This past week has been all about the Olympics for me. The Games are about so much more than competition and medals. Every day and every night, the streets of Vancouver are flooded by people from all around the world having the times of their lives. We have gone down to join them a couple of times – you get impromptu parades, concerts, and a heck of a lot of revelry.
One feature of the Olympics is that different countries and provinces have set up pavilions. They vary a bit in content, but most of them incorporate some sort of food and drink component, and there is always some local flavour. For example, the Atlantic Canada pavilion does a daily tasting menu, featuring the fish and flora of the region’s cuisine. We had mussels, a fantastic smoked salmon cream cheese roll, raw oysters, lobster canapés and things like that – all delicious. They poured beer from local microbreweries including Propeller, Garrison and Picaroons. Some of these beers are not normally available in Vancouver, so this is quite special.
Other pavilions are also breaking out local microbrews. I’m told Ontario is, but I haven’t gone in there yet. Quebec has a four pack of microbrews from the Archibald micro outside Quebec City. They’re also offering tastes of ice cider, Face Cachée Neige Première, which is one of their more accessible brands (that is to say, less deliciously intense). I’d heard the Saskatchewan was offering Paddock Wood stuff, but all we found when we went there was Pilsner and Canadian. (For non-Western Canadians, Pilsner is a budget brand from Molson that is especially, and inexplicably, popular in Saskatchewan).
National pavilions also bring the local beer, although in most cases it’s just stuff we can buy in the liquor store. So Slovakia is pouring Zlaty Bazant; Ukraine has Obolon; Germany is pouring Köstritzer and some sort of boring pilsner; and of course Holland House is pouring boatloads of Heineken.
The beer experience is not really why you go to any of these places, though. You go because it’s a blast. You get a taste of local flavour and the vibe is awesome. Now if you’ll excuse me…
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