It is a good time to be a beer lover in Vancouver.
The number of craft brew houses in the city has grown exponentially over the past few years, and with many of these microbreweries also putting some skin in the food service game there is no shortage of places for Vancouverites to enjoy a flight and some decent grub on a Friday or Saturday night.
But what about the next day? It can be way too easy to wake up, blurry-eyed and empty-bellied, only to find yourself staring down the barrel of a dainty brunch menu offering trios of teeny, tiny waffles with a selection of mimosa-like beverages the only “hair of the dog” in sight.
Delightful? Definitely…on some occasions. But there are times when a beer loving bruncher simply needs more than that. Oh, so much more.
Tucked a few blocks away from the hustle and bustle of Olympic Village lies the Big Rock Urban Brewery, and as soon as one walks through the front door they immediately know that this place is serious about beer.
Turn to the right and you encounter the brewery’s tasting room and cold beer store. Here you can purchase Big Rock products by the bottle, fill your growler with their current seasonal release, or book a tour of the onsite brewery.
Turn to the left and you enter the Eatery portion of Big Rock’s brand new-ish Vancouver venture. Here you will find an expansive but welcoming dining area, a cozy lounge (complete with a floor to ceiling view of the brewery’s vats), and a weekend brunch menu that is entirely beer inspired.
When Alberta based Big Rock Brewery decided to open a Vancity location they made a commitment to ensure their BC brewed beer was both locally inspired and authentically West Coast. Using locally sourced ingredients whenever possible and brewing on location in Mount Pleasant, Big Rock Urban Brewery has not only successfully captured the region’s unique essence in its BC inspired beers, it has also incorporated many hallmarks of Vancouver’s food culture into the highly innovative menu at the Big Rock Urban Eatery.
In addition to using meats, eggs, and other ingredients sourced from local suppliers, dishes here regularly incorporate a holistic use of beer that is highly indicative of the Vancouver food scene’s commitment to sustainability. In true sustainable style various aspects of the dishes are not only flavoured with beer, but the spent grain from the beer production is sent away, milled into a flour, and used to create many of the main elements featured in the chef’s creations.
And speaking of the chef…did I mention that the guy behind this innovative, beer based menu, Alex Newton, is known on the social media scene by the handle @chefbeerbelly? I wasn’t kidding when I said this crew is serious about beer.
Upon arrival at the BRU Eatery my partner and I (who also happens to be the official photographer for this beer lover’s adventure) quickly began our experience by ordering a carefully selected flight of Big Rock beverages to share.
Both being fans of lighter brews we chose White IPA, Hefeweizen, Centennial Wet Hop, and Rock Creek Dry Cider from their extensive list of beers on tap. The paddle was delivered with breakneck speed and allowed us to leisurely sip away while we set about the difficult task of narrowing down our meal choices.
We were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to chat with Chef Alex before ordering (who, for the record, is a super rad guy) and got some fantastic insight into each of the dishes on the small but diverse brunch menu before making our final selections.
The first dish we pulled the trigger on was the Poached Egg Benny on Spent Grain Bread. Some may remember from past posts that I am not an Eggs Benny fan, but after chatting with Chef Alex there were some elements to the dish that definitely had me intrigued, so I took a chance…and boy, am I glad that I did.
Let’s start from the ground up, shall we?
The English muffin that serves as a base for this tower of locally sourced deliciousness is made in-house, using flour milled from the spent grain produced during the brewing process. This unique component gave the muffins a rich, nutty flavour that had me trying to liberate small bits that were still untouched by the hollandaise just so I could fully appreciate the bread’s fabulous flavour on its own.
The next layers consist of BRU Kielbasa (which you can swap for fried eggplant if so inclined) and a masterfully cooked soft-poached egg. The Kielbasa is made off-site by local charcuterie crafter Oyama Sausage who also incorporates the spent grain from Big Rock Urban’s brewing process into the production of this classic yet uniquely flavoured sausage.
Lastly, this lovely dish is drizzled with a thick and creamy IPA hollandaise sauce that is infused with a tangy goodness that one just has to experience themselves to fully appreciate.
Our second choice was really a no brainer. You see, whether it be for brunch, lunch, or a late-night, post-drinking snack if there is charcuterie on the menu my photog taking beau and I are going to order it, and this was no exception.
During our chat with Chef Alex he divulged that when creating this plate he was inspired by everything he personally wants to dig into the morning after he finds himself having sampled a few too many flights.
Chicken liver mousse made with beer? Check! A hearty serving of BRU Kielbasa? Hellz ya! Locally sourced goat cheese? Bring it! And to round it all out, another one of the chef’s perfectly cooked, soft-boiled eggs.
Not pictured is the generous serving of soft and delicious, house-made, spent grain flat bread that accompanied this plate. Rest assured we used it to make sure that every little bit of the savoury chicken liver mousse and fresh goat cheese was cleaned up and safely in our bellies before officially tapping out.
As previously mentioned the Big Rock Urban Eatery is committed to operating a sustainable kitchen using local suppliers whenever possible. This quality is clearly evident in everything from the brilliant orange yolks of the Rossdown Farm eggs to the remarkable freshness of their specially made charcuterie.
Oh, and that delectable bowl of shiny yellow goodness that you can’t stop staring at in this picture? Beer jelly. That’s right, jelly made from Vancouver brewed Citradelic Single Hop IPA. While Chef Alex was kind enough to include it as an extra with our charcuterie we were delighted to find that it can be purchased by the jar in the cold beer store.
While we did grab some jelly to take home you can bet that following a late night of rabble-rousing in the not-so-distant future we will find ourselves wandering blurry-eyed and empty-bellied back down towards Olympic Village knowing that there is a place that fully understands that on some mornings a beer loving bruncher just needs, well, more.
310 West 4th Ave
Weekend brunch from 11:00 am.
Reservations are not required, but they do accept them.
Nicole Westcott is a Vancouver dwelling, Fluevog wearing, happiness advocate. When not brunching or blogging she can be found frequenting wine tastings, diligently engaged in her quest to find the world’s best grilled cheese sandwich, or whipping around the Vancouver Seawall on her beloved bicycle, “Elwood”.