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CRAFT Beer Market English Bay

I have recently visited the 3rd location of Craft Beer Market and despite my awe of the place and the space the experience was not as glowing . We came on a busy night, where our reservation wasn’t recorded, and the front of house staff did what they could to seat us immediately at the seasonally covered roof top patio for dinner.

The result was a nice enough evening, but a lack lustre meal. Therefore, I knew I wanted to return sooner than later for a more accurate account of the experience, dining in at Craft Beer Market English Bay.

This time around I made sure to reserve what I felt were the best seats on the patio, and probably the entire 2 story restaurant spread out across 3-4 rooms. This was a handful of wooden beach chairs set at a recline, circling a propane fire bowl.

The way they were angled they were either overlooking the rest of the patio behind a handsome VW wagon in seafoam and white. Or the beach at the distance behind a thick sheet of weatherproof plastic. I can only image how coveted this spot is during patio season, day or night. With the views, the ability to lounge and linger, and the steady flow of accessible beer, Craft is definitely a hot spot.

Although, let it be known, eating a full meal on these seats can be a challenge. The arm rests do allow for the resting of larger plates, but the height of them in relation to your face, and the fact that the seats are set at a deep decline is a determent. But I was stubborn so made it work, as the thought of having flames in the background of my photos was too appealing to miss out on.

As they are advertised as a Beer Market, we had to start with a round of drinks. Not just beers on tap, but something more specific onto Craft.

The best way to sample the wares before you commit is to order a flight. Whereas the majority of beer flights served elsewhere consists of 4 tasters, at Craft they have 6 spanning the length of a wine bottle, as seen in their bottle-shaped flight holder.

You aren’t able to cherry pick which brews to build your flight with, but instead can choose between a local or international line up of rotating brews. With a dollar difference between the former and the latter. The types of beers are not listed, and it is basically a surprise until it arrives at your table with a printout detailing each. The name, make, where it comes from, and the detailed tasting notes.

We got the international flight, already being fairly familiar with local breweries. The collection included a range of ABVs from 4.2% to 8.5%, traveling from Toronto to Eugene Oregon and Belgium to Germany. I liked the discovery, but the downside is that if you are not a fan of say IPS or sours, you cannot avoid those and are forced to get what you get. This was the case as we left 3 sours behind.

Another unique drink option is to order any beer or cocktail and have it topped with a slush. You have a choice between an Aperol Spritz or a Piña Colada slush. I went tropical and had it added on to their house lager, which was on special today. Sadly, the drink does not come assembled and you have to pour one into the other youself. The result of this was me spilling both, as in the moment I was sure that the amount was measured out perfectly for this predetermined pairing. After I mopped up the mess, I was left with a pineapple and citrus forward cold drink, it reminded me of a radler, but a lot more tropical.

As for food, our burgers disappointed on the first visit, so I wanted to give them another try today. This time I went with what felt like a sure thing. The American Double Cheeseburger with two beef patties, American cheese, brown sugar onions, and their craft signature burger sauce. And paired it with the natural marriage of crispy thick cut fries and tangy bottled ketchup. This is exactly what you expect and want when you order a classic diner cheeseburger. Messy, cheesy, and creamy; it landed heavy.

We also tried their pizza as a great shareable option and one that is often partnered with beer as well. The Bacon Fun Guy with their house made bechamel sauce, bacon, herb & chili roasted mushrooms, pickled red onion, mozzarella, grana padano cheese, parsley, and lemon zest. This was a fully topped pie with some very creative flavour pairings on a harder, chewier crust. Each element added its own flavour and salt, which had you reaching for your drink in between bites. This makes sense considering the goal is to pair drink with food in a bar like this. The high point was that each bite ended on a citrusy lemon note as the zest brightened the dish.

If you are looking for something leaner, Craft also has a list of healthier salads and bowls on the menu. We wanted to see how they did with this against their burgers and pizzas so ordered their West Coast Salmon Bowl. Sustainably raised salmon, green beans, quinoa & almond pilaf, spicy chili garlic sauce, and pineapple salsa. As the feature, the salmon could have been pinker at its centre, and a lot more tender to better contrast the firm beaded texture of the quinoa and the crisp beans. There was plenty of seasoning and flavour thanks to the spicy mayo and the sweetness of the pineapple salsa to balance out the heavy-handed salt. Although as good as this was, if at Craft I would forgo the diet and stick to ordering in their wheelhouse.

Eating is not just about the food, the setting makes a difference as well. We can easily request delivery or commit to take out, but if you choose to dine in, you want to enjoy the space. This was the place this was the case with Craft. And I can safely say, after this revisit, I did not walk out disappointed.

CRAFT Beer Market English Bay
1795 Beach Ave, Vancouver, BC V6G 1Y9, Canada
+1 604-566-2739

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