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Vancouver, BC – 2010 Winter Olympics Edition

February 19, 2010

Seven months ago I randomly checked to see if we could get Winter Olympic Tickets.  To my excitement and surprise there were still tickets available!  I perused our options and narrowed in on a Women’s Hockey game, Canada vs. Slovakia.  I dialed up our friends and neighbors, the Damn Dane and WineyS, to see if they were interested.  They were, so I purchased four tickets, figuring we’d work out the logistics at a later time.  The next day I found out that my Canadian friend Bob was bummed that he was unable to get tickets for the Olympics in his home town, so I went online and  purchased tickets for him and his wife Shirley.

Olympics Bound. Lush C, WineyS, Damn Dane, and DraughtE (left to right) - Feb. 2010

Fast forward to last weekend.  Unable to find a reasonable place to stay for the one night, Bob and Shirley graciously opened their home to us, even though I’m the only one that Bob knew, and Shirley had never met any of us. Wow, they are awesome!  Staying the night allowed us to take Amtrak up to Vancouver (from Seattle).  The train has to be the best way to get between these two great cities.  It may take a little longer than driving (depending on the border wait), but there is no stress, you can drink, and you get to see some of the best scenery in Washington.  The highlight is the section between Mt Vernon and Bellingham where the tracks  meander below Chuckanut drive along the shores of the Puget Sound. You are given a wonderful  water and island view that is only only seen via the train or by boat.  There is also the chance to see all the great wildlife of the Northwest.  On this trip we saw Eagles soar (was that Steven Colbert Jr?) and a were greeted in Canada by a golfer giving us a ¾ moon.

Once on board (at 7:45 AM), the Damn Dane (DD),WineyS, Lush C and I celebrated our weekend of fun with Bloody Mary’s.  What a great way to start the Olympic (Good Beer) Trip!  We had a riveting discussion on what to name DD and WineyS’s new boat, and what the DD’s nickname should be on Good Beer Trips.  Obviously the Damn Dane was the final decision on the latter. For the boat name the leader is “Red Snapper” followed by the “Red Menace” and “Ruby Slipper”.  After finishing our cocktails we returned to our seats to enjoy the showing of  Cool Running , which I successfully guessed would be the movie. (they played it again on the return trip).  After the movie ended, we returned to the dining car, and toasted our entry into Canada with our first beer of the trip.  Lush C went with the classic Black Butte Porter, WineyS went with white wine, and DD and I both enjoyed a Molson Amber, which wasn’t too bad for a macro brew.

We arrived in Vancouver and by the time we all made it through customs it was noon. We had three hours before we needed to meet up with Bob and Shirley for the game.  With me in charge of the map, we set out on our way to Yaletown Brewery for lunch.  Although the weather wasn’t great, there was definitely excitement in the air.  People were everywhere.  Hometown pride was huge with Canada gear all around.  It was a pleasant mile and a half walk along False Creek past Science World (and the Sochi 2014 Russia House), Canadian Pavilions, and BC Place towards the Yaletown district.  Across the way you could see the Olympic village with the various countries flags hanging from the balconies.  I got to admit, it was pretty darn cool.

WineyS esctied to be in Vancouver. By Lush C, Feb. 2010

Olympic Flags - by Lush C , Feb. 2010

Yaletown , feb 2010

I really wasn’t too hopeful about getting into Yaletown Brewery, however the beer gods were with us, and a table for four opened up with in minutes of our arrival.  We were seated in the big and open restaurant with it’s exposed brick, wood beams, and large windows.  A very happening place in the revitalized Yaletown district.  There is also a bar area, that is more reminiscent of a British pub with low lights, couches, and dart boards.  Lush C and I have been there a few times before, and we have always enjoyed it.  The menu is upscale pub food with an Asian and Italian flare, consisting of Pizza’s, Salads, Bowls (rice dishes), Plates, and Buns (Burgers and sandwiches).   I can’t speak for the others but I sure did enjoy my roasted and sliced (skin-on) chicken burger, with a  Shitaki Mushroom relish and a side of sweet potato fries, scrumptious!

Yaletown, Feb. 2010

To drink, WineyS opted for a Margarita.  It was very sweet and syrupy, definitely not their strong point.  Perhaps we we were too far from Mexico.  DD went with a Nagila Pale Ale.  Per DD it was “very beery and good”. It was golden in color, well carbonated with not much of a head. He allowed me to take a taste and  I found the aroma sweet and malty.  It was medium bodied and well balanced with a malty flavor and a slightly bitter hop finish.  A nice session beer.  To start, Lush C chose the Downtown Brown.  Served on nitro it was dark amber in color with a thick white head. and boasted a nice dark roasted malt and nutty aroma. The flavor was sweet, dark malty, and nutty, with a grainy finish.  Not much hop character in this beer.  I enjoyed the taste I had, but Lush C thought it was a little thin.  I went with the Brick and Beam IPA.  A golden orange beer with a citrus hop aroma. A full bodied beer, with a malty flavor and a pine and citrus hop finish.  Much hoppier than I remember the Canadian beers being.  For dessert, Lush C and I both went with the Warehouse Stout. We were mesmerized by it’s beauty when it arrived. Lush C stated, “it has a nice pillowy head”, and our wonderful waitress Katherine said, “it looks like you can sleep on it”.  Also served on nitro it was dark creamy black with an aroma of dark malt and coffee. Lush C said it was sweet,smoky and smooth, like a good night in the tent by a campfire.(edited by the censors)  DD , not a fan of the darker beers had the quote of the day after tasting it, “ tastes like dirty water, it looks better than it tastes”.  I couldn’t disagree more, I thought it was delicious.

