Thursday, December 2, 2010

Granville Island's venerable institution

I had been in Granville Island Brewing a time or two before, but never realized that it has been around since 1984.  That makes it the oldest microbrewery in B.C., in all of Canada, according to their website.  1984 dates back to Bert Grant's original micro in Yakima. And this place is still going strong.
   If anyone hasn't been there, Granville Island is one of Vancouver's cool spots.  A cement plant operates in the middle of the place, and the Emily Carr Art Institute is next to the cement plant. The area is full of artsy shops, restaurants, a produce market, waterfront stuff, theaters, etc. It all sits on a few acres of land under the Granville Street Bridge, a soaring span that takes connects the downtown to the south side of town. The brewery is right under the bridge.
   Inside, Lisa, the server, offered me small samples of several of the more sweetly flavored brews: Kitsilano Maple Cream Ale (maple syrup), the Chocolate Stout, and the Lions Winter Ale (white chocolate).  She poured each into the bottom of a 4-ounce flight. Yes, four ounces.  Canada is relentlessly metric in everything else, but in the pub they still do pints and ounces.  As I recall, Britain only went metric in the 60s on the condition that the pint of bitter in the pub would remain a pint and not xxx ml. Beer lovers flexing political muscle!  I chose the Winter Ale, excellent taste, more vanilla with the white chocky playing harmony.
  If I understood Lisa rightly, she said they can sell a customer no more than three flights or one pint a day, either by law or by a condition of their license.  It is a quirky license to be sure. The store section sells their own brews, bottled in 341 ml (12 oz) and 650 ml (22 oz) sizes, and the usual assortment of t-shirts, caps, etc.
They also sell wines, a few Canadian labels, but that's all for other beverages.  The store clerk explained that their license allows them to sell only alcohol beverages produced by wineries under common ownership with the brewery.  Except for the Okanagun wine, which used to be under common ownership with Granville, no longer is, but stays in under a grandfather clause. Other B.C. brewpubs,. like Mission Ridge (see Nov. post) or Central City in Surrey, have full fledged package stores, selling vodka, scotch, Gallo wines and everything under the sun.  Different license.
    The brewing equipment is visible behind a glass wall.  When I was there, the brewer was filling tall bottles by hand.
After my pint, I walked a block to where you catch a #50 bus back to downtown.
(Visited 11/30/10)

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