1601 Main Street, Vancouver

PUB #1: TAP & BARREL

By Ken Hegan
I’ve been recruited to tour 5 of the great dining & drinking establishments in South East False Creek.

My mission: meet Dubh Linn Gate’s neighbours, chug their mead, and report back here. Sweet gig. I’m part Irish, so I’m part beer. But I’m half Scottish, too, so I’m thrilled to quaff on someone else’s dime (thanks DLG).

First pub on my tour: Tap & Barrel

Tap & Barrel has 2 locations in Vancouver with a third one opening in North Van that’ll have 730 seats. The one nearest me is in Olympic Village. First opened in 2012, it sits on prime real estate at the corner of Fit Yuppie Couple Street + Bearded Rich Kid Playing Grand Theft Auto in His Lonely Condo Lane.

Built right on the seawall (and former bleak industrial wasteland), it’s a 2-story urban gastro pub with a wraparound upper deck and an open, ground-floor patio. It’s a great spot for lululemon-clad millennials and Baby Boomer tourists draped in floral Tommy Bahama shirts to sip their chardonnays, high-five passing joggers, and fend off the occasional shirtless, screaming hobo.

My buddy Luc met me here for beers on a hot summer eve. Our Bentleys are in the shop, so we biked down. T&B has 2 big bike racks, which lots of pubs wouldn’t bother with. Nice touch. Good thing, too, cuz parking’s a challenge in The Village [it’s such a new, made-up neighbourhood, can we even call it The Village yet? Maybe ‘O Town’? O’Ville? OV? The Big O? Submit your better names here.]

We scampered up to the 2nd floor to check out its wicked view of False Creek and the North Shore mountains. But the wraparound deck was packed with blushing couples on awkward Tinder dates. So we bellied up to the bar.

And what a bar. Tap & Barrel has a really solid bar—it’s made from wood so heavy, you can pound your fists on it, Viking-style, as you shout your goals and map out your plans for world domination. We sure did.

“The bar’s 4 inches of thick new maple wood,” says T&B owner, Daniel Frankel. “We build our bars earthquake proof. I call ‘em bulletproof.”

Bang your fist on the bar and demand cocktails in mason jars (Happy Hour cocktails are just $4), or one of their fine beers and wines. Tap & Barrel boasts 24 craft beer taps and 14 kegs of wine—and, impressively, they’re all from BC. You can drink from wineries like Blasted Church, Hester Creek, and Face It: Your Date’s Not Coming (okay, I made up that last one, inspired by a weeping young woman at the end of the bar). And this is a refreshing first: if you’re open to new tastes or are wildly indecisive, you can order wine by the flight.

Beers range in cost from $7 to $8 for a 20-oz glass that’s bigger than a baby. Their beer taps are organized by categories: Summer Selection, The Lighter Side, Middle of the Pack, The Big Brews, and The Darker Side.

Come summer months, I usually drink lighter beers in case I have to run from the cops. So I drank the Red Truck Lager, Postmark Blonde, and Parallel 49’s Jerkface 9000 North West Wheat Ale. On colder days, you can fill your gullet with Old Yale’s Sasquatch Stout or Crannóg’s Back Hand of God Stout, which I bet contains 40% alcohol, 35% roofing tar, and 25% baby laxative, just to really thicken the brew.

Decent menu, too. Just like their beer and wine, their dishes are made from locally-sourced ingredients. Lots of burgers, but you can also eat offbeat items like Pulled Bacon Poutine, Southern Fried Oyster Po’ Boy, fried pickles, or Pork Belly & Soft Egg Pizza (which sounds like a really delicious accident).

In short: I like Tap & Barrel. The bartenders keep you well fed and lubricated, then they hang well back so you and your friends can brainstorm how you’ll take over the world.

Sure, T&B is shiny, new, and pretty. Yes, they’ll play Coldplay when you’re just trying to enjoy the urinal. And no, they don’t have massive TV screens, which I think is a big plus...makes you feel like you're in a Manhattan bar where everyone has to make eye contact, occasionally, and actually meet good people instead of staring past them.

But if you’re seeking a room with a killer view that supports BC vintners and brewers, Tap & Barrel’s a fine local. A great stop for sunset toasts or your first port of call on your uphill South East False Creek bar crawl.

Tap & Barrel
1 Athletes Way, Vancouver, BC
604.685.2223, tapandbarrel.com

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Ken Hegan
Ace Writer / Billionaire Playboy