How time flew by.  After finishing our meal and drinks, we realized we had less than hour before we had to meet up with Bob Shirley for the game. We left Yaletown, and headed towards Canada Hockey Place.  On the way, I caught a glimpse of Dix Brewery, but unfortunately there wasn’t enough time to stop, after all, this trip really wasn’t about beer. We found Bob and Shirley, and stood in the security line to get into the Hockey venue. It was a bit frustrating, less than half of the available security lines were open, didn’t someone know that there was a game, or something called the Olympics in town.  Sorry, just a little rant.  The line wasn’t really that bad, and we were soon inside. (Canadian politeness really rubbed off on Eric, that wasn’t what he said at the time—Lush C)  Our seats were in the third deck, but we had a great view of the ice.  I was a little disappointed because the only beer on tap in the place was Molson and Coors Light.  I went with a Molson, once again not bad for a macro, but just not my thing.  Lush C also didn’t like its cool feel as it ran down her back and into her pants after the excited drunks behind us spilled all over her.

Olympic Hockey - by Lush C , Feb. 2010

On to the game.  Holy hockey pucks, the Canadians were excited.  The house was about 90% full with about 90% of those wearing Team Canada red and white.  It was exciting seeing all that Canadian pride.  Lush C spent the previous week memorizing the Canadian National Anthem and was bummed they didn’t open with it.  The game itself was a blow out.  Poor Slovakia, in their first ever Olympics, were just over matched by the gold favorites Canada.(USA and Canada are expected to meet for the gold, GO USA)   The final score was 18-0, the only drama was whether or not Slovakia would score, yet the crowd cheered the entire game as though it was nil-nil.   Bob did whisper to me that Hockey is one of those rare occasions where Canadians let go of their friendly demeanor. He may have been right, but they were very gracious at the end, and gave the Slovakia team, and especially there goalie (who was actually quite good. She just  had little help.  Canada had 69 shots on goal, which means she blocked 51!) a very long, and loud ovation.  While exiting the stadium, I was further impressed as the crowd harmoniously sang the Canadian National Anthem, some in English, and some in French.  It made me a bit jealous that our anthem really doesn’t lend itself to being sung in that setting.  I imagine back at home we’d just be chanting U-S-A–U-S-A!

Opening face off -by Lush C , Feb. 2010

Once we were finally out, we headed to the SkyTrain station to catch our lift back to Bob and Shirley’s home in Burnaby. Gosh darn, why can’t Seattle have a system as awesome as this.  Trains were coming about every 60 seconds. Sure we had to transfer to another train, but it was easy.  Mass-Transit rules, especially when on a Good Beer Trip.

We had planned to go out to dinner after a quick stop at Bob and Shirley’s, but we were all pretty tired, and were more interested in watching Speed Skating, and the recorded Opening Ceremonies.  So, we decided to just order pizza in.  What a great call.  We stayed up for a few hours watching the games, enjoying the company, and savoring the few beers Bob had on hand.  I had a nice Sleemans Honey Brown.   It was a great night!

After a very restful sleep, we all awoke to start day two of our adventure. Shirley was volunteering for the Olympics at Cypress and was already gone by the time we got up.  Bob took us out to breakfast at Whiter  Spot, which hit the spot.   He then took us to his favorite place to take guests, Burnaby Mountain Conservation Area.   I can see why he likes it!   There is an excellent view of Port Moody to the north, and Downtown Vancouver and North Vancouver to the west.  I doubt this spot is on the radar screen for tourists, but it should be.  It is a real gem!  Thanks Bob. (unfortunately, none of us brought a camera)

After a quick stop at home, Bob dropped us off at the SkyTrain, so we could head back downtown to where to the action was.  We were on a mission to find Olympic swag.  Shirley mentioned that The Bay department store was the place to go.  Conveniently, the SkyTrain took us right there.  We waited in line, and eventually made our way in to the official Olympic store.  Sadly, their stock was very depleted, and it was only day three.  If you were a kid or an xxl there were plenty of options, but if you were a normal adult, it was slim pickings.  We all ended up finding something to our liking, paid up and left the building.  The weather was beautiful on Sunday, and apparently all the residents of Vancouver decided to come out and see what was going on.  The streets blocked off for pedestrians were packed, as were the sidewalks on nearly all other streets.

