Do you have a friend who moved out of the city, bought a bigger place in the suburbs, and now has a calm, adorable life with an adorable family and an adorable dog? Are you that friend? Yellow Dog is that friend.
When Yellow Dog first opened its doors, they were in a sleepy corner of suburban Port Moody — now they’ve been joined by three competitors in an area since dubbed Brewery Row. But while the sheer quantity of beer available in a short walking distance makes the city a great crawl destination, our team strongly felt the first entrant was a cut above the others.
Something about their approach to brewing feels decidedly grown-up, put-together, and above-the-fray. Brewmaster Liam Murphy (formerly of Parallel 49) sounds a bit like a parent soothing bickering siblings when he explains the outfit’s philosophy: making classic, hop-forward Pacific Northwest styles accessible even to non-hop lovers. Rather than trying to earn cred from obscure styles or polarizing flavours, Yellow Dog sticks to a sound portfolio of crowd-pleasers like a pale ale, smoked porter and hazy IPA.
That isn’t to say what they produce is bland, uninspired, or behind-the-times. Across the board, their beers are polished and balanced: their finely-tuned Chase My Tail Pale Ale was a reviewer favourite, the smooth Chew Toy Coconut Porter won accolades from everyone who tried it, and their Sit And Stay India Session Belgian Ale impressed even those who weren’t usually fans of the style.
As a result, they made the top four on standout beer, with many of our reviewers picking different ones for their favourite.
And on virtually all metrics, Yellow Dog is a top 10 brewery: but we did the bulk of our reviewing of Yellow Dog in September 2016, when their now-great tasting room could still be described as small and sparse, and their score took a hit for it.
(Editor’s note: if you want to be really outraged that we haven’t corrected this, let us state that if everyone ranked it with the new room, it would *probably* end up in fourth place)
Metro Vancouver has become an extremely competitive scene for its highest-quality breweries, and we all benefit from it. Quality begets quality, and some of the best new spots on our list sprung up recently when a brewmaster who started somewhere good moved on to make a new venture great.
Yellow Dog and entrants ranked above it all deserve to be called excellent.
Quality: 16.2/20 (6th)
Standout: 4.2/5 (4th)
Diversity: 7.2/10 (10th)
Innovation: 3.6/5 (8th)
Experience: 5.3/10 (36th)
TOTAL: 36.4 (7th)