Category Archives: beer

Best of Vancouver, August 2017

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Sharing plates at Vij’s Rangoli

 

The biggest emphasis, of course, is on the food and drinks, but still a great place to hang out for a week

Best of Vancouver: A pictorial guide

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Street Legal IPA, from Twin Sails Brewing, Port Moody, B.C. Fabulous, not-too-hoppy IPA.

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Siegel’s Bagels: Montreal-style chewy, boiled then baked in a wood-fired oven, open 24 hours, $13 for a baker’s dozen

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Jericho Beach

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Best outdoor pool in the world

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Hawker’s Delight: deep-fried vegetable fritters, two for $1.20

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Mr. Red: deep-fried rice cakes with ground prawns and pork, Northern Vietnamese cuisine

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Go Fish: fish and chips, tacones, hanging out in the harbour

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Vij’s Rangoli: Puffy short-rib samosas

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Fireworks over English Bay: Photo Helen Corbett

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Peaceful Restaurant: Dan-Dan hand-cut noodles

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Chip’s simple garden: sunflowers and coleus

Worst of Vancouver

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Red sun at night… and in morning, obliterating all those million-dollar views

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Vancouver gas prices; they were under $1 in Calgary at the same time

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Platform 7: Cool atmosphere but thinnest pour-over coffee I’ve ever had. You could see further through this brew than the forest-fire haze.

Caravel a fine addition to Calgary’s craft brewing scene

Caravel Brewery

Caravel is one of Calgary’s newest, largest craft breweries

When Vladislav and Victoria Covali started making beer at home in their native Moldova, they gathered wild hops from the forest. Other ingredients were purchased at farmers’ markets.

That’s in sharp contrast to today. Vladislav and partner Chris Travis are owners of one of Calgary’s newest and largest craft breweries, Caravel, in an industrial park near the city’s airport. The 19,000-square-foot facility is full of gleaming tanks and grains purchased from as far away as Germany.

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A gleaming row of kegs

Caravel is brewing three, unfiltered standards—a European-style lager, an Irish red and an award-winning Hefeweizen—along with seasonals like an IPA and a Scotch ale. Drop by their taproom to sample these fine beers and to fill up a growler.

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Caravel partner Vladislav Covali has come a long ways from his Moldova home beer-making days

Caravel Craft Brewery
12, 10221 15 Street NE, Calgary
Tuesday to Thursday 2 pm-9 pm, Friday 1 pm-9 pm, Saturday 11 am-9 pm, Sunday 11 am-5 pm. Closed Monday
Facebook: @CaravelCraftBrewery

It’s the Selection That Counts

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I’m always on the lookout for local microbrews. And Tucson’s Plaza Liquors delivers

“It looks like a dump,” my companion observes as we pull up to Plaza Liquors & Fine Wines in central Tucson.

Mind you, her admitted preference in beer is “rat’s piss,” so I’m not taking her opinion too seriously. I’m relying more on the advice of the barista and a customer at nearby cutting-edge-cool Presta Coffee Roasters. I figure coffee aficionados know where to pick up good local micro brews.

Bingo! As soon as we push open the Plaza’s strip-mall doors and enter the dimly lit interior, I know we’re in the right place. In behind a guy swirling and sniffing a glass of California Pinot are rows of global craft beers stuffed into every nook and cranny. And I like the way they’re organized, by country and by style, such as IPAs, porters and lagers.

Most importantly, from my perspective, is a whole shelf of Arizona beers, which is harder to find than you’d think. There’s Arizona Trail Ale and Road Rash IPA from That Brewery (okay, not an inspired name) in Pine, Arizona. And there’s Lost Highway Double Black IPA from Flagstaff’s estimable Mother Road Brewing Co. And the piece de resistance: a fine selection from Tucson’s fabulous Iron John’s Brewing Company, worthy of the $8-plus for a big bottle of small-batch goodness.

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You can’t beat Iron John’s when it comes to Tucson beers

The lesson, as always: don’t judge a place by its location or exterior. It’s the inside that counts.

Plaza Liquors & Fine Wine
2642 North Campbell Avenue, Tucson, Arizona
Daily 10 am-9 pm except Sunday noon-6 pm

A wobbling cycle hop at Calgary’s newest craft brewery

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Bike tour lands at Calgary’s newest craft brewery, Annex Ale. All photos by Helen Corbett

Annex Ale Project just opened on a commercial side street in southeast Calgary. So how busy can its taproom be on a warm spring Saturday afternoon, especially on a weekend when the annual Calgary International Beerfest should be siphoning off the hard-core aficionados?

The swigging crowd at Annex is actually not too bad when we arrive. But mayhem soon descends, when some 75 cyclists wobble into the parking lot. They’re on a three-microbrewery cycling tour, part of the citywide Jane’s Walks weekend. And they’ve certainly worked up a thirst, forming a long line to the counter, where co-owner and brewmaster Andrew Bullied and staff are scurrying to fill pints and taster glasses.

