Friday, March 30, 2012

#178. Canons' Gait, 232 Canongate, Edinburgh

Given how cute it is from the outside, and its location on the Mile, I was surprised by how strangely forgettable this bar is. But it did have a good beer selection. I found a new microbrew: an Elemental Porter from the Tempest Brewing Company of Kelso.

#177. White Horse, 266 Canongate, Edinburgh

Towards the quiet end of the Mile as you slip downhill towards Holyrood is this pleasant and charming pub.

I found a quiet spot in the back. A table full of academics sat next to me and I was able to overhear their conversations regarding post-humanism and discourse analysis.

The beer selection was minimal, but they did have Caledonian 80/-. And it's dog friendly!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

#176. Bannerman's Bar, 212 Cowgate, Edinburgh

Sometimes I am in the right mood to be charmed by a pub, and today I fell victim to the charms of Bannerman's. We've been watching Game of Thrones recently, where a Bannerman is the name of the soldiers that rallied to defend the North. But there is nothing Fantasy about this pub; just straight-ahead rock and roll and unpretentious good times. I drank a delicious Broughton Clipper IPA, their nominee in the "30 Days of IPA" festival taking place during the month of April.

The Irish bar manager was very friendly, and happily showed me around the place. She was particularly proud of their live music area, which is built under South Bridge right amidst the the historic and spooky vaults of Edinburgh's Old Town.

If you walk by on Cowgate you can hear the music through the ventilation shafts that empty onto the street.

Monday, March 26, 2012

#175. Jinglin' Geordie, 22 Fleshmarket Close, Edinburgh

Why isn't Fleshmarket Close the official red light district of Edinburgh? A Geordie, by the way, is a person from Newcastle. Don't ask me why.

That round dude at the bar with his back to me kept asking to hear the Paul Weller song Broken Stones. I sat quietly drinking my Caledonian 2.8, reading a book on music copyright law that I had just bought at Blackwell's.

Speaking of Paul Weller, who I have complained about previously, it amazes me how certain artists are revered in their home country, but ignored everywhere else in the Western world. Why do the Brits love this guy, anyway? (And parenthetically, why do Canadians love Gord Downie so much?) Is it because he reminds them of their surly best friend who bullied them when they were growing up? Do they think that they can fix that relationship by wedding themselves to his career? I mean, listen to that song... why on Earth would that guy at the bar give two shits about that mediocre dirge, anyway? Paul Weller seems so contrived and self-conscious (particularly in the Band Aid video, especially at the 3:09 mark where with a single arched eyebrow he manages to ooze disinterest, discomfort, and disdain) that I almost feel sorry for him. In my forthcoming book It's Just Not That Awesome (Thought Pilots, 2013), there will be a chapter devoted to Paul Weller and his various projects.

#174. Scotsman's Lounge, 73 Cockburn St, Edinburgh

Another pub with a minimal beer selection. I settled for the McEwans 70/-. A tourist from Holland sat next to me and drank a Tennents. He noted sarcastically that this must be the busiest pub in Edinburgh.

The bartender (pictured above) was a tough looking rocker chick who told the old guy at the bar that she wasn't interested in his trivia about the bands playing on the jukebox because she didn't give a shit about them and they didn't give a shit about her. However she did keep plugging the jukebox with coins and taking care with her musical selections (All the Young Dudes was a pleasant surprise), so she must give a shit about the music at least.

#173. Fiddlers Arms, 11 Grassmarket, Edinburgh

The beer selection was minimal, and I tried a Tennents Ember, an 80-shilling bitter I don't think I'd ever seen before. I actually didn't mind it at all. It went down smooth on this beautiful and warm spring day.

Friday, March 23, 2012

#172. Malt Shovel, 15 Cockburn St, Edinburgh

I'm back in Auld Reekie, and time for a quick pint on a Friday afternoon at the Malt Shovel, one of the pubs that is particularly popular with the tourists.

I didn't want to get too tipsy, so I had a Kelburn Pivo Estivo, which at only 3.9% abv is a light, refreshing ale. Another winner from this quite decent Scottish brewery.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

#171. Beacon Landing, 2537 Beacon Ave, Sidney

I love my cousin Dean. Here he is drinking a Vancouver Islander Lager from the one and only Vancouver Island Brewery. I had the nearly famous Driftwood Fat Tug IPA. It is a real shame that the wonderful craft beers of British Columbia are unknown and unavailable in the United Kingdom. But I can understand why.

