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First time visit to Vancouver- what to do, where to eat, and cask beer?

Hi Vancouver Chowhounds,

We're coming from Boston to visit your city for the first time for 3 days and are looking for recommendations on what we should do and see, places to eat and best places for craft beer and cask beers.

In doing my research I'm thinking lunch at Hawksworth, brunch at Homer Street Cafe and Bar, dinner at Farmers Apprentice and Wildebeest. We prefer places that locally source and are creative. Are these good choices so far? Any other places we should be considering?

For beer places which would you suggest: Alibi Room, St. Augustines,
Tap and Barrel, Craft Beer Market or elsewhere? We'd definitely like to find as much locally brewed beer as possible and casks, suggestions on best paces to find cask beer would be greatly appreciated.

Saw that there are a couple of night markets, is that something we should be checking out? Any other must sees or dos while in Vancouver?

Really looking forward to enjoying what your city has to offer.

Thanks!!!

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  1. An East Van brewery crawl would be perfect for you. A bit more info here: http://www.theprovince.com/news/Yeast...

    Breweries with tasting rooms: 33 Acres, Brassneck, Bomber Brewing, Parallel 49. Ones that offer tastings: Powell Street Brewing, Storm Brewing.

    When are you coming? The Vancouver Craft Beer Week is happening May 30 - June 7 (although lots of ticketed events are already sold out): http://www.vancouvercraftbeerweek.com/

    Even besides VCBW, we have cask events multiple times a week here now. Check out CAMRA Vancouver's Facebook page for lists of cask events: https://www.facebook.com/CAMRA.Vancou...

    Enjoy!

    1 Reply
    1. re: dennisthefoodie

      Thanks for the great information! We will be there during Craft Beer Week, so we'll definitely look into this!

    2. I'm aware of only two places that have cask ales available daily - Alibi (2-3, always changing), Irish Heather (R&B PA or IPA).

      However, many tap a cask on a given day each week. I follow @camra_yvr to keep up, and the #caskalert posts
      https://twitter.com/CAMRA_YVR

      There's something, somewhere every day.

      For places - Alibi has the deepest and most interesting list, I'd say St. Augustines is 2nd.
      I've been underwhelmed by Tap and Barrel and Craft.

      Our local craft beer market has really been blossoming of late. And:
      http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british...

      4 Replies
      1. re: kinnickinnik

        I totally agree about Alibi Room. I like the vibe way more at Alibi than St. Augustine's. I barely tolerate St. Augustine's weird sports bar/hoochy vibe.

        CRAFT is a disappointment and their food just doesn't measure up to how big they talk it up. Tap & Barrel has a bit better view and some of the bartenders actually know their stuff, but yeah I vastly prefer Alibi Room, St. Augustine's or Portland Craft.

        Be aware that during peak periods and on weekends that ALL of these places are slammed. So plan ahead or bring lots of patience.

        1. re: dennisthefoodie

          Agree that, of your listed options, Alibi is the best choice.

          I'd also second the idea of going to some local craft breweries with tasting rooms. Brassneck Brewery is great. Otherwise you could do a walking tour of Parallel 49 / Powell St Brewing / Bomber Brewing, and also hit Odd Society Spirits Distillery.

        2. re: kinnickinnik

          Thank you for your post! I foresee some brewery visits in our future, as well as a trip to Alibi!

        3. Good thing you weren't coming over in 2011 (Canucks vs. Bruins) ;-)

          I'll speak to the Night Market only, Worth going to. There are 2 Chinese NM's in Richmond similarly named so it can be confusing. The better, bigger and easier-to-get-to one is the Richmond Night Market (which starts tonight, in fact):

          http://www.richmondnightmarket.com/in...

          Driving to and parking there could be a real PITA so you could also take the Canada Line rapid transit there (get off at Bridgeport Station).

          http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2013/05/...

          2 Replies
            1. re: LotusRapper

              Thank you for the clarification on the two markets and information on how best to get there! We are most certainly gong to check this out!

            2. My only minor qualm with your list is Wildebeest. I was not overly impressed. If it were me I would put several places ahead of Wildebeest (L'abbatoir, Chambar to name a couple. If you don't mind heading a little ways from downtown you should check out La Quercia or even La Buca).

              I've not had a chance to try Farmer's Apprentice yet but I have heard good things. Also cannot comment on Homer Street Cafe and Bar.

