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Bombed in Beautiful British Columbia

August 26, 2010

We love heading up to Vancouver, BC.  It’s very international and different from Seattle, but at the same time similar enough to make us feel comfortable.  To top it off there are some great breweries in B.C.  Therefore, I was pretty excited when our friend H-Bomb opened up her girls only 40th Birthday weekend to the boys

LushC and I headed up Friday morning to get an early jump on the weekend.  After making the two and half hour drive plus 15 minute border crossing we found ourselves pretty hungry.  We set our destination into my new iPhone TomTom app and soon found our way to the Big River Brewpub in Richmond, BC.

Big River Brewpub
Nestled in the middle of an entertainment mall the Big River Brewpub doesn’t look like much on the outside, but on the inside it has a great riverside lodge feel.   The motif is very Pacific Northwest outdoorsman. (Or is that that the Pacific Southwest Canada?) There was a canoe on the ceiling, fishing gear and buoys on the wall and other hunting, fishing and boating paraphernalia throughout.  Perhaps the coolest of all was the busing station that looked like a can of tuna fish complete with a jagged cut out lid above.   They had a great eye for detail.

There is a long narrow seating area, with a river rock fireplace on one end and the brewery on the other. The long bar has plentiful seating and great outdoor patio.  For the sports enthusiast there is a bowling alley attached!

The menu was pretty typical pub food with a Northwest flair.  Not too exciting, but it works for the venue.  LushC enjoyed her Teriyaki Salmon Sandwich, and I scarfed down my Chicken Burger.

When it came down to ordering our beer sampler, we had two choices the Dark Taster or the Light Taster.  We chose to join the dark side.

BEER SAMPLER (Dark Taster)
Pale Ale – An interesting English Style Pale Ale. Light bodied honey flavor followed by mild hop bitterness.
Seasonal Hefeweizen – German style Hefe with the distinctive banana and clove flavor that was light and refreshing.  It was served with a lemon which added a citrus flavor (surprise) that over shadowed the clove and banana.
ESB – Interesting and very different flavored. It was smooth with coppery malt and hop flavor and a hint of smoked malts.
Nut Brown – A nice smooth and robust brown ale with notes of toffee and caramel and almost a root beer flavor.
Dry Stout- nice roasted malt flavor, creamy, smooth with a coffee finish.  We liked it!

Flying Beaver Bar and Grill

We left River Rock, ran some errands, then headed to our next destination, the Flying Beaver Bar and Grill. We were very glad we did.  Not only does it have a great name, the Flying Beaver is a super unique and cool bar.  It is located right on the Middle Arm of the Fraser River, and serves as the float plane terminal at Vancouver airport.   With its large windows we sat and relished our beer while watching float planes land and takeoff.  It feels like a river front cabin, which is what it is.

We only stopped in for a quick beer and didn’t order any food. I took a quick peak at the table tent menu which had a bunch of appetizers and stone oven pizza that all sounded great. We’ll definitely need to come back!

Being part of the Mark James Group (Yaletown Brewery), but not a brewpub, I was a little disappointed in there draught beer selection.  They had a few selections from Okanagan Springs, Alexander Keith’s, Sleeman’s, and a Brewmaster Black Lager. (I assumed this was from one of their breweries).  They did have an impressive drink menu though.

Being in a hurry to get to our hotel, we only stayed for one beer.  LushC went with a glass of the Black Lager.  Feeling special, I went with the daily special, Okanagan Springs 1516 Bavarian Lager.

Brewmaster Black Lager – It was very nice with an initial sweet taste and a crisp finish.  It has a certain lightness to it which is good on hot day yet has a deep backbone of dark malt flavor. Like a craft beer version of Negro Modelo
Okanagan Springs 1516 Bavarian Lager – basic malty lager with a mild hop finish. Not bad, but not super exciting.

Following an extremely annoying drive though rush hour and downtown pedestrian traffic we arrived at the Empire Landmark Hotel.   In a very comical deadpan, but yet very helpful, manor we were assisted by Jock who checked us in.  In his non-emotional way, he gave us our room card, and let us know that we got a free upgrade, on the house.  When we arrived to the room, it was easy to see that the upgrade was all in the view.   We were on the 35th floor looking out over Stanley Park with a 180 degree view from English Bay to Vancouver Harbor.  It was definitely a five star view.  Unfortunately, the room did not match.  Don’t get me wrong, it was very clean, the bed and linens were comfortable, and it had a 42in Flat Panel TV.  It was just very dated.  I’d say it hadn’t been updated since the early nineties.  Of course, if it had been updated, it wouldn’t have been only $145 CDN a night.