Dean was also in town to visit his parents, and it was nice to have him make a special guest appearance on my blog. I first tried to take him to the Stonehouse Pub out by the ferry terminal, but it was closed for some reason despite what its website says.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

#170. Ross Bay Pub, 1516 Fairfield Rd, Victoria

That's right... St. Patrick's Day. Woohoo. Time for green beer.

That's a green Harp Lager (brewed by Guinness) and my buddy Rasool.

While there weren't exactly thousands of people in the pub, it was pretty hopping for the time of day. The Ross Bay must be given credit for surviving its location in what has to be the worst and busiest parking lot in all of Victoria.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

#169. Six Mile, 494 Old Island Highway, Victoria

Upon entering, the Six Mile proudly announces it was opened in 1855. In the UK, that is equivalent to a week ago last Thursday, but in British Columbia, that means the Six Mile is officially the oldest pub in all of the province.

I enjoyed a beer with my old buddy Dale, and we chatted about whether Schneider should start ahead of Luongo, and the merits of Van Halen without Michael Anthony on bass.

I can't remember for the life of me what I drank, but it looks like an amber ale, perhaps a Pipers Pale Ale from Vancouver Island.

#168. Canoe Brewpub, 450 Swift St, Victoria

I was hung over from the previous night's Capital City Pub Crawl, so instead of having one of the many fine Canoe beers made onsite at this brew pub, I settled for several cups of strong coffee and an order of greasy french fries.

Sean Hoyne, former brewmaster at Canoe, has recently gone out on his own to form Hoyne Brewing Company. If you have been a fan of the beer served at this establishment, keep an eye out for Sean's beers at a store/pub near you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

#167. Swans, 506 Pandora Ave, Victoria

How cool is it that one of my alma maters, the University of Victoria, owns a brew pub? Swans is terrific, with an amazing collection of Canadian art. And they make some of my favourite beers. But the best thing about them is that it was 1:42 AM and they still hadn't made a move to kick us out.

I took the following picture from the sidewalk as my taxi pulled up to take me home. 10 hours and 42 minutes after it began, the first ever 365 Pubs in 365 Days Capital City Pub Crawl had come to an end.

Special thanks to my die-hard buddies who were with me at the end: Dave, Dugas, Crystal, Steph, and Joel. Steph bought us two jugs of Swans Pandora Pale Ale, while I regaled with stories of Bjork and Sarah.

Thanks to everyone who participated and made my unexpected mid-year homecoming a memorable adventure.

#166. Garrick's Head, 1140 Government St, Victoria

The official pub of Backstage Technologies back when I was CEO, the Garrick's Head is definitely one of my favourite pubs in Victoria.

I drank a Stanley Park 1897 Amber Ale. Somehow -- and with great pleasure -- I managed to pick up the entire tab for our group, which by now was at or near 20 people in total. Special thanks to Twyla for looking after us so well. I'm surprised we didn't see Kim and Ruby at the bar...?

#165. Irish Times, 1200 Government St, Victoria

By now we had added Joel & Steph and Nicole & Ryan to our roster of Capital City Crawlers. A short hop down Government to Bastion Square and the venerable Irish Times.

I don't know anyone in that photo. I was just trying to get a good picture of the interior.

I violated our local beer only rule and ordered an Innis & Gunn, the most popular Scottish beer in Canada. I was doing fine until I drank a pint of that panty remover. It's on tap in more places in Victoria than I've managed to find in all of Edinburgh.

#164. Bard & Banker, 1022 Government St, Victoria

This is a Scottish themed pub, as the Bard would be Robbie Burns, and the Banker would be any of the RBS clones in Edinburgh. The waitresses wear kilts. However, one of this pub's chandeliers alone would break the decorating budget of any pub along Rose Street. They are trying so hard to be authentic and eclectic, but from the moment you are greeted by the unnecessary hostess, it feels contrived and fails miserably. The resulting vibe is more like your rich, uptight grandmother's Oak Bay mansion, and I felt like a child afraid I was going to break something.