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Before the cyclists descend

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After

We’ve already staked out counter seats, where we can enjoy the show while sampling Annex’s four, small-batch brews on tap: a pale ale, a bitter, a sour and, our favourite, the Prologue IPA (7.8%). We also try a Calgary first, their delightful, all-natural root beer along with a novel bowl of salty cheese strings.

Annex Ale Calgary

Tasters’ choice. Annex’s flights feature generous 6-ounce pours, all for $10

It’s a nice, bright space (a former woodworking shop) in Calgary’s Manchester district, with long tables along spacious front windows and a big glass garage door, which can be opened on hot days. In back, a gleaming row of steel tanks harbours batches of brewing beer.

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The business end of the brewery

Annex is a fine addition to Calgary’s booming craft beer scene. Soon enough, you’ll be able to fashion a full day of beer hopping on a bike.

Annex Ale Project
4323 1 Street S.E., Calgary, Alberta
Taproom  hours:  Thursday 3 pm-10 pm, Friday 3 pm-11 pm, Saturday noon-11 pm, Sunday noon-5 pm. Closed Monday to Wednesday
403-475-4412

Pints & Poses: Yoga Meets Beer in Tucson, Arizona

Pueblo Vida, Tucson Arizona

We slip into Pueblo Vida, in Tucson, for some sampling right after the weekly yoga session.

It seems yoga has infiltrated nearly every aspect of western life. So why not beer?

At Pueblo Vida Brewing Co., in downtown Tucson, it’s called Pints & Poses. On Sundays at 10:30 am, the pub tables are rolled to the walls and the mats laid out for a guided one-hour session of yoga. All that stretching is rewardedwith some elbow bending: a pint of Pueblo microbrew, all for the bargain price of $5.

Of course, we arrive just after the sweaty posing’s completed (I’ve never seen so many glowing bodies in a pub) and head straight to the tasting table. We order a flight of four samples—ranging from the Northwest IPA to a breakfast stout—all delicious, noontime refreshments.

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I’ve never seen so many healthy, fit folks in a pub as at the Pints & Poses session at Pueblo Vida

The 2.5-year-old Pueblo Vida is a rather exclusive brewery. You can choose from some 10 beers on tap at the pub, fill a growler or purchase a very limited selection of cans. You can also find the brewery’s products at a scattering of pubs and restaurants in the Tucson area. Good luck, though, locating it at your local beer merchant.

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Now, this is my idea of taking flight

But don’t get bent out of shape. Just show up for the next Pints & Poses session. It’s only an hour of contortions before the suds start flowing.

Pueblo Vida Brewing Co.
115 East Broadway Boulevard, Tucson, Arizona
Monday to Thursday 4 pm-10 pm, Friday 2 pm-11 pm, Saturday noon-11 pm, Sunday noon-8 pm

Iron John’s: Best Beer in Arizona?

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Iron John’s tasting room, with the brewery in back, in Tucson, Arizona

I’ve had my share of beer flights. It’s a good way to quickly sample a craft brewer’s, or pub’s, range of offerings. But in my experience, the wee glasses are usually thrown back like shots, so you can move on to the main event: a particular pint.

This is definitely not the case at Iron John’s Brewing Company, located in an out-of-the-way industrial bay in central Tucson, Arizona. Here, a flight is a selection of four beers, carefully decanted into four-ounce snifters.

But damned if it doesn’t take two of us the better part of 30 minutes to work our way through these four samples in Iron John’s little tasting room, interrupted only by cracking open peanuts in the shell. That’s because each sip is treated like a fine single-malt scotch as we considered the complexities, the subtle notes, the lingering flavours of chocolate, pear, hibiscus, etc.

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A flight of outstanding beer samples, chased with some peanuts. What more do you need?

I won’t bore you with the details of these four beers—a rye IPA, a seasonal porter, a strong ale and a red ale—other than to note that they’re produced in small batches and hand bottled.

Which means that to taste how outstanding these brews are (maybe the best in all of Arizona), you’ll likely have to make a trip to Tucson and visit the tasting room/brewery or ferret out the pubs, markets and fine beer stores that carry the stuff.

But if you do find it, you won’t mind spending an hour savouring this nectar or dropping an average of $7 for a 500-millilitre bottle to take home.

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Happy camper

But you’d best hurry. Just as I decide the Julio Rye IPA is the finest of our four samples, my pourer informs me the bottles of same have just sold out.

Guess that means another trip from Canada to Tucson.

Iron John’s Brewing Company
245 South Plumer Avenue, #27, Tucson, Arizona
Monday to Saturday 11 am-7 pm. Closed Sunday
520-775-1727