A Gastown craft beer stumbling tour
Hearty beers to go with sturdy food in a modern semi-gastro-pub setting. I was a sucker for the old spot because of the rickety chairs but with the Shebeen Whisk(e)y bar and Salty Tongue cafe combined, you have all your essentials including pot pies and shepherd's pie.
It's ostensibly an Irish pub, so Guinness or Kilkenny seem like the logical choices. But instead go with local Russel's Wee Angry Scotch Ale or look for the Howe Sound Rail Ale on tap here – made in Squamish, this nut brown is my go-to session beer.
I like divey but decent, and this landmark is the local equivalent of Star Wars’ Mos Eisley cantina filled with hostel backpackers, dope dealers, fried food and cheap beer – not as crafty as the others but completely devoid of any pretension.
The house Pale and Lager are made by local Russell and is cheap and serviceable but upgrade to the Russel Cream Ale or IPeh instead. The long benches ensure you get to know your neighbours whether you want to or not. Write your name in Sharpie on the table to prove you survived.
The Greedy Pig
I don't make it here as much as others, but friendly service, comfort food and a few solid tap handles make this a low-key getaway on busy nights. Sit at the bar, eat a grilled cheese sandwich or pickled quail eggs and watch a game in a non-sports bar atmosphere.
I enjoy Okanagan Spring Brewmaster Black Lager here – the best choice from an otherwise rather boring brewery (though I also like their Porter too).
Often packed with tourists but worth crowding in for the six-plus brews which are rotated to work in seasonal ales (and to stay up with demand). The Nirvana Nutbrown and Coal Porter are the front runners for me (the porter rotates with the Heroica Stout).
Skip the patio and head all the way downstairs for a pub-style area with pool tables and fireplaces but if waiting for the SeaBus, grab a seat at the mezzanine level bar, pay cash and keep an eye on the vessel arriving for a quick getaway.
Rogue Kitchen and Wetbar
Located in Waterfront Station with relatively-safe but solid choices – complete with tasting notes – make Rogue ideal for bringing your no-beer-geek pals (if you have any).
Go right for the prize with Crannóg's Backhand of God Stout which will teach you that God does love you and that's why she created beer. Order easy quaffing locals like Central City's Red Racer ESB, Deschutes Mirror Pond or Howe Sound's Garabaldi Honey Pale Ale for indecisive friends.
Still standing? Keep it going... Find the Wine Thief beer and wine store in front of Steamworks and load up your pockets with tall cans of Tree Brewing's Thirsty Beaver (which go down quick) or go pro with the Holsten Maibock which is strong and sweet. Then, walk across through the station towards the Seabus and zip out the Heliport exit towards Crab Park.
This mellow, underknow waterfront park makes a nice chill out to start or end the tour with a swill on the dock while watching tugboats toiling and float planes landing and classic railcars alongside commuters and boxcars. Head into your beloved Vancouver back over the lil' bridge at the north end of Main St. to complete your lap.
Tour: Follow my route in a free iPhone app called Urban Dig which includes a collection curated tours by renegade locals from LA to Vancouver. The tour includes my notes (with some hidden tips) plus photos and map. Be sure to "like" it.