The only authority for all things beer…
I recently went on an epic ski trip to Whistler Blackcomb near Vancouver with a bunch of guys. We stayed in downtown Vancouver for a couple nights before leaving for the States. A buddy and I wanted to try some Vancouver-brewed beer on our last night in Canada and we decided to go check out the Steamworks Brewing Company (SBC) which is located in the historic Gastown District in downtown Vancouver right next to the Canada Place. The name is derived from the steam line that runs through their premises. The instant heat of steam allows for greater brewing finesse, and most importantly, brewing the great tasting beer we had that night.
SBC is humongous and full of character that seems to tailor-fit a customer’s tastes. There’s a large outdoor patio perfect for people watching along the Gastown District or the magnificent waters of Vancouver. This brewery reminded me of a carnival fun house – each area had something unique and interesting to offer. Beautiful high ceilings, large mirrors, dark wood, spacious, long rooms, and old fashioned, yet chic. My buddy and I decided to hit up the bar to sample flights and order a meal. We came across a very knowledgeable, attentive, and interesting bartender, Adam White, who went above and beyond what service really stood for. After hooking us up with some awesome beers, he chatted about his frequent deep-powder skiing excursions in the area (lucky bastard) and the Canadian beer industry. Only if we had more dope bartenders like Adam back here in the States, nobody would want to cook or let alone drink at home.
Back to the food and beers. we had one of their pub favorites, a platter of plump breaded chicken tenders and excellent sauce, to start with. For dinner, I had a full rack of slow cooked baby back ribs slow cooked in Steamworks bbq sauce, roast potatoes, and mixed vegetables. My buddy had a wild red spring Pacific Northwest salmon filet which was cedar planked along with roasted red pepper scallion soy jus, coconut basmati rice, and mixed vegetables. Everything was just outstanding. I only wish I skipped the appetizers so I could have made more room for the outstanding beers.
I was fortunate to sample the following beers: Lions Gate Lager (crisp Czech hop finish), Empress IPA (strong, malty, floral and bitter pale ale), Signature Pale Ale (love the “eminently quaffable” signature to it – caramel maltiness), Nirvana Nut Brown Ale (malty and dry hops), Heroica Oatmeal Stout (dark and dry oat stout), Coal Porter (smooth and creamy), and a Belgian-style Saison (sweet spicy classic Belgian ale). My buddy and I remarked to each other over and over about the impeccable quality of the brews and that we would definitely drink these any day.
Ross (Rosco) Burns, the brewery manager, came over to us and introduced himself. Ross was very gregarious, easy-going and extremely knowledgeable about beers. We talked about his impressive career in the restaurant/brewing industry and my blogging experience. Rosco and I both shared similar Northwestern beer favorites such as Deschutes and Ninkasi. After finishing our dinner, Ross offered to take us on a personal tour of the cellar area in the basement of the brewery. What a treat! As Ross took the lead from the bar area, we walked through the brewery’s stylish Über Lounge and adjoining atrium which are perfect for larger functions. Their more intimate and private Wine Room and Harbour View Room can be used separately or together for any kind of event. The thought of discovering more rooms as we walked down the spiral staircase blew my mind away. In the cellar area – holy crap! We’re looking at huge sitting areas, pool tables, a very long wooden bar, TVs blasting across the room, interesting décor, wooden barrels/kegs, and hidden cellar rooms.
Ross continued to let us into this long, but narrow brewing operations. We saw a small lab with a white board schedule showing beer release dates. Ross explained some of the brewing process – very innovative with how they use the steamlines and ferment their beers within such a tight space to serve such a large capacity. Amazing stuff. Ross surprised us by allowing us to sample a four week early brew of their popular North by Northwest IPA (also known as, “NXNW”). I was personally blown away and could only imagine what the beer would taste like at full maturation. Send a growler my way?
As my buddy and I bid farewell to Rosco and Adam, I thought to myself what other place during our entire stay in Vancouver did we find such quick, impeccable, patient, courteous, and friendly service? The views were sexy and attractive (okay, the waitresses too). Good beer and food. This is the place to go for any visitor especially for a world beer hunter like myself.
Personal thanks to the excellent employees at Steamworks for a very memorable night of drinking. Hope to stop by again sooner than later.
Steamworks Brewing Company – Vancouver: http://www.steamworks.com/
-special thanks to patrick yellin for sharing some of his photography