The Spotlight is a series of interviews with the craft beer heroes behind local organizations who are helping grow the beer scene in our fine city. In this issue, we look at Denman Beer Wine and Spirits.
It’s no secret that bottle shops that cater to serious craft beer drinkers are few and far between in downtown Vancouver – this is especially the case anywhere west of Granville St from Waterfront, all the way to the Granville St Bridge. Aficionados will often find themselves traveling out of the area simply to find a decent selection of beer readily available at retail. That is, unless you are fortunate enough to live down in the West End, where one store has acted as a lone beacon for those of us who are driven by the desire to have quality bottles of beer on hand.
Working in Yaletown for the last few years, the number of trips I’ve made down to the old Denman Beer Wine and Spirits location are beyond count. Sure, there were a few other stores between my office and the West End where I could try my luck at, but with one disappointing trip after another, I was incredibly relieved to have discovered their store. The consistency of having good beer in stock became something I could set my watch to, and after just the first time I chose to take on the headache of traversing the entire length of Robson Street, I had decided it was worth going out of my way for. As if I didn’t already have reason to be envious of those living close to the beach and Denman Street’s very enchanting pedestrian surroundings, getting turned on to their liquor store was the hopped up icing on my fermented cake.
Fast forward to the present. I hadn’t been down into the West End all year due to both career and personal schedules that just didn’t allow for me to get over there. I had begun to follow the Denman store on Twitter somewhere along the way and, as I scrolled through my news feed as I am oft to do while drinking my morning coffee, I was surprised with a posting about having moved to their new location. They’d relocated just a few blocks down, in a much larger space and touting an expanded beer selection. Intrigued, I made a point of ducking out of the office for an hour to go check out the new store offering. I certainly wasn’t expecting to be disappointed, but at the same time, wasn’t prepared for the difference between the old and new locations.
And different, it is! If you had ever been into the old store, you know full well how…cozy it could be with just a few other customers in the store. That is no longer the case. When you walk into the entrance of this Denman store, you’ll find yourself in a space exponentially larger than its’ predecessor. Complimented by a great corner location that is highly visible from the street, this move now offers customers a vast selection in a brightly lit store. Gone are the days of squeezing awkwardly between customers when trying to find what you are looking for. This is a full blown upgrade in every sense of the word. Many of you are familiar with Gerry Erith, the store’s Beer Manager, but in case you aren’t, take comfort in knowing that the store’s beer selection continues to be curated by one of the most knowledgeable beer geeks in the city. Thanks to Gerry, we continue to see offerings like Cascade, Four Winds’ limited edition releases, and even Cantillon grace their shelves. That said, it joins the ranks of places like Brewery Creek, Bottle Jockey, and the Steamworks Liquor Store as a source of super-limited releases that beer hunters like myself race over to any time the availability of a hard-to-find beer is announced. I had missed out on a release of something a few weeks ago, and when I saw a tweet from the store mentioning they had just a few bottles available for sale, I dropped what I was doing and managed to get the full limit per customer for myself.
This is the definitive go-to for quality beer in the West End, and in a broader sense, all of downtown Vancouver. One of those places that I’ll pop into at random and end up spending $300 dollars I didn’t plan on – an expense that I am perfectly happy making. I should clarify that prices are quite competitive, and you aren’t going to find an arbitrary nor unreasonable markup of anything on their shelves. I spend at least that much a week on beer everywhere else, and I do so at Denman because of the offering they’ve built for themselves – and us consumers.
All in all, you absolutely should add this store to your list of places to source out the best beers you’ll find on shelves anywhere in the city (if you haven’t already). Members will also be very pleased to know that Denman Beer Wine and Spirits offers a 10% discount on all beer and cider to active, card-carrying CAMRA members. If you are spending any amount of time in the area this summer, close to the beach, fireworks and other events, do yourself a favour and explore their wares. You won’t be disappointed. And for those of you that live close to the new Denman and Comox location? Consider yourselves the target of this writer’s envy.
Jeremy Noonan – CAMRA BC, Vancouver Branch Community Liaison