Steamworks, and the line to get into the German House Beer Garden - by Lush C , Feb. 2010

By this time, we were all getting a little hungry, and thirsty, so I steered us towards Steamworks Brewing Company.  Once we got there finding the enterance was a challenge.   We were saddly turned away because they were too busy. Huh?  They weren’t even allowing customers to wait for a table.  I believe they knew there was a special event going on as they had an extra tent of seating in their parking lot, which was EMPTY.  Nicely, they did suggest going to their sister restaurant, Transcontinental, across the parking lot which they assured us had open seating, the same beer, and the same menu.

OK, I was game, and I didn’t know where else to go at this point, other than the German House Beer Garden in between the two.  I would have liked to check it out , but it already had a very long line to enter.  So, we snaked our way through the crowd and into the Transcontinental, and immediately were seated in the large upscale restaurant which is located in the old train station.  It was  very nice and comfortable inside.  The menu, at least for lunch, was high end pub fare.  Lush C had a very nice looking Salmon salad, and I had a very good Prime Rib Dip.

We were a little mislead on the beer though, as they only had two Steamworks Beers on tap.  Oh well, what are you going to do? Not being a beer drinker, WineyS ordered a local BC Chardonnay which she said was, “very good” and “reasonably priced”.  Lush C went  with the Nirvana Nut Brown.  She claimed , “it’s a nice crisp nut brown, that isn’t as heavy as most”.  Both DD and I went with the Pale Ale. It was a light amber with a sweet malt and hop aroma. The flavor was fairly sweet, almost like a honey ale, with a bit of a bitter finish. It was ok, but if I hadn’t known any better I would have thought it was a lager.  DD, wasn’t a big fan either, stating, “it’s passable”, I have to agree.

DraughtE posing as a local with his Steamworks - by Lush C , Feb. 2010

WineyS hiding behind her wine - by Lush C , Feb. 2010

Once again we were back on the streets, ready to walk the 2.7 miles to Pacific Central Station to jump the train back to Seattle.  We opted to go down one of the few streets that wasn’t super busy, avoiding the crowds.  We didn’t take a direct route, choosing instead to take one that would take us back to the trail along False Creek and past the Coca Cola tent at David Lam Park.  Unfortunately, as with all the exhibits, the line to get in was very long, so we kept going.  Along the way we stopped for some coffee which gave us the much needed caffeine to make the final push to the station.  We arrived very tired and ready to get on board to head home.   Very satisfied with our Olympic (Good Beer) Trip.   It was a great time.  I recommend that everyone experience an Olympics at least once in your life.  Sure I wish I had a few more days to enjoy the festivities, but feel we made the best with the time we had.

This really wasn’t a trip around beer, the  Olympics was the star of this show.  We will return, hopefully soon, to this wonderful city in search of good beer.  In the meantime you can check out SeattleBeerNews, visit the the Campaign for Real Ale Vancouver, or use Pubquest to help find good beer in Vancouver.

Thanks to the Damn Dane and WineyS for joining us and allowing me to drag them around, Lush C for putting up with my obsession, Vancouver, BC for hosting the Olympics so close to home, and an extra special thanks to Bob and Shirley who kindly allowed  us to stay with them



p.s.  I also got a new nickname on the trip.

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Canadian flag on a hockey stick -by Lush C , Feb. 2010

Line up at Yaletown. Notice the re-order line. - by Lush C , Feb. 2010

Aussie flag hanging proud - by Lush C , Feb. 2010

FTC Information: Do FTC regulations cover posts for businesses outside of the US?  What if I write it on train, or on a plane, or drink it on a boat? I guess it doesn’t really matter since GoodBeerTrips is not affiliated with any business listed in this post, and received nothing for free.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 20, 2010 5:10 am

    Wow, you guys packed a LOT into such a short trip. I can’t wait to visit BC again — it’s bee far too long.

    Shouldn’t it be “DraughtE”?

    • Chief Beer Officer permalink*
      February 20, 2010 7:14 am

      Yes, I thought about that last night while trying to get to sleep. Need to go change that. Thanks. And yes we packed a lot in, it was fun.

  2. February 20, 2010 12:56 pm

    I’m very impressed with your beer and hockey funtime. However, no trip to the heart of Cascadia is complete without stopping at our brewery, Chuckanut. Come see us next time!

    • DraughtE permalink*
      February 20, 2010 3:21 pm

      Thanks. Been to Chuckanut many of times. Even have a short post on it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t get the train to stop for us.



  3. Jill permalink
    April 7, 2010 1:54 pm

    How very fun!! We’ve driven Chuckanut Drive and seen tons of Eagles before, but the train would be a wonderful way to go. What a great experience. WineyS looks great as usual. I think the last picture of her that I remember was behind a margarita, but the location was from a country to the south. Glad she is covering both borders 😉

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