Continuing the theme of craft beer, just this past week a new craft beer restaurant has officially opened its door in the Olympic Village — CRAFT Beer Market. I know, what a fitting name. This chain restaurant started out in Alberta with two locations in Calgary and Edmonton; this is the 3rd location.
The restaurant prides itself for having more than 100 kinds of craft beer on tap, and only on tap, including local BC craft beer and imports from the U.S. and beyond. Just before its grand opening day, I invited Bryan to join me at their sneak preview event to check out the space.
In addition to the two free beers we received, we also tried a few menu items:
- Hawaiian Ahi Poke
- Crab cake slider
- Coconut Curry Steamed Mussels
- Miso Marinated Tuna
- Prosciutto Arugula Flatbread
Overall I thought the food quality was pretty good, which would be beneficial because they don’t necessarily want to be just the beer place (a food primary needs to sell its food too). In particular, I quite liked the Ahi Poke and Steamed Mussels. The Hawaiian Ahi Poke uses sashimi-grade Ahi tuna so the fish had a nice, firm texture, and went well with the sesame-soy sauce based. I liked that the tuna and cucumbers were cubed to similar size, which showed the attention to detail. The wonton wrappers were fried to golden colour, crispy yet not too greasy, but they were a bit too weak to be used as tortilla chips to pick up the tuna and cucumber cubes.
I’m a sucker for Moules Frites, so when mussels are on the menu quite likely I would want to give it a try. Their Coconut Curry Steamed Mussels use Salt Spring mussels, which are always plump and juicy and soak in all the goodness from the broth. This broth had a very subtle hint of curry flavour. If only this would come with some fries or even bread for dipping, it would be great!
While we could get stuffed with the free appies, we did take advantage of the wing special. We ordered the Canadian Wings, which were tossed in a bacon and maple sauce. The wings were nice and fresh, although rather small in size. I did like the sweet and salty combination in bacon and maple syrup (I mean, who doesn’t?!). I wish there’s more of the sauce so it got all messy and finger-licking good (ooops)! They have a beer salt & pepper flavour, and I’d be curious to try it next time.
In terms of beer, there’s really no shortage of beer options, but the beers are more on the pricey side. If you are not sure what to order, you can actually order a tiny taster of any kind of beer to sample, or you can get the 10oz (~0.3L) option instead of the regular 0.4L or 0.5L pour. Another thing to note is its beer flight. Every week they feature two beer flights, one of local brews, and one “around the world”. Unfortunately they don’t allow you to choose your own beer, but this at least gives you some ideas of what to drink. Beer flights are $10.95 for six 4oz pour, which I think is a decent deal.
So what did Bryan our beer guy think?
I am disappointed that you can’t choose your own flights, but it’s good that they would rotate them weekly to provide variety. Its nice, big list of beer selections certainly has something to please everyone, including some non-craft beer like Bud Light, Pabst Blue Ribbon, Stella Artois, Keith’s, etc. There’s some gems in their selection for sure so it’s definitely worth checking out, and the 13 rotating taps will provide some additional variety.
A+ for glassware! They actually make sure they’re putting the beers in the right glass for the style. They even use the super legit Dogfish Head/Sierra Nevada/Spiegelau IPA glass. So that’s good, I like that sort of attention to detail.
Bryan had three beers that evening and this is how he rated them on Untappd:
- Bam Biere by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (US): 4/5
- Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock by Brauerei Aying (Germany): 4.5/5
- Black Butte Porter by Deschutes Brewery (US): 4/5
All in all, I think CRAFT makes a great addition to Vancouver, especially for all the craft beer enthusiasts in the Lower Mainland. I would certainly go back from time to time for some interesting craft beer, and would also go back for the food, too.
Here are some more pictures from the evening:
CRAFT Beer Market
85 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver