One of the latest additions to draw tourists to Granville Island in Vancouver is the Creek Restaurant, Brewery & Lounge. Located on the extreme eastern end of the island, you'll find fine dining, light Jazz, good craft beers, and a great view. From the long bar at the rear of the building the view through the large windows offers a look at the marina's pleasure boats coming and going as well as the reflections of a setting sun on the skyscrapers on the North side of Vancouver Harbour. The full bar hosts three pairs of hand pumps and seven two-tap chrome towers. The spacious multilevel setting combines a lounge with an adjacent dining area. An open kitchen occupies the center of the room with a long aquarium wrapping around underneath the kitchen's service counter. All seats have an impressive view of something. The brewhouse stands nearby, its copper Specific Mechanical brew vessels and three stainless steel uni-tank fermenters sparkling. A secluded banquet room occupies one whole side of the large building but the best find is the back bar. Containing a fireplace, pooltable, backgammon tables, silent TVs, a dozen tables, sofas, wooden floors, its own bar, and a view into the brew house, this is definitely a place to settle into for a while.
The house beers typically get a water treatment for the soft city water. Next, most brews see the use of German speciality grains, milled on the second floor, then mashed in a multi-step infusion. 15 15-barrel conditioning tanks sit upstairs out of view, ready to serve up as many house beers as demanded, after plenty of conditioning time. The 4.7% Helles is a clear gold with a very light body. This very smooth lager offers a subtle pilsner malt flavor matched with a crisp hoppy character. The 4.9% Czech 12° Pilsner is clear gold, with a very crisp hop flavor. The Paddle-Me Pale Ale is clear amber, with a medium body and very smooth mouthfeel where a nice mellow but rich maltiness is accompanied by a great hoppy character that lasts into the aftertaste. The Broadway Porter, 5.5%, is a clear dark amber with a lasting brown head. The dryness of this medium-bodied nitro brew lasts into the finish. The Hellava Hefeweizen, at 5.3%, starts with a pronounced clove aroma and flavor. Light in body, the wheat comes through to dominate the flavors. The big-bodied Roggen Stout has its roasted malt flavor tempered by the use of 10% rye in the grain bill. The Farrbuilder Dunkel, 5.3%, is a clear dark amber with a nice dark malty sweetness. Bartenders such as Clay know their beers and enthusiastically pour the ornate sampler sets for those interested in exploring the spectrum of Creek beers. All new employees receive three levels of beer education. Bartenders typically experience at least one brew session with brewmaster Stefan Arnason. Unfortunately, the hand-pumps are no longer in use at Creek. It seems the customers didn't appreciate cellar temperature ales. All beers are unfiltered and beers such as the Pale Ale have had 15 barrels disappear in just one week. The business is licensed to self-distribute and actually leases its liquor license and space from the attached hotel operation.
The dining environment ranges from relaxed in the bar-lounge area to a more formal setting among the restaurants's circular tables and padded booths draped with white linen An Express Lunch gets a sandwich for $9 CAN or a sandwich with soup or salad for $12. There are menus for Lunch, Brasserie, then Dinner. Specialties include a soy-marinated Ahi Tuna.
Outdoors, there is a dockside dinning patio along with a licensed (its Canada eh!) drinking patio. Propane heaters keep it hospitable during cooler weather. Sunscreen is available, but for self-application only! Open three years this month, the business continues to attract a growing number of customers as well nuisance visitors from the B.C. Liquor Authority. The incredible view of the city and the snow-capped mountains in the background make Creek a great place to spend sunsets and time afterward. Hopefully the future will see brewpubs welcome in the province's craft brewers association and all brewers can work jointly to improve the state of brewing and drinking laws for businesses and customers alike.
Reviewed by Tom Ciccateri -