Cask-tastic Vancouver

Photo: John Lee

The following article was contributed by Vancouver travel writer and Lonely Planet author John Lee (@johnleewriter)

With fall rolling in like a dense fog, there’s one effective way to forget the weather: down a pint or three of locally-made ale in a candlelit Vancouver bar.

But there’s no need to settle for your usual tipple: many of the city’s watering holes host regular, once-a-week guests cask events where they tap unique, experimental or limited edition brews that hardly ever make it into liquor stores – think beers like R&B’s Coffee Porter or Parallel 49’s Pumpkin Lager.

And since October’s is B.C. Craft Beer Month, this is the perfect time for a citywide cask crawl. In fact, how about a different one every day of the week?

Monday: With a taste bud-popping array of more than 40 drafts, Commercial Drive’s St. Augustine’s is a pilgrimage spot for craft beer nuts. Consider a taste test of four sample-sized beers or dive straight into a pint of Monday’s guest cask offering – it’s tapped at 6 p.m.

Tuesday: Perhaps Vancouver’s best old-school bar, the Railway Club pours a good array of B.C. draughts, often including favourites like Driftwood Fat Tug IPA and Crannog’s Back Hand of God Stout. Drop by at 5p.m. on Tuesdays, though, and you can guzzle a couple from the weekly guest cask – then stick around for some eclectic live music.

Wednesday: Every night is cask night at edge-of-Gastown Alibi Room where there are always at least a couple of additional guest casks available alongside the regular (but ever-changing) 50-draft beer list. Check the chalkboards when you arrive and don’t be surprised to spot intriguing brews like Espresso Stout, Dry-Hopped IPA or Oak Aged Pumpkin Ale.

Thursday: Celebrated brewmeister Iain Hill has been creating popular beers at Yaletown Brewing Company for years. But at 4 p.m. every Thursday, the resto-brewpub also taps one of his special kegs. Look out for ginger-tinged Nagila Pale Ale, citra-hopped Brick & Beam IPA and the sour, Belgian-style Oud Bruin.

Friday: Edge-of-Chinatown London Pub kicks off the weekend with it’s own 5 p.m. cask tapping. There’s often at least one Russell Brewing offering every month but October’s line-up also promises a couple of intriguing tastes from new Vancouver producers Parallel 49 and Coal Harbour Brewing.

Saturday: Mix it up on October 13 at the Campaign for Real Ale’s Harvest Cask Festival. Staged in conjunction with 2012’s B.C. Beer Awards, the public event will showcase great fall-season ales – expect brews of the hoppy, pumpkin and strong imperial variety. There will also be a couple of food carts for those who insist that beer is not the only food group.

Sunday: Since this is a day of rest, end your ale-hugging week at the Whip, just off Main Street. Their guest cask is tapped at 4 p.m. every Sunday and, in the past, has included lip-smacking one-off brews from local lads Storm, Central City and Howe Sound Brewing. Stick around for dinner, then plan to take Monday off.


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