Dishing: Bitter Tasting Room
Many years ago (too many to share with you), I was backpacking around Europe with a friend. One hot, sunny afternoon in late September, we climbed 509 stairs to the top of Cologne’s beautiful cathedral. Once back on terra firma, we headed straight to McDonald’s for some lunch. (I know, I know … but what can I say? We were students on a tight budget.)
When I saw beer on the menu, I ordered one, despite the fact that I didn’t actually like beer and had never managed to swallow more than a sip or two. But hey ― it was a really hot day and I had just climbed up and down the equivalent of a 30-storey building. And yeah, I did think it was pretty cool that I could buy a beer at McDonald’s.
You know what? It was the best beer I had ever tasted. I became an instant and committed convert to the beverage. My theory is that, until that point in my (then) young life, I had simply not been introduced to the right kind of beer. It took a German beer ― in McDonald’s no less, but German nonetheless ― to get me hooked on the stuff. I’ve enjoyed many a cold one since.
Why do I have beer on the brain, you ask? It’s because this past weekend was the first of the year that we Vancouverites enjoyed summer-like temperatures. And so, I thought, what better time to introduce my readers to one of the best craft beer taprooms in the city.
Bitter Tasting Room is located near the corner of Hastings and Carroll in what is actually more Downtown Eastside than Gastown. I’ve been here a couple of times ― the first time, ironically, at the suggestion of a friend who doesn’t herself drink much beer (so I knew it must be good if she was willing to go), and the last time with my sister just last night.
Bitter offers a selection of more than 60 bottled beers from North America or Europe, with a particularly strong selection of Belgium beers. You can also order a pint of draught from a choice of about eight local craft beers. Or you can order a flight of beers, and sample three at once.
The food is typical German and English pub fare — sausages, Scotch eggs, and a killer kale Caesar salad are a few examples. In wintertime, I enjoyed a tasty dish of cassoulet, a slow-cooked stew made with duck confit, pork belly, sausage, and braised beans that comes from the Languedoc region of France.
Bitter is part of the Heather Hospitality Group and I have yet to be disappointed by an evening spent in one of their establishments.