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Oakes Weekly - January 19, 2006

A Sunny Sunday in Vancouver
Oakes Weekly January 19, 2006      
Written by Oakes

Vancouver, CANADA -

This has most surely been the winter of our discontent here in Vancouver. You see, it rains here in winter. A lot. People have been getting stupid grumpy. A guy I work with got a ticket for jaywalking…in the pouring rain. A doctor at the hospital got picked off by the cops for not stopping her bike completely at a four-way stop…in the pouring rain. The parking Nazis, some of the most petty in the world already, tried to tow a Brink’s truck. I mean, yeah, cause armoured car guys are going to walk a couple of blocks from the nearest legal parking with $200,000 in cash on them.

So the rain has been making people just completely stupid and petty around here as we closed on in a record. Then, after 27 consecutive days of rain, something bizarre happened. The sky turned blue and some yellow round thing was in the air. There was a strange warming sensation on my skin. I decided, for the first time in a month, to go for a walk. From my new home, I went the big five minutes to the wonderful old baseball stadium Nat Bailey, where they play minor league ball in the summer. Then I decided to hit up some of the local establishments.

Sitting outside – yes, we can do that in Vancouver in January on the day it isn’t raining – I enjoyed a pint of Russell Cream Ale. The sandwich board advertised the day’s specials, including one which boasted of using Walla Walla onions. I went to Walla Walla last spring it was onion fields as far as they eye can see. They are very proud of their onion fields there, and probably have an onion festival, just like the town where I grew up has a blueberry festival to celebrate its famous local crop.

Now, for all I know all the onions for sale in BC come from Walla Walla. The ones on top of my fridge come from Pasco, which is pretty close to Walla Walla. But it is just a neat reminder of the days when every town was famous for something. The beer in my hand was almost famous. When the Russell Brewery launched some ten or so years ago, Cream Ale in BC was a on its way to becoming a fixture in the world of beer. It’s not Cream Ale, you see. It’s a 5% alcohol beer that looks and tastes like a dark mild. East Vancouver’s Shaftebury Brewing started it, with their signature brew, back in the late 1980’s. Russell and Whistler came onto the scene with Cream Ales of their own, imitating the wildly popular Shaftebury brew. Examples could soon be found as far away as Saskatchewan.

But that was it. Nobody bothered making any more. Shaftebury got sold to Sleeman and lost momentum and it is no longer the dominant microbrew in the city. Whistler’s version crapped out before the brewery itself crapped out, and Russell’s has now been eclipsed by their more mainstream Extra Special Lager. Nobody outside BC saw the need to drink such a type of beer.

So the style that might have been ultimately never was.

I headed up the street to buy some groceries. No big grocery stores in this neighbourhood. No big chains of any type, actually. You don’t buy sandwiches at Subway here because you can’t. You get them at the Italian deli. You have coffee at the Coffee Cow, while everyone else in the city is at Starbucks. It’s really cool being cut off from mainstream consumer society. Except that the butcher shop isn’t open on Sundays and the green grocer doesn’t have meat. So the only place to buy meat on a Sunday is the halal butcher.

So I got some chicken and beef and checked out the store for other items of interest. Searching the fridge for some paneer, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. I had to do a double-take. Delster. Yes, the Iranian beer. In non-alcoholic form but it’s Iranian so there might not be any other form. And beside it, Golden Delster. Just like that, I was the new #1 rater of Iranian beer. Go me! Hey, I’m a country hunter and this was insanely cool. There are no documented cases of someone finding Delster and the only rating of Golden Delster came from omhper, with a can picked up by a friend who’d actually visited Iran.

Then I went up to the Afghan restaurant for a Lebanese lunch of falafel, baklava and Laziza NA. That one wasn’t nearly as good as the first time I’d had it, back in Hamilton, Ontario.

But all in all, not a bad day. A little sun, a little reflection, and a score that has to rank as pretty cool. About as cool as a non-alc score can get anyway. I still like the little things I get from being a beer geek.



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start quote So the style that might have been ultimately never was. end quote