Last week I was invited out by Vancouver Food Tour for their Gastown Craft Beer ‘n Bites Tour. Tours, especially those in my own hometown, have never appealed to me for various reasons, but this one involved beer, food and Gastown..so it was hard to say no.
- Beer tastings at each of the 3 destinations (3 beer flights)
- Delectable, hand-selected food pairings
- Informative and interactive guided walking tour
- Gratuities to your guide are highly appreciated
Time: Weekdays at 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm. Friday and Saturday at 4:00 – 7:00 pm.
Price: $75 CDN per person + HST
- $3 ticketing fee added upon check-out
- 5% off 6-11 guests, 10% off 12+ guests
Minimum capacity: 4 guests (guests will be notified 24 hours before tour if minimum not met)
Maximum capacity: 12 guests on public tours. Private tours can accommodate more.
We were told to meet up at a central location, Waterfront Station, where we would meet “Beer Nerd” Nicole Coetzee. She loves beer so much, that she’s set on becoming BC’s first female beer sommelier, having just finished the Cicerone certification examinations. Now that’s serious dedication to this hoppy beverage.
With a total of 3 venues, all of which I’ve patroned before but won’t disclose for the tours sake, and a rotating cycle of beers on tap, this means that the tour itself is organic and changes seasonally.
Throughout the rest of this post, I will put up the regular price beside the food item/beer if possible, just to allow you to have an idea of the value you’re getting. Keep in mind most of the food is, I’d say, approximately 1/3 or less the serving size and that the beers are tasters, so usually 4-5 oz.
At our first stop, we started with two beers I’m familiar with, and one I had just saw in the liquor stores recently. Seedspitter, definitely a summer beer for those watermelon cravings.
Phillips Brewing Phoenix Gold Lager (Bohemian Lager, 5% ABV)
Parallel 49 Seedspitter Watermelon Wit (Witbier, 5% ABV)
Driftwood Brewery Fat Tug IPA (Northwest IPA, 7% ABV).
All regular sleeves start from $5.50 and up.
Paired up left to right with the beers above were the following dishes below, and I quite liked the Lobster Mac & Cheese ($18.99), thought the Award Winning Chili ($11.99) was more stew-like (still good though!) and didn’t enjoy the Vietnamese ‘Tacos’ ($10.99).
Made with shellfish stock, I had originally tried this Lobster Mac & Cheese before last summer at Victor’s birthday dinner, and James had thought it was quite “meh” and not “lobster-y” enough, but this time around, I thought it was fantastic, rich, creamy and “lobster-y” enough. Perhaps there’s been an improvement since last summer ..or J’s tastebuds are not to be trusted.
On our way to the second venue, we took a short walk along Water St. where Nicole even offered up tidbits of information about Gastown that not even I nor the other locals had known. Value for the money!
Lost Coast Brewery Great White (Witbier, 5%)
Driftwood Brewery White Bark Ale (Witbier, 5%)
Crannog Ales Back Hand of God Stout (Irish Dry Stout, 5.2%).
$4-5 for a regular glass. For a cocktail focus place, it peeves me that they call it a glass. Let me know how many oz!
Again, two beers I’ve had before, White Bark & Back Hand, which is a favourite of mine.
Paired with a Scotch Egg ($4) w/ mayonnaise and Devils on Horseback ($6). My first time eating one of these strangely named appetizers, and what a bizzare combination. Prunes and greer cheese wrapped in bacon. I had three of them, and while intensely complex and paired well with the Crannog, I had to give Sean my last one, way too rich.
Of special note, the mayonnaise is made from the leftover egg yolks that is accumulated from the usage of egg whites in the cocktails here. No waste in a restaurant always makes me happy.
For our last venue, it was a bit further out than what most people would categorize as Gastown, but it’s very beer forward, with an extensive bottle list and a rotating tap list.
Lighthouse Brewing Switchback IPA (American IPA, 6.5%)
Russell Brewing VCBW 2012 Cascadian Brown Ale Collaboration (American Brown Ale, 5.5%)
R&B Brewing Stumpy Coffee Porter (Exclusive!)
Here, the beers start at $5.50 for a glass. Again, the whole glass thing…
I love IPA’s and Porters, so this was a walk in the park for me, but for the more uninitiated to beer, the hoppiness can really turn them off and I understand. To that, I also say, keep trying and you’ll eventually develop the palate for it!
Paired with Flour-less Chocolate Cake with walnut and raspberry compote, it was a “bitter-sweet” ending to this wonderful tour. Multiple beers in at this time, it led to more animated conversations and topics.
Now speaking candidly, is this tour worth taking? Yes, for tourists, day visitors or cruise ship visitors to Vancouver, it’s a nice way to spend a few hours in one of Vancouver’s most beautiful neighbourhoods. It’s also fun for a no brainer/no thinking stag or staggette, with the possibility of getting messy later on through the night.
For locals, Nicole is filled to the brim with knowledge of beer, and will be an amazing and patient guide to those uninitiated with craft beer or even those that are slightly familiar with it, like myself.