The Dependent Magazine is a Vancouver-based publication of daring and creative works of journalism and entertainment.
Want to get involved?
Send text, pictures, videos, and crude drawings to email@example.com.
If not the newest craft brew pub in the city, St. Augustine’s is certainly the most recent addition on The Drive, and their wide assortment of draught and bottled beers has made it a popular spot amongst thirsty East Vancouverites. Named after St. Augustine of Hippo, the patron saint of beers, this newcomer to Vancouver’s beer scene has an astonishing 40 taps, with a number of staples and a rotating cast of four to six seasonal brews. Almost every well-known craft brewer in the province is represented here, and Monday nights see the tapping of a fresh cask, usually from the coast of B.C.
For our first beer of the evening, we decided on the Crannog 10th Anniversary Fresh-Hopped IPA. Crannog is a brewery I love for their dedication to British and Irish-style ales. Best known for their stout and Irish red, I was hoping for a strong and flowery IPA with bold hop notes. A fresh-hopped beer uses green hops directly off the bine, rather than the dried hops brewers rely on for most of the year. It’s strictly a seasonal option offered by a number of local brewers with access to fresh, local hops. In the case of Crannog the hops come from the brewery itself; their operation is located on a working farm.
As we waited for our server to arrive, we took in the atmosphere. Clearly the news of St. Augustine’s impressive selection has made the rounds. Unfortunately, the noise, coupled with the astounding number of flat screens doesn’t make this pub the best place to indulge in true beer geekery — at least not on a Friday night.
When the beer did arrive I found it to be lacking a good head. The sole bartender was pouring for a packed house, and I suspected the misconception that head is a bad thing was also at play. Due in part to the presentation, the beer didn’t offer much in the way of nose: a hint of malt, but little hop aroma. With a slippery mouthfeel, the texture was like a cask ale — soft, whereas a carbonated beer tends to scour the tongue. Very much an English-style IPA, with no new world traits whatsoever, this Crannog tips towards the bitter end of the scale, displaying full-bodied features while maintaining light tones. The flavouring hops used are earthy and woody, and worked with the malt to give it a pastoral quality: a true English farmer’s ale. For those who enjoy a classic, light, English IPA, this is a perfect beer.
Scanning the menu, we moved on to a beer from Dogfish Head, a Delaware-based brewery and one of the foremost craft breweries in North America, if not the world. Dogfish Head offers a wide range of unique beers, and brewmaster Sam Calagione has led the way in innovation and experimentation.
Named for the length at which the wort is boiled, the 90-Minute IPA is the brewery’s flagship product. With hops added at a number of points throughout the process, it’s a distinctively hoppy brew. Hints of a stronger use of crystal, or amber/brown malt, bring out a light copper colouring, but what really stood out were the intense floral and citrus aromas blooming in the nose. Upon first sip, the beer was surprisingly balanced, without the cutting bitterness found in the Crannog. The stronger malt body carried the middle of this beer, then finished with the same floral characteristics of the nose, and a slightly sweet, bready finish. Coming in at 9% this is no session ale, but its complexity does make it an intellectual beer, with much to be savoured and considered. Calagione deserves to be (and has been) commended for developing this recipe that so effectively places hops at the forefront without overdoing it as so many other brewers do.
Despite its lack of charm and the slow Friday-night service, St. Augustine’s is still worth the trip for its fantastic beer selection and great location on the Drive.