1601 Main Street, Vancouver

Pub #6: You Guessed It, Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub

What a pub crawl. I’ve seen monkeys fighting cobras, dancing girls, a bulletproof Viking bar, saloon-style bathroom doors, and drank beer so strong it was like a Vladimir Putin judo chop to the neck. Now I’ve crawled to my final stop: Dubh Linn Gate’s excellent new Irish pub in Vancouver’s South East False Creek.

Located a mere 7,156 kilometers from Dublin, Ireland, it’s also just a few staggering steps from McDonald’s, Science World, and the Main & Terminal SkyTrain, and right next door to the Canada Border Services Agency (who are hiring, by the way, and you get to swing a gun around). It’s also close to the Seawall, Vancouver’s Brewery District, and thirsty folks who live in fancy condos upstairs.

Don’t have a dining room in your tiny bachelor suite with your billion-dollar mountain view? No problem. Pop downstairs to Dubh Linn Gate for brunch or a 20oz. pint of craft beer, watch the Rugby World Cup, then if you get a wee bit legless, ask someone to piggyback you up to your bed.

Yep, Dubh Linn Gate found a nice new neighbourhood to hang their Irish tweed hat. Wasn’t always that way. For decades before the Olympic boom, it was dodgy and Mad Max-y down here. You’d either see tumbleweeds blowing by or people robbing the tumbleweeds at knifepoint. But now this seaside neighbourhood is safe and sociable at night, thanks to welcoming patios at Tap & Barrel, Craft, Steel Toad brewery, and Dubh Linn Gate (they’ll soon have 2 patios; one on Main and a back patio overlooking Science World and BC Place).

I entered the pub on a warm Thursday night—and sadly had to drink alone. My buddy was supposed to come but his unstable ex-wife suddenly vanished with their kids and (uh-oh) she took the kids’ passports. So he had to call the cops and didn’t want to do it from a crowded bar. Good decision.

Dubh Linn Gate was packed with locals, the hearty after work film/TV crowd, and merrymakers from every country in the world. It was like the United Nations in there, if the UN had a long dark wood bar, 24 beers on tap, a thousand Irish knick-knacks, and a guitar slinger (Nick Farrer) singing bouncy Waterboys drinkin’ songs that’ll make you so happy, you’ll dance around like a fiend, pull your sweaty shirt off, swing it around, order shots for everyone, and then marry a stranger.

Some cheery Norwegian drunks kept yelling for Nick to play “Mee Yawn, Mee Yawn!” Turns out they were trying to say ‘Neil Young’. So Nick sang us a rendition of Harvest Moon that was so lovely, it made the Irish server well up with tears (granted, that’s easy since ‘Weeping’ is Ireland’s national sport).

My first drink was a locally-brewed Parallel 49 craft lager. A clean, crisp, refreshing finish to the best summer in Vancouver history.

I ran into friends who work in TV nearby, and asked what they thought of the new pub.

“It’s great! We’re so glad to have an Irish local,” Cheryl said. “We’re tired of the usual places. We just want a Guinness and pot pie!”

Great menu here—head chef Victor Pulleybank sharpened his craft at Araxi, Blue Water Cafe, Chambar, and West. There’s Steak & Guinness Pie ($16), Fraser Valley Pork Belly ($20), and Warm Chocolate Whiskey Cake stuffed with truffle ($9). I devoured his spicy Lamb Curry meatballs (incredible, $21) and used the naan as a napkin (I’m half Scottish and hate to waste paper).

Out of respect for my Scotswoman mother, I normally drink peaty Islay scotch that’s so strong my uncle Hector boasts “you can taste the goose shite in it.” It’s the same powerful island elixir that my Irish pal Jimmy dismisses as “that foul Protestant whiskey.” But this time, I was in an Irish pub. So out of respect for my Dad’s Irish father, I tried a dram of Irish whiskey called Writers Tears (contains 40% alcohol and 60% jealousy at rival writers’ successes). With notes of vanilla and caramel, Writers Tears tastes sweeter and smoother than Hawaiian Tropic on my girlfriend’s neck in the warm Mexican sun.

Warning: Dubh Linn Gate’s got 25 whiskeys to choose from—more whiskeys than your gramma can shake a broom at when your grampa comes home drunk again. Fortunately, the barkeep helped me pick. Seeing me enjoying the Writers Tears, he invited me to try their Malt of the Month.

“It’s Redbreast 12-year-old,” he said. “Extremely rare whiskey in Canada. And we’ve got 60% of the BC supply.”

I ordered a double and it coated my mouth with delicious smoothness. A multiple award winner, Redbreast’s the best drink on my entire pub crawl, and that’s saying something.

Then two hilarious Irishmen sat beside me. Simon and Mick are best friends in their 60s whose bushy white eyebrows and ear tufts made ‘em look like fuzzy mountain goats. I ask a lot of questions when I drink, so I found out that Simon and Mick like to go on exotic holidays together. For the next hour, they regaled me with stories of their adventures in Egypt, Cambodia, and Singapore.

But travelling’s just one of their many, many hobbies. They also love re-enacting classic battles and using mosaic tiles to create giant dragon murals that cover their houses’ steps, walls, and yards.

As I hoped he would, Simon leaned real close so he could tell me The Secret of Life.

“Here’s the thing, son... a man is nothing if he has no hobbies,” he said. “You can waste your entire life watching sitcoms. Or... you can use your spare time to see the world and create beautiful things. That’s when it gets interesting. When a life of passion becomes a life of purpose. And if you do it right, your hobby becomes your profession. Like this pub, for example. Bet this place started as a hobby.”

He nodded at the happy staff—especially a guy in his early 70s who turned out to be one of Dubh Linn Gate’s owners. He was grinning and chatting up the crowd. And Simon was right: you could see the passion in the owner’s face. The man’s hobbies—sharing great food, drinks, music, and stories—have become his profession…and created this fine new Irish embassy.

Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub Vancouver
1601 Main Street,
Vancouver, BC, V6A 2W5

Open Daily from 11am

Special opens for all 8am and later Rugby World Cup 2015 Matches.