We freshened up and then began texting the rest of the party to see what the plan for the evening was. They had just arrived at their hotel, were doing the whole check in thing, and then were going to head to Yaletown for dinner.  Did I hear Yaletown???  To me that meant only one thing, Yaletown Brewery!  (They probably had other ideas) Nonetheless, LushC and I laced up our walking shoes (I was wearing very cute shoes that don’t require laces, I’m not 80-LushC) and headed to Yaletown Brewery, figuring that it would be a good place to meet up. (Checkout a previous visit to Yaletown Brewing)

We arrived about fifteen minutes ahead of everyone else and the Yaletown Brewery was packed. We found a couple of seats in the bar and each ordered a pint of Hills Special Wheat, a German style unfiltered wheat beer.  As expected it had the distinctive banana and clove flavor that German Wheat Beers have, and since it was unfiltered it was full bodied. When you added the included lemon it became more refreshing. (I’m sure some Beer God is rolling over in their grave)

Before we finished our beer the rest of the crew joined us, the birthday girl H-Bomb, T-Wrecked and JP (From our Kitsap County day trip).  By this point there was no more room in the bar, and the wait for a table was two hours.  Forcing us to leave and find another place for dinner. We didn’t have to go far.  Right around the corner was Milestone’s Grill and Bar with only a ten minute wait.  We got our table and the night officially began with a round of double cocktails. During our meal, we started strategizing our evening. We had two more joining us, at different times, so we opted to head to H-Bomb’s Hotel Suite to meet them.  They had brought up some wine and champagne, but I spotted a beer and wine store across the street. While they finished up with the bill I went over and picked up  6 –packs of Granville Island Pale Ale and IPA.  (By the way, beer is expensive in Vancouver. It was $28 for two six-packs)

When we arrived at H-Bombs room, Ms. T was sitting outside the door waiting for us with her glass of Tilt.  We went inside and proceeded to drink!  I don’t remember the last time I partied in a hotel room, maybe it was in college?  Since they all work together, there was a lot of shop talk, but it wasn’t too bad, it was mostly just juicy gossip.  The window had a good view of several condo buildings so we (okay I) had a good time peering into see what was going on.  I still want to know what the lady in pink was doing in the large living room across the way. She’d come into the room box or dance in front of the window, and then leave the room, repeating this several times before sitting down on the couch for a few minutes before she vanished for good.

H-Bomb tried to get us motivated a couple of times to leave and go to a bar or something, but we just kept drinking. Heck we had alcohol, and Ms. T turned on VH1, what else did we really need? Eventually, after sever hours, H-Bomb persuaded us to leave.

Guided by yours truly, our band of merry drinkers made our way to Steamworks Brewery.  We walked into their main floor entrance, past the full tables of revelers, and down the stairs to their comfortable lower level.  We found a table large enough for all of us and grabbed it. We all ordered our drinks and continued on.  LushC selected the Coal Porter which was very smooth, rich and malty. I went with the Seasonal IPA, which I remember liking, but can’t remember much about it.  By this point the night gets pretty fuzzy and because of this I’ll leave a full report of Steamworks for another visit.  I’ll just say that it is a great place, and you should check it out.

It wasn’t long before Bee, the final member of our party, joined us.   After a round or two, we settled up and hit the streets to look for our next bar. We walked down Granville St which was blocked off for pedestrian traffic only.  It was late, but the streets were full of drunk Canadian Youngsters (the drinking age is 19).  We saw a poor girl trying to help her boyfriend pull up his pants as he sat on a bench puking. (I’ve done worse). We made it down several blocks before an Irish Bar was spotted and a b-line was made for it.

Before entering, LushC and I decided to skip this last stop.  It was past 1am and we had been at it since a little after Noon. We were tired and wanted to actually wake up the next day and be functional.  With sad eyes JP tried to persuade us to stay, but it wasn’t enough. We hoofed it back to our hotel, and slept great!

To be continued….

Random photo from our night

Dear FTC, Nothing was received for free, except a room upgrade.  Thank you for keeping us safe.

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