Flights of Fancy (Beer) at the Alibi Room (Vancouver) - a Chowdown...er Beerdown Report
Last night, the seventeen (or more?) Chowhounds from Vancouver and Calgary met at the Alibi Room, the unofficial headquarters of craft beer in Vancouver. This was a great event with lots of convivial banter about food, eating, and beer....these Chowdowns just keep getting better and better. The event was also quite educational as a prominent expert in craft beer was in attendance to field questions and add great commentary on the scene here in town.
The Alibi Room is equipped with the largest number of taps in town and all of them are dedicated to craft beer. Nigel - originally hailing from Yorkshire - is the owner and passionate craft beer fanatic behind this operation. He told us that more taps will be installed soon for an even larger selection. All night long, flights of craft beer were...um...flying in to our table from the bar behind us. Looking down our long table, I could see that all of us were enjoying our beer in flights.
I asked Nigel to provide me with some of his favourites to start - sort of like asking "omakase" at a sushi bar. He provided me a flight "bat" (what the heck are these things called anyway?) of a selection of four beers from light to dark. The focus here is on local craft beers, but we had beers from outside BC and down into the States as well.
The flights are a great way to sample many different beers (without getting too drunk!) It was really interesting to savour the pairings - take a bite of your food, sip one beer....another bite, the sip the next beer on that "bat"...and so on.
I had ordered the bison sandwich au jus which Nigel paired that with a flight of darker beers. I had a molten chocolate cake for dessert which he paired with a dark Old Rasputin stout. I did not make the effort to try to remember all the beer I had sampled - but they were all delicious and very different from each other.
I highly recommend the Alibi - especially if you are in the beer doldrums. Your tastebuds will not get bored here.
The others who attended should come along shortly to provide their own experiences with their selections. We all had a lot of fun and some of us made a full evening of it and headed down to The Diamond for a couple of cocktails. (I was actually at the Diamond as a prelude to this Beerdown...The Diamond will be subject of another post.)
157 Alexander St, Vancouver, BC V6A1B8, CA
We managed to wangle three "frat bats" between us. My two new favourites were from Swan's -- the witbier that nic liked was my top choice and I liked their pilsner also. Of course I was loving the GIsle raspberry but the Saison (sorry, missed the brewer) left me cold. SO had the witbier, the pilsner, "Hef" and the Saison and liked them in that order. I also tried a sip of a barley wine (yum -- thanks foodfirst) and tastes of the four darkest beers on the menu that the SO ordered second: schwartzbier, Crannog's Back Hand of God, Lighthouse's Keeper's Stout, and the chocolate porter (again, didn't get all the deets).
We shared a beet salad and the bison dip that fmed had (not the same one, just the same dish!). The salad, which I had had earlier this summer and enjoyed, disappointed with over-large chunks of too-sweet beet and a cumin-heavy vinaigrette that was short on much-needed acid -- we did not finish it. The bison dip was nicely rare (last time it was a bit dry) with tasty fries and a better side salad. From two visits (foodwise) I'd love to see the kitchen take that little extra step because it is so close to being very good. I know the focus is on the bevvies but I hate to see snacking opportunities unmaximized :-).
Total tab for 3 bats, salad and dip: just over $50 before tip. Service was great with Nigel giving us super combos and of course it was wonderful to pick his brains and those of the other attendees who all know far more about beer than I do -- but I'm learning.
Special thanks to fmed for organizing and taking such great pix.
Because of the Caskival event mentioned above, they only had one cask with an IPA but that is unusual. Here's an example of what they might be pouring (this list is from July -- time to update their website!):
• Cannery Brewing - Naramata Nut Brown
• Lost Coast Brewing - Indica i.p.a.****
• Howe Sound Brewing - Garibaldi Pale ale
• Swans Buckerfields - 008 Barley Wine
• Crannog brewing - Back Hand of God Organic stout
• Spinnakers Ale House - 25th Anniversary Pale
• Phillip's Brewing - Chocolate Porter
• Conrad (of Steamwork's) - Witbier
• G.Island Tap Room - Raspberry Wheat Limited Release
• Longwood Brew Pub - Harley's Red Ale
• Surgenor Brewing - Red House Ale*
• Tree Brewing - Heffeweizen Limited Release
• Barley Station - Organic Pilsner
• Red Racer Brewing - Empire i.p.a.****
• Craig Street Brew Pub - Shawnigan Irish Red
• Lighthouse brewing - Keepers Stout
• Spinnaker's Ale House - Mount. Tolmie Dark
• Red Racer Brewing - Extra Special Bitter****
• Tin Whistle Brewing - Peach Cream ale
CASK! - Driftwood - Altbier
CASK! - Dave Varga's - 2 lions Pale ale
CASK! - RnB Hoppelganger i.p.a.***
"Frat Bat" sample - Any 4 above
* denotes hop-e-ness
Alibi's draught list changes weekly, if not daily! I brought a website printout on a few occasions, only to be (briefly) disappointed. I have a really low tolerance to alcohol, so I have to plan my drinks carefully! ;) Definitely quality over quantity for me.
Attached are pics of my visit to Alibi a while ago. The bat, cheese platter and their delicious fried wings. I quite liked the Driftwood saison, and the "Seth Rogenweizen" (HA!) was creamy and flavourful -- probably my favourite that day.
As board regulars may know, I'm a huge fan of Alibi. The beers that night were great. I had a Driftwood Farmhand Saison to start, followed by one of my favorite beers, Central City's Red Racer Extra Special Bitter and a final glass of Old Rasputin Imperial Stout. All were quite good.
Good company too!