Location: Port Moody
Year Opened: 2014
BC Beer Award Wins: 2017 – British Brown Ale (Shake a Paw Smoked Porter), Specialty Fruit (Go Get It Ginger Lime Gose), 2016 – Pale Ale (Chase My Tail), 2014 BEST IN SHOW (Shake a Paw)
Canadian Beer Awards Wins: NA
Rank in Port Moody: 2nd place (out of 4)
Rank in Metro Vancouver: 5th place (out of 48)
Rank in Southwest B.C.: 8th place (out of 77)
It’s hard to say a brewery has become more focused when they’ve always been the most grown-up of their generation, but Yellow Dog has.
When we first reviewed them last year, they still had some rough-edged vestiges of being the first brewery on Port Moody’s now-competitive Brewery Row circa 2014: a teeny-tiny tasting room with scrawly signs
and a slightly timid lineup. Still, their uncommonly balanced, polished brews won us over, even when they tried tough-to-nail styles like Chew Toy Coconut Porter.
Now, they’ve moved out of their old doghouse and into a full-sized tasting room. They’ve continued to round out their offerings with new winners like the High Five Hazy IPA while keeping old favourites like the Chase My Tail Pale Ale excellent.
Last year, our consensus was that Yellow Dog stood to shoot up the rankings if they got just a little bit better. They did get better, but so did many other breweries. We can’t write a review of Yellow Dog without contrasting Twin Sails — now Port Moody’s other top-tier brewery — by pointing out that while Twin Sails shot up massively by expanding from ho-hum German pastiches in some wildly experimental directions (a zero-IBU IPA! A beer brewed with real crab! A stout that tastes like cake!), Yellow Dog stayed in the same territory and, resultingly, at the same level.
Not all of Yellow Dog’s new releases have wowed us, which is a worry for an outfit that used to rarely missed a shot. Their blunt, leaden 2017 fresh-hop IPA was a particular disappointment, especially because it was already an easy bet while plenty of lesser brewers are trying (and succeeding at) riskier fresh-hop showcases like sours and brett ales.
Their expanded tasting room makes it easier to get in and try a flight, but its acoustics aren’t exactly great and the long-tables-only layout is still a little awkward.
Still, it’s hard to fault a brewery for just continuing to do what works. Their standbys remain pack leaders, with even Four Winds unable to top the perfectly warm, nutty, harmony of the now-canonical Chew Toy.
Maybe an old(er) dog doesn’t need too many new tricks, so long as they’re still loyal and always there for you. Yellow Dog remains a faithful companion, and one of the most reliable breweries in BC.
Yellow Dog and entrants ranked above it all deserve to be called excellent.
38.1/50, a very good puppo.
Quality: 16.4/20 (7th)
Standout: 4.3/5 (4th)
Diversity: 7.2/10 (17th)
Innovation: 3.3/5 (20th)
Experience: 6.9/10 (41st)
TOTAL: 38.1 (8th)
Categories: Brewery Rankings