Biercraft, Vancouver.

November 2015.

This place has been around for several years, and has I think three locations in the city. I’ve been to two of them before, but somehow didn’t appreciate that there is some claim to cuisine on top of the almost endless variety of, academic preoccupation with, and competitive-with-wine snobbery associated with… beer.

The menu is just-off conventional, but it’s fundamentally fast food plus, done quite beautifully. The Cambie location sort of embraces a barbershop so that it is U-shaped with the street at the top. In summer there is a side patio. The welcome is cheery and brisk, and our server is a cute and pleasantly unpolished 20-ish girl very knowledgeable about her beer. Also accessible (not very busy at noon on a Saturday) was an older guy who really knows his beer and has been all over Europe and North America enhancing that knowledge, who chatted with us.

Mussels are a specialty. They come in a choice of six preparations, and (limnologist though I am) I have to confess I don’t know how you can get steamed mussels in a place in Prince Edward Island which are like dried organic miniature paper clips, and get the sweet chubby strawberry-blonde delights the size of the last section of your thumb they serve here, and elsewhere. Just fabulous, for me this time with peppers and chorizo in a tomato-garlic liquid with fresh bread to sop it up.

Also seemingly random in its distribution is properly-prepared french fries. The ones today were as crisp as any I’ve had, but ever-so-slightly burnt-flavoured, suggesting the finish had been done at a wee bit too-high temperature. Somebody just not paying attention. According to Robin, the fries here are normally near-perfect. Her mushroom sandwich was very tasty.

They drew me a lovely mug of Pilsner Urquell (I remarked that the variety available in this place is wasted on me), and Robin had a “flight” of four tasters of beer, set up after consultation between the server and senior guy. These beers had that slightly bitter and “green” emphasis that I seem to find and usually object to in the products of artisan breweries, somehow here quite charming. Sorry, I don’t know what they were.

Food 7.9 (beer 8.9 for the endless selection), service 7.7, ambience “authentic”, value 8.1. I’m sure we’ll be back.

About John Sloan

John Sloan is a senior academic physician in the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia, and has spent most of his 40 years' practice caring for the frail elderly in Vancouver. He is the author of "A Bitter Pill: How the Medical System is Failing the Elderly", published in 2009 by Greystone Books. His innovative primary care practice for the frail elderly has been adopted by Vancouver Coastal Health and is expanding. Dr. Sloan lectures throughout North America on care of the elderly.
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