We’ve waxed poetic (and otherwise) over the years about what used to pass for a pub in Vancouver. Having been eclipsed for so long by Victoria (which benefitted maybe just a tad from being the seat of political and bureaucratic power), Vancouver is finally coming into its own.
In the last few years there’s been a welcome surge in the number of good places to hoist a pint, from the Alibi Room to Steamworks, Tap & Barrel, and Bitter, to mention just a few. Not only that but the quality of local brews has improved tenfold.
Likely because of BC’s burgeoning brew scene, when we returned to Portland Craft (3835 Main Street, Vancouver; 604.569.2494) with a friend to grab a couple of pics—and make sure that Hopworks Organic IPA really is that good—she expressed surprise that it was all about Oregon—and not BC brews.
It didn’t take more than a few sips, though, to confirm that the celebration of our hop-savvy pioneer to the south is indeed a good thing.
Here’s what we had to say in the Courier …
Main Street pub taps into Oregon’s craft brewing scene
Portland Craft pours on laid-back charm
By Tim Pawsey, Contributing writer
The Hired Belly is picky about his pubs. Show me a laid-back room with serious pints, agreeable bites and a dollop of that all-too-elusive ingredient known as congeniality and I’m happy to be there, no matter where in the world.
There was a time when, to put it politely, Vancouver was distinctly “pub-challenged.” No more. These days you can take your pick of hop-havens, from character-driven craft breweries to multi-tap emporia sporting flat screens that warn how few pints of your favourite brew remain.
Portland Craft (3835 Main St., 604-569-2494) is a pub with a difference. If the name isn’t a giveaway, apart from the locally brewed Main Street Pilsner you won’t find any B.C. beers on tap, as the whole point is to celebrate Oregon’s vibrant and long established craft brewing scene.
Like its city namesake, Portland Craft is suitably laid-back with the natural wood clad room showcasing a long line of 16 taps, dispensing stalwarts such as Deschutes, Pyramid, Elysian, Rogue and others.
When I reveal my penchant for IPA, the bartender leads me to Hopworks Organic and obliges with a fresh tasting pint that yields the right amount of tartness with a touch of citrus and a smooth, well-balanced finish.
Also on the blackboard, a solid cocktail list (courtesy of The Diamond’s Ron Oliver) offering the likes of a Portland Sour, as well as a short list of moderately priced wines-the one area, with the exception of Firesteed’s easy sipping Pinot Noir), that doesn’t tip its hat to Oregon.
The other major departure-not a TV in the place. Maybe it’s my imagination but it seems to enhance that elusive ambiance of engaged conversation, snippets of spirited discussion and laughter that waft around the room-along with some edgy tunes.
Somewhere upstairs is a tucked-away kitchen that puts out pub fare with an adventurous twist, including “Inner City Salad,” sourced from local backyards. For a while it was a toss-up between the daily pizza ($9, meat or vegetarian), manila clams ($10) and the good-looking Portland Craft burger with pickled beets, aged cheddar, organic salad, or fries ($14).
In the end we were lured by Pig and Pots, a small dish of crunchy pork belly slices beside enthusiastically salt and peppered fingerling potatoes and grainy Dijon mustard ($8)-the perfect bite to my pint. We’ll be back for the stout chocolate lava cake.