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Vancouver’s craft-beer hotbed continues to grow.
With the official opening yesterday (June 3) of Red Truck Beer’s tasting lounge and growler station, Mount Pleasant gains its seventh craft brewery. Yes, that’s seven within the seven blocks east and west of Main Street, between First and Eighth avenues.Red Truck, owned by local drinks entrepreneur Mark James (Yaletown Brewing, The Distillery Bar + Kitchen, and, our favourite, the Flying Beaver), has been a going concern for a decade now; the long-announced physical site opened to the public with speeches by James and government liquor representatives John Yap and Suzanne Anton, and keen attendance by a mass of eager imbibers, lured to the unlikely intersection of First and Scotia by the promise of tasty free beer and the growth of a craft beer industry that shows no signs of slowing.The food side of Red Truck is more robust than at most Vancouver tasting lounges; the ’50s-style diner has sandwiches, burgers, salads, wings, hot dogs, blue-plate specials (only in Vancouver would fish tacos be considered a blue-plate special), all-day eggs (finally!), and soft-serve ice cream. Must taste: the Red Truck ISA, at 4.2 percent alcohol, is a light session ale with bright fruit (passionfruit, apricot) and a light bitterness that begs ordering a second glass, or graduating up to its big cousin, the Red Truck IPA.Red Truck joins company with neighbour and community stalwart R&B Brewing (which has a growler station but no tasting lounge—this is not your warm and fuzzy brewer), Brassneck, 33 Acres, and Steel Toad, plus these recent additions…Main Street Brewing opened a year ago, with a tasting lounge just off Main Street featuring eight-or-so rotating drafts and four kegs. It was a long wait—area residents kiboshed plans for an adjacent restaurant—so food is basic (snacks, sandwiches, a pâté board), which is too bad, since the founders have stakes in nearby Cascade Room and Portland Craft. But the beers are excellent—especially the cask-conditioned ones on tap nightly. Must taste: Main Street Beer Farmhouse Saison No. 7. A blend of three saison yeasts, it’s light in colour and fruity, with a nice sour bite for summer.Big Rock Brewery, from famed Alberta character Ed McNally, has outgrown its craft status (it now brews 450 million litres a year), but puts flavour first, especially with the drafts and growlers in its new home near Olympic Village. A flight of four offers a range of flavours; make sure to include the Roggenbier, a cloudy orange-coloured German rye ale with a nice, sweetly fruity finish (but, oddly, little rye) that begs for food—which is handy, because exec chef Alex Newton has a ton of food on the resto menu, all squarely aimed at sopping up a deep keg dive. Pizzas, cheese plates, nachos, fish and chips, even steak frites, and—a boon on a grey day, alongside a taster paddle—grilled-cheese sandies with jalapeño and apple slices.Thanks to the arrivals of Kit and Ace, the new Cartems Donuterie (at Main and Sixth), Elysian Coffee, the Fox Cabaret, and so much more, Mount Pleasant is the epicentre of Vancouver cool—a drive now spreading ever eastward with the help of these brewmasters.