These guys are opening in Ottawa soon.http://ottawa.craftbeermarket.ca/
I wasn't too impressed with the Vancouver location. The beer list is huge, but not well curated. My food was surprisingly good, but I have heard complaints from others. The building is very cool, but they turned in it into a way too loud sports bar and filled it up with boneheads to match. Not the kind of place to go be social, just watch people scream at TVs.
If they get the environment and the beer list right, maybe the Ottawa location will be worth a visit. It's possible that there are just too many good competitors in Vancouver, so they are trying to bash their way into the market. Ottawa, being much less developed on the beer bar scene, might call for them to do something a little more laid back and special. Here's to hoping.
I wonder what their Alberta locations are like.
As for the Manx, I second that. There is usually at least a couple good beers on the limited local list, the food is good and it's just a nice place to hang out.
I've been to the Vancouver and the Edmonton locations, very similar inside. Loud, lots of TVs, huge beer list kind of all over the map. No whales, but lots of tasty beer. My worry with Ottawa is that all those Stone, Gigantic, etc taps out West will instead be Broadhead, Bicycle, Whippersnapr, etc. The "local" beer was the least interesting option in both Vancouver and Edmonton. But with the import situation here that could be the reverse.
To the original question about Ottawa, yeah, for local stuff Black Tomato is pretty reliable, but it's more of a food destination. Same as Wellington Gastropub.
Local can be lively with some locals on tap. Feels very "chain" though. Brothers can be so depressing if it's empty.
Arrow and Loon has a pretty solid taplist, but again, can make you want to poke your eye out with a fork with combined bad service or dead atmosphere. I think a night up in that area is likely more promising than anything else. Clocktower is also not that far away.
It sucks that Landsdowne was gobbled up by big chains, but if you get past that, Local, Crate and Barrel are neat spots. With A&L just a few blocks down and A&L not that far it has better options than the market.