, I’m just gonna drink this glass of pinot here, because it looks lonely.