1601 Main Street, Vancouver

Pub #2: Big Rock Urban Brewery & Eatery

Last week, I visited Tap & Barrel. This week: Big Rock Urban Brewery & Eatery.
This is one super-convenient, craft beer bar. When you’re fleeing downtown and crossing the Cambie Bridge, it’s the first bar you’ll hit before, well, anything.

I work in Douche Canyon (Yaletown). So at quitting time, it’s comforting to know that in just 4 minutes I can escape bumper to bumper Maseratis & BMWs, French Bulldog poop, and eyelash technicians on smoke breaks, and belly up to the Big Rock bar.

Big Rock’s strategically located at 310 West 4th at Alberta. It’s on an industrial block that’s ‘up-and-coming’ like, say, the Edmonton Oilers or a Scottish beach (it’s ok, I’m half Scottish). Plus it’s welcoming and convenient. There are an impressive 20+ free parking spots, a bike rack (yay), even an electric vehicle charging station.

Better yet, Big Rock is the closest bar to the police station on Cambie (270 meters, 4 minute walk). So when they spring you from the slammer, you can pound a quick pitcher before you go mooch off your old lady.

My buddy Sweet Lew and I met here for beers on a scorching hot summer afternoon. Sweet Lew’s an actor who, like me, comes from good Irish stock. So this may surprise you but we like to drink. His first beer was a tropical-esque Citradelic Single Hop IPA, while I played it safe with a Honey Brown Lager.

We clinked our mugs and toasted “our rugged good looks!” Sweet Lew said his tasted “like courage mixed with prolonged eye contact.” Then we did a little walkabout. Big Rock’s like an L-shaped barn that’s divided into 4 sections:

1. The retail store offers off-sales, growler fills, and tasting taps.
2. There’s a brick-walled restaurant with chandeliers and long shared tables.
3. Beyond the restaurant, the lounge serves beer, wine, and cocktails. You can peek into the brewer/scientist’s room. Plus the back wall is a bank of floor-to-ceiling glass windows. So you can perch at the bar and gaze into…
4. The brewery and its huge steel beer tanks.

The Urban Eatery menu offers solid, straightforward pub food (lots of burgers and pizzas), plus some standout additions like Asian Kimchi with aged cheddar ($7), Sing-Sing Jerky ($5), Steak Frites with anchovy butter ($17), and, for dessert, Fiasco Smores with chocolate stout gelato ($7). I didn’t eat everything (I’m just one man) but I liked the piping hot BBQ chicken pizza ($13). Soaked my beer up nicely. Oh, and you can order takeout on 20 minutes notice.

Our tattooed server was cool. We asked her when the joint got jumping.

“Come back Friday and Saturday nights, it’ll be packed with drunk women,” she growled.

They take group bookings so you can reward your staff by bringing them here on a Friday afternoon. And if conversation gets stale, well, there’s a live band! Big Rock offers live music 7 nights a week—and I don’t just mean the hobo blowing on his growler jug out back.

Second drink for Sweet Lew was the Rhine Stone Cowboy Kölsch Ale, a ‘delicate, well matured ale’ that made his freckled tummy happy. I opted for Fowl Mouth ESB, a spicy brew with notes of blackcurrant, citrus, and dank, ticklish, hipster whiskers. Mmmm. Prices are great. Pints are $6, sleeves are $4, and during Happy Hour (from 3 to 6 p.m), sleeves are just $3…and that’s EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK.

We had third beers, too, but were having so much fun, I can’t remember what they were. I was so happy, I decided to take my shirt off, spin around, and fall asleep. Meanwhile, Sweet Lew strutted off to make a myriad of bad choices.

Bottom line: Big Rock Urban Brewery has a great thing going on here. It’s a beer-first-and-foremost establishment with knowledgeable staff who love beer and don’t mind sharing their wisdom. They also had the good grace to let two Irish(ish) men enjoy their drinks without constant annoying interruptions. They simply served us up, kept us lit, and otherwise stayed out of our way. That’s a real art.

If you’re seeking a microbrewery with a pulse, this is a great stop on your South East False Creek bar crawl. If anyone actually lived on this block, it’d be a helluva local. Plus the free parking lot’s a great place to sleep off a bender (I’m kidding, please don’t drink and park).

Big Rock Urban Brewery
310 West 4th Avenue,
Vancouver, BC V5Y 1G9
604.708.8311  |  bigrockurban.com

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Ken Hegan
Ace Writer / Billionaire Playboy