Here’s the East Vancouver version of mission impossible when it comes to a COVID-19 Spring Vol. 2: getting a spot on a craft-brewery patio.
To go searching for a table between the hours of 2 to 7 p.m. on weekdays, and all day weekends, is to go home convinced that you live in a city where everyone else has what you don’t.
Like a house, apartment, or windowless walk-out “garden suite” that rents for less than $1,500 (plus utilities) a month. Or a Tesla, Mercedes, Ferrari, or any other grotesquely stupid status car driven by those with more money than sense. Or a job.
But mostly, the thing everyone but you seems to have is a seat in the sun at Parallel 49 Brewing, East Van Brewing Company, Powell Brewery, or Off the Rail Brewing. It’s an eternal optimist who strolls down to the local watering hole at happy hour thinking that there’ll be a frosty pitcher of Hillbilly Ninja Pale Ale, Blackberry Saison, or Dive Bomb Porter in their immediate future.
And then there’s grim reality for the rest of us. Yes, nothing says “the glass is half-empty instead of half-full” like two hours of standing curbside on a waiting list while watching those with their act together order another round of Psycle Path Lager.
“Curbside” is the key word there. There’s a reason brewery patio seats in East Van this spring have been harder to find than a sane person at an antimask rally. Two weeks ago, British Columbia halted all indoor dining and drinking at restaurants, bars, and pubs to try and slow down a pandemic we all could not be more sick of.
Obviously, the timing could have been better. This being the West Coast, the arrival of spring is supposed to mean the official end of five months that are more grey and depressing than Joy Division’s “Walk In Silence”, Lars Von Trier’s Breaking the Waves, and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road.
The reward for enduring an endless West Coast winter of staying home and drinking in the dark while listening to Dead Can Dance, “Dead Leaves and the Dirty Ground”, and everything ever released on 4AD Records? It was supposed to be an end to the hibernation season. For the beer drinkers among us, that meant heading to the mecca known as Yeast Van and soaking up the sun on a patio. The wrinkle no one predicted has been everyone else in the city lounging on those patios because no one can sit indoors.
The goal now? That would be finding a spot that hasn’t turned into a wildly busy magnet for those who’ve been trapped in their living rooms since last September.
We’re here to help.
Should you find yourself in East Van in the coming sun-soaked days, by all means try to land a table at Parallel 49, East Van Brewing Company, Powell Brewery, or Off the Rail. There’s a reason they are packed, and that’s because they’re great at what they do.
But should you strike out, you’ve got options. The following craft breweries have a some things in common. First, they make some of the best, which is to say most imaginative, beer in the city: Extraña-Mango Ghost Pepper IPA, Hedgerow Sour Cherry Wild Ale, Albicocchin Barrel Aged Sour with Apricots, and Indulgeousness #3 Imperial Stout, because their patios seemed to have suddenly popped up as a response to indoor-imbibing being banned, they aren’t yet go-to destinations for outdoor drinking. That explains why we’ve always been able to get a seat with zero problems this spring.
So looking to not only getting out of the house, but also finding a place other than Dude Chilling Park to sit down and have a beer? Try the following locales. And please don’t tell anyone but your closest friends that they exist. Unless, that is, you enjoy standing curbside on the outside looking in.
Andina Brewing Company
1507 Powell Street
Clever folks make the most of what they’ve got. At Andina that meant turning an adjacent parking lot into a pop-up patio. Those who love beers that take chances will love not only the Extraña-Mango Ghost Pepper IPA but the Cocada Coconut Lime Sour and Oscura Black Cherry Stout. As an added bonus, Andina features a menu that helps take the sting out of the fact you’re not going to any of the seven countries (Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, and Colombia) that touch the Andes Mountains any time soon. Come for the beer, and stay for the authentic plantain nachos, empanadas, chifles, and ceviche de pescado. (andinabrewing.ca)
Luppolo Brewing Company
1123 Venables Street
The beauty of Luppolo’s outdoor patio is the way that it’s been set up for more than sunny weather. Half the tables are not only covered by a canopy, but feature overhead heaters that are going to come in handy during the endless monsoon of June-uary. Coming at things from an Italian perspective that reflects the background of its owners, Luppolo’s offerings run from La Piazza Italian Pilsner to Passeggiata Vienna Lager to the namechecked-above Albicocchin Sour. Whisk yourself away to the Old Country with Puglia-style Italian pretzels, and capricciosa, funghi, and Siciliana pizzas. (luppolobrewing.ca)
Strange Fellows Brewing
1345 Clark Drive
Few things are more satisfying than kicking back with a beer while watching the bridge-and-tunnel rat-race folks of Greater Vancouver navigate the major traffic artery known as Clark Drive. Indoor seating has always been limited at Strange Fellows, which explains why, in more normal times, the place was perpetually packed despite being in the middle of a nondescript industrial strip. Score a seat and settle in with Old World–inspired offerings like Jongleur Belgian Style Wit, Habitude-Foudre Aged Wild Ale, and the cherrylicious Hedgerow Sour. Recent pop-ups have given beer fans the chance to shop for B.C.–made ceramics and cosmetics after ordering from a food menu that includes chicken pot pie, Jamaican patties, and charcuterie boards. (strangefellowsbrewing.com)
Superflux Beer Company
505 Clark Drive
The craft brewery with the best beer labels in show business deserves some sort of award for acting quickly in a crisis. It’s almost as if Superflux pulled together a patio overnight after the March 29 indoor-seating ban. Need a reason to pop by after a shopping spree at the nearby Gourmet Warehouse? Start with the Indulgeousness #3 Imperial Stout with Tahitian, Madagascar, and Mexican vanilla beans. Or an Colour & Shape IPA or Easy Tiger Pale Ale. Foodwise the hot dogs are well on their way to becoming cult faves in Vancouver, with the Funyun made with Two Rivers all-natural dry-aged beef and sour cream, and the Smokie served with Avonlea cheddar and zucchini mustard pickles. (superfluxbeer.com)