              For touristy things worth doing check out Granville Island...peruse the markets and buy a few things and if it is sunny, sit outside and people watch for awhile. You must also check out Stanley Park.

              Have a great trip & enjoy Vancouver....your hometown is a great spot also!

              5 Replies
                1. re: waylman

                  Thank you for the tip on Granville Island, we are so going to the Public Market! Will look into these restaurants!

                  1. re: misspickypants

                    If you're on Granville Island and fancy some spirits, do check out Liberty Distilling - a new craft distillery by the Liberty wine store folks. I adore their vodka - very smooth, slight citrus hints (in the first batch - they make it in small batches and I'm not sure of batch to batch variation).
                    They've also produced a gin and white whiskey
                    http://thelibertydistillery.com/

                    Further down the same lane (Railspur Alley), you'll find our very own Artisan Sake maker - he's even growing rice now for his Fraser Valley Junmei
                    )http://artisansakemaker.com/

                    1. re: kinnickinnik

                      Aren't they (apparently) the only sake maker in the world who uses their own rice and that which does not originate/grown in Japan ?

                      1. re: LotusRapper

                        Dunno about worldwide, but certainly in NA.

                2. No one mentioned Biercraft, still a great institution after all these years.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: LotusRapper

                    As long as you stick to the beer. Had a positively awful meal there a couple of months ago.

                  2. I forgot to mention Darby's earlier. If you find yourself in Kitsliano, this is your best bet for a fine pint and decent (if a little overpriced for what it is) burger. They're adding more taps all the time. Their cask night is Tuesdays.

                    Current tap list here:
                    http://us2.campaign-archive1.com/?u=9...

                    If the weather's good, they have a decent patio (with pretty full sun on it much of the day)

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: kinnickinnik

                      Thanks for letting us know about Darby's too!

                    2. The Brassneck Brewery on Main/6th. Been there once, the sampler pack was good:

                      http://dennisthefoodie.com/2013/10/03...

                      1. YBC (Yaletown Brewing Co) is still alive and well, has been there for like what, 20 years now ?

                        http://www.mjg.ca/yaletown/

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: LotusRapper

                          Yes, YBC gets forgotten sometimes...but if they only have 3 days here, I'd push YBC towards the bottom of the list, if you know what I mean ;) Iain Hill does some great casks and seasonal beers (like Oud Bruin) but the standard taps at YBC are just ok.

                          1. re: dennisthefoodie

                            Good point, thx. Yes, 3 days is not a long time.

                        2. For a twist on the beer crawl, here are two local ice cream makers that often (but not always) include beery ice creams.

                          Earnest Ice cream at Fraser near King Edward
                          http://earnesticecream.com/wp/

                          The had a '33 acres of malt flavour yesterday

                          Rain or Shine on W 4th
                          http://rainorshineicecream.com/menu

                          Texture-wise Earnest rules, but a scoop Rain or Shine's Brassneck Porter on my friend's homemade brownies was a real treat.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: kinnickinnik

                            Speaking of ice cream, we went to La Casa last night around 9:30. Place was JAMMED to the rafters, I could barely move around in there let alone getting right up to the cases to see the flavors. We were worried our son and his friend would disappear in the crowd, hehe. Anyway, I had a single scoop cone of Jack Daniels Chocolate ..... whoa if there was a flavor that was a money-losing proposition for La Casa, that might have been it. Knowing me, with a 2nd scoop I might have had to be carried home ......... ;-)

                            1. re: LotusRapper

                              Oh and get this, they had a peanut butter and bacon that was heavenly. There were real pieces of bacon meat in there, even in the measly sampler scoop I got. Need to go back for a double-scoop of that.

                            1. re: dennisthefoodie

                              Another really clear and concise list of beer-centric places to check out in Vancouver!

                              http://vancouver.eater.com/archives/2...

                              1. re: dennisthefoodie

                                No love for Bitter Tasting Room (Gastown, on Hastings)? Not much food, but a very well curated beer list (mostly bottles, though)

                                Agree w/above on the food at Craft, but their beer list is epic and they have things you won't see elsewhere in Vancouver, between it and Tap and Barrel (100m away) there might be a couple hundred things on tap.

                                One final note: rumor has it the Main Street Brewery behind Brassneck is now open, but I haven't been yet.

                                  1. re: pusherman

                                    IMHO drinking bottles in a bar/pub/restaurant in Vancouver is just a plain ripoff. I like the scotch eggs at Bitter but if you want something other than what's on tap, it can get expensive fast.