When you want to visit a bar that offers over 120 different Belgium and craft beers, local cask pourings, a regionally inspired menu of tapas and bistro food, “Biercraft” is my recommendation. As their name suggests they do beer and do things with beer. Beer is their craft. They offer 20 beers on tap and over 100 in bottle. If you can’t decide on what you want you can “choose your own adventure”. 4 beers in tasting size glasses, served in a handsome wood bar. This is the popular option and with it you get more bang for your buck. You try a little of each before you committing. A great way to get someone who is a little set in their ways to try something new. Most exciting is their offering of beer cocktails. Drinks made with beer as a pose to the traditional spirits we are familiar with. The one I tried was their “Frulini”. It is their take on the “Bellini”. But instead of sangria mix and wine, a fruity light beer goes in as your alcohol. In this case it was strawberry. They did a good job in mimicking the colour of a Bellini and the way it goes up a straw and into your mouth with a “mmmmm”.
I have visited both their locations on Commercial and Cambie. Each come with the same list on tap, but where they vary is their decor and their food menu. So different are the two that they are given their own website.
The Commercial location, like its customers has a more casual feel. Simple tables and a well stocked bar. Dim lighting in a space that does not chase you out. You are still welcomed after you have finished a pitcher and are nursing the monkey piss at the bottom of your pilsner.
On the other end is their Cambie location, they classify themselves as a bistro. Here the space is split between a diner layout and a casual dining experience. White table cloths and a flickering candle lights each table. Reusable napkins and heavy weighted cutlery. Here too they seem to be reshaping themselves to align with their customers.
As I mentioned earlier they do food differently. Their menus are slightly different from location to location. Select options are only available at its home restaurant.
Both locations offer complimentary, in house made chips. If you are brazen enough and willing to ignore judgement, you are able to request as many refills of them as you like. Their salty crunch makes a fantastic accompaniment to any beer. At Commercial their chips use smaller yellow potatoes and are prepared in a deep fry. On Cambie their chips seem to be from a larger, more orange potato. It’s taste was also starcher and more rich. These were made in a kettle chip fashion. Kettle chips are prepared in individual batches rather than in a continuous flow machine. This process was only previously used for home cooks to prepare chips in their own kitchens.
Another huge difference in their food is that each restaurant does their own interpretation of each dish. My example is their baked brie. I loved this plate the first time I had it on Commercial. The brie was baked into a crispy phyllo dough, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and paired with a side of sweet chili sauce. This was the perfect blend of taste and textures. Sweet and salty. Then soft and crispy. We literally licked the plate clean. So therefore I was disappointed to discover that my beloved baked Brie was prepared so differently, during my first trip to Cambie. Even the platting was not comparable. Both the presentation and tastes were a lot more refined at this location. The biggest difference was the lack of sweet chili sauce, and the addition of the olive oil, and a thicker more vinegary balsamic. It would have been amazing, had I not tried the other version previously.
“Bocconcini salad at Commercial”. Tomato, fresh mozzarella, basil, balsamic reduction, extra virgin olive oil. Looks as beautiful as something you would find at a fine dining establishment, but for cheap. Great flavours, shame that the tomato was not allowed to ripen and the balsamic was not of a better quality.
“Drunken Mussels” at Commercial. Mussels cooked in Biercraft pilsner, cilantro and lime. When we saw this on the menu we had to try mussels cooked in beer. Beer when cooked down gives food that it is flavoring a sweet earthy taste. Not the best I have had, but not bad either. You can definitely taste the butter in the sauce. Came with a side of bread for dipping. The butter and whole grain bread complimented one another. Would not normally order mussels at a bar, but “Biercraft” classifies themselves as a tapas and that was good enough to sway my decision.
“Mediterranean chicken” on Commercial. Lemon and herb marinated Fraser Valley natural raised chicken breast, cous cous, vegetable ratatouille, and tzatziki.
Another just ok dish. The chicken was dry and lacked any distinctive flavour. I did not get Mediterranean from this dish other than the cous cous and tzatziki, which were the best parts of it.
“Fish tacos” on Cambie. Achiote and citrus marinated cod, cabbage, salsa and crema, chimichurri, and fresh cilantro. Crema is a Mexican fresh cream. And Chimichurri is a sauce used for grilled meat. All these flavours gave each tortilla a Mexican taste with a twist. Unfortunately they arrived soggy and was a mess to pick up. It should not take so much effort to our food into your mouth.
“Seasonal fruit crumble” at Cambie. Candied pecan topping and vanilla bean ice cream. Great taste, but not the best accompaniment to bitter beers. Can’t go wrong with warm fruit and cold ice cream.
Would I go back? Yes to either and both locations. I love trying new foods and drinks; and small plates and beer samplers are the best way to do it.
Would I recommend it? Yes. Each location had a great vibe and so many great selections to choose from, both in their drink and food menu. Where else can you try a mojito made with beer? While enjoying edamame and corn dogs? Truly a place to not deny your cravings, what ever they may be; from Asian to Belgium, to Indian and fushion.
1191 Commercial Drive, Vancouver BC
3305 Cambie St, Vancouver BC
*Sorry for the poor quality photos, the restaurant was dark and I dared not disturb the near by tables with multiple flashes. These photos were poorly edited to appear brighter.