On the positive, the beer selection is excellent. I drank a Driftwood White Bark Ale. I gave Ellen my orange.

#163. Smiths, 777 Courtenay St, Victoria

Steve couldn't wait to get inside!

I drank a Race Rocks Ale from local legends Lighthouse Brewing Company.

Michael and Yvonne were waiting for us at the bar. Greg joined us there, too. It was officially a crawl!

Hey, on a totally unrelated note, I couldn't help but notice that our BC Hydro smart meter was installed while we have been away living in Edinburgh. And guess what else I couldn't help but notice...? Nothing horrible happened!

#162. Fernwood Inn, 1302 Gladstone Ave, Victoria

This pub was our local when we lived across the street on Fernwood Road. The food is excellent, and the beer selection is very good.

Brian and I drank a Longboat Chocolate Porter, my favourite Phillips beer. Steve (who took this photo) continued to be loyal to Driftwood with his beer selection. We decided that we should only be drinking local microbreweries on this crawl.

#161. Penny Farthing, 2228 Oak Bay Ave, Victoria

This seamless pub took forever to get approval from the municipality of Oak Bay, who doubtless feared it would lower the tone. When it first opened it wasn't allowed to have televisions, billiard tables, or laughter.

The first of three pubs owned by the VicPubCo that we would visit this day.

Brian and I both ordered a Service 1904 Scotch Ale. Like most Phillips beers, it tasted okay, but excelled at marketing itself.

#160. Christie's Carriage House, 1739 Fort St, Victoria

Christies was the starting point of the Capital City Pub Crawl: an ambitious attempt to hit eight of my favourite Victoria pubs in one day. It started out innocuously enough at 3:00PM with Steve and Brian and a Back Hand of God Stout from Crannog Ales, who brew certified organic Irish session ales on a sustainable organic farm in Sorrento.

Christies has been my local since we moved to Carrick Street in 2009. Their beer selection is fantastic. We are out on the patio originally built to get around the no smoking bylaws. Remember when all the pubs in BC told us they were going to go out of business if the government banned smoking in their interiors? Keep that in mind next time you hear some lobbying from the BC Food and Restaurant Association.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

#159. The Prairie Inn, 7806 E. Saanich Rd, Saanichton

This pub dates back to 1859, and was a popular stop on the old rail line that ran from Victoria to Sidney. I lived a stone's throw from here for many years.

I got to enjoy one of my favourite beers: a Lions Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewing. I love that hint of vanilla! And I also got to enjoy more losing at BC Keno.

I heard a nasty rumour that Granville Island - Canada's first microbrewery - had sold out to Molson Coors. Turns out to be true.

These three dudes were having the most demoralizing conversation. Whereas in Edinburgh I have met some extremely educated, charming, and eloquent people at the pubs, this is what you get at the Prairie Inn - cackling about "fuckin' crispy bacon eh in a fuckin' lattice work and then fuckin' cheese and some fuckin' potatahs and I just about fuckin' shit myself". Later I heard them discussing the pros and cons of pay toilets in European rail stations, and would you rather give a woman an organic facial garnish or take a really good dump.

While the patrons may not always be charming, I think this pub certainly is, if only for the sake of nostalgia.

#158. Bleue Coyote, 7100 W. Saanich Rd, Brentwood Bay

Another pub with an outrageously big parking lot, I have a bit of a soft spot for the Bleue Coyote. Situated at the corner of West Saanich and Wallace, I drove by its location hundreds of times during my youth.

I drank a Driftwood Ale. An excellent local beer, Driftwood has picked up a lot of momentum lately owing to the popularity of its Fat Tug IPA (also featured on the menu here).

Keno! Shitty Budweiser! The Canucks!

Friday, March 9, 2012

#157. Characters, 8559 Young Rd, Chilliwack

This place is just oozing with character. Check it out.

North America has a love-affair with the parking lot. Given that drinking and driving is against the law, it makes me wonder why the pubs are required by law to have so many parking spaces.

I can't believe I'm in Chilliwack. This pub used to be a Smitty's House of Pancakes when I was a kid. Today it features only Molson Coors crap taps, with Rickard's Dark -- an English style porter brewed with a hint of maple syrup -- being the only decent beverage in the lineup.

I have a big forehead, don't I? Ridiculously big.