Gladstone Brewing (Courtenay, BC)

Gladstone Brewing is one of the Comox Valley’s most beloved institutions. It’s the flagship brewery of the North Vancouver Island craft brewing scene and it’s an absolute blotch upon EDB’s already sketchy reputation that we’ve only just got around to discussing them. For shame!

I’m definitely familiar with the brewery’s work. In fact I’ve drank quite a bit more of Gladstone’s beer at various local restaurants than I have almost any other local brewery. I’ll also admit to frittering away more than a few afternoons at the brewery proper, debating proper pizza dough thickness with Chef Matt while quaffing some seriously tasty craft beer. (more…)

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Norwoods Restaurant (Ucluelet, BC)

A decade ago, going to the Pacific Rim for a Summer trip was a relatively simple affair. The most daunting part was navigating the winding, single-lane roller coaster of a road across the island. Once you and your family had arrived it was a simple matter of finding some parking at Big Beach and figuring out which gas station in Tofino had the best ice cream.

Now vacationing along the Pacific Rim is a vastly more complicated affair: The road is still shit, but instead of fearing the local yahoo’s pickup truck swerving into you it’s the endless parade of tourists ineptly driving monolithic motor homes or luxury sedans that keep your knuckles white. The vast expanse of beaches are choked with people and downtown Tofino is like the sweltering crush of Robson Street in Van compressed into four square blocks… Good luck finding any ice cream amongst the Patagonia vendors and gourmet Ramen joints. (more…)

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Forbidden Brewing Co. (Courtenay, BC)

The Vancouver Island brewing scene is evolving at such a breakneck pace that every month or so I have to take a breath, go online or crack open a copy of The Growler and catch up on all the new trends, breweries, beer styles and lingo that I’m already ignorant of. Case in point: The term “Nano brewery” is the handle for a new crop of breweries that (according to this killer Paste article) “makes very, very little beer (say, between one and three barrels, or roughly ninety gallons at a time and boasts an ultra-limited distribution footprint.

This fits Courtney’s Forbidden Brewing perfectly. It’s ity-bity! There’s just enough room inside their tasting room for six tables plus a pool table (watch your back!) and a bitchin tabletop Space Invaders game machine. Despite these physical limitations the Forbidden crew make the absolute most of everything their situation can accommodate.

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Beachfire Brewing and Nosh House

beachfire-1It’s been little over a year since all the rumours about a CR brewery were confirmed and the buzz amongst local food ‘n beer nerds began. The survey followed quickly after and the anticipation grew, then came the zoning meetings and it grew a bit more. By late spring we were a frenzied mob! Our Lucky-lovin burg was getting into the craft brew scene, just like the big boys… Then it was quiet all summer long.

Boom, clang! Like a ninja the Beachfire Brewery and Nosh House appeared and opened for business seemingly overnight without me or many of my fellow industry folks noticing. Its beer time kids! I hopped on my bike after an early admin day and beelined to a block of downtown I haven’t visited in years.

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Howe Sound Brewpub (Squamish, BC)

howe-sound-brewery-1Squamish (or “Squampton” depending on where your allegiances lie) is a small burg nestled in the peaks between metropolitan Vancouver and the bacchanalian circus that is Whistler. It’s one of the most jaw-droppingly beautiful places in BC that you can easily visit by car (half an hour from the Horseshoe Bay Ferry!) and if you happen to love outdoorsy stuff like my wife and I do it’s a must-visit destination… Except… Well… It’s kind of at war.

Y’see it’s still a small town, just enough industry to keep it going during the winter and enough summer kids hanging around to run the store while all the tourists pile in. Problem is we’re not talking a handful of tourists here. When a sizable portion of metro Vancouver decides to holiday in Whistler, they’re all driving up the same highway at the same time to get there. And they’re all having lunch in Squamish.

During our entire five day long stay in Squamish we witnessed cooks, servers and baristas battling some of the most outrageous lineups of entitled people we’ve seen since… Well, Whistler *laughs* But Whistler’s veteran hospitality army can handle ‘em… Squamish just couldn’t seem to hold the line. Nearly everywhere there were long waits for food, dirty tables and panicked bussers, fuming customers and thousand yard stares from beyond the pass. Our sushi restaurant even ran out of rice!

But I said “nearly” everyone didn’t I? Yes! One shining beacon of hospitality stood out amidst the cloud of war. It’s the biggest, baddest, jam-packed fullest joint in town. The number one recommendation for dinner and post-MTB drinks we got from everyone. Squampton’s Generalissimo in the war of hospitality: The Howe Sound Brewpub.

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