Westender released its annual Best of the City Dining Awards this week, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to highlight some of the very deserving beer-related winners. Check out the full readers’ poll results here.
Best Craft Brewery: 33 Acres Brewing Co.
While some breweries might be content to throw things at the wall and see what sticks, 33 Acres takes a decidedly different approach. Everything they do — whether it’s their marketing, their choice of beer styles, their recipes — it’s all deliberate, with a singular concept in mind.
“Everything at 33 Acres is very purpose driven and the stories we typically write for our beers are what we’re actually feeling or going through at the time,” says owner Josh Michnik. “We don’t brew beer we wouldn’t drink ourselves and we’re not just doing things because we think it would sell or get attention. We do things because this is us and this translates into everything we do. Events, our front room, our food, our social media, our name and, of course, our beer.”
While the branding may be minimalist, it’s also simultaneously evocative and emotive. And the beer itself reflects that feeling they are trying to communicate.
The approach has certainly struck a chord with Vancouverites, who have voted 33 Acres as their favourite craft brewery in Westender’s Best of the City Dining Awards.
The beers are also intentionally designed to pair well with food, with plenty of offerings available at 33 Acres’ popular tasting room in bustling Brewery Creek. If there’s a common thread among the beers, it is their exceptional balance and “sessionability.”
“I like to play with the classics, but add a unique twist, whether that’s using different hops or a different yeast,” says head brewer Dave Varga.
Case in point, 33 Acres of Darkness, an endlessly crushable schwarzbier that’s light-bodied and refreshing, despite its dark colour.
“I like those kind of surprises, when something is perceived as familiar, but in fact it’s totally different then what was expected.” says Varga. “It’s all intentional.”
Best Craft Beer Selection: Craft Beer Market
It’s hard to argue with the readers of Westender on this one. CRAFT Beer Market in Olympic Village not only has the best craft beer selection in the city, they have more taps then any other establishment in the entire country. 152, to be exact.
Yes, you read that correctly: 152 frickin’ draft taps.
The beer menu at CRAFT spans the globe, covering everything from Belgian Trappist ales to gluten-free ginger beer. And the taps are always rotating, so you’re guaranteed to find something new there.
“We’re constantly testing out new products and seasonals,” says general manager Franny Roberts. “IPAs are still our most popular style, especially hazy IPAs and double IPAs.”
Thanks to the sheer number of taps, CRAFT is able to not only offer classic beers from around the world, but has close to 80 different B.C. beers and ciders on draft as well.
“We try to support local as much as we can,” says Roberts. “Not just with our beer, but with our food, too — we source as much as we can from our community, whether it’s Earnest Ice Cream, Gelderman Farms, Bosa Foods, Golden Ears Cheeseworks.”
CRAFT also supports the community through its Community Brew program, which donates a dollar from every quarterly collaboration beer sold to a local charity. The recent Twin Sails Raspberry Milkshake IPA collab raised more than $3,000 for Dress For Success Vancouver, which helps provide support and training for women in the Downtown Eastside.
CRAFT’s location in the heart of Olympic Village makes it the perfect community hub. The iconic red building it calls home — The former home of the Vancouver Salt Co. — is a LEED certified “green building,” while CRAFT itself is LEAF certified as an environmentally sustainable restaurant, thanks to its composting and recycling efforts.
“Everything we do, we try to support our local community,” says Roberts. “For me, Craft is more than just a restaurant or bar, it’s like your best friend.”
• Make sure to check out Craft’s monthly brewmaster dinners, as well as their New Year’s Eve party. Tickets available at CRAFTBeerMarket.ca.