B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

Archive for the ‘food pairing’ Category

Vancouver Restaurateur Insults Craft Brewers, Belgians, Beer Drinkers

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by WanderingPaddy

A few months back I met with someone from the wine camp. Over a few beers, we had an excellent discussion about issues common to both the BC wine and craft beer industries, successes the wine lobby had realized as a result of advocacy, and how craft beer consumers could better organize to help them realize similar successes. During this discussion, it was pointed out to me that craft beer advocates and the craft beer industry as a whole have a major problem. It has nothing to do with the quality of beer being brewed or the lack of industry organization. This is a problem that is playing a major role in the lack of support given to craft beer by the government and the hospitality industry.

“You (craft beer consumers/industry) have an image problem,” I was told. This was not news to me, and should not be for the majority involved with the craft beer scene in BC. It is a reality and a hangover from the Dark Ages of Beer. This was when, with few exceptions, the majority of beers available from coast to coast in Canada were generic, mass-produced lagers meant to be swilled for effect, not taste. During this Dark Age, beer had no place in the finer restaurants about town, did nothing to enhance or compliment food, and was considered a beverage almost exclusively downed by down-and-outs and working men. Thankfully, due to the explosion of the BC craft beer scene and the amazing beers being brewed locally, those days are long gone. Or are they?

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The Next Wave: Pumphouse Pub

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Bear Republic Long Table dinner at the Pumphouse Pub (l to r: Norm Eng, Tom Orange, Rob Angus of Beerthirst and Chef Daniela Iaci, Micah Noble, Tony Iaci of Pumphouse Pub)

Think of a neighbourhood pub in BC and it’s usually not that difficult to predict what you’re going to find – a wide selection of industrial lager, lots of fried food, a pool table, and televisions. They largely follow a cookie cutter business model that offers Joe Average some macho time with the mates during the week, away from the wife and kids. Come the weekend, it’s time to take the missus out for a little treat of sweet drinks, spinach salad, and live music, maybe splurge a bit on Keno for a chance to take that trip to Vegas or Maui on the winnings.

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The Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen Series Features Driftwood

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Derek Vanderheide at The Refinery CKS

Derek Vanderheide mixes a Thai-pirinha at The Refinery Cocktail Kitchen Series competition.

Writing for Urban Diner exposed me to the world of cocktails. It was on assignment for UD that I met Lauren Mote, who introduced me to the concept of pairing craft cocktails with food. UD was my entree into the community of local bartenders who approach their profession with the dedication and passion of craft brewers. I find it interesting that what is happening in Vancouver’s cocktail scene very much parallels developments in our craft beer culture. Sometimes the two intersect, as when The Refinery hosted a beer cocktail competition in 2009 featuring Whistler Brewing.

This month, craft beer and cocktails meet again at The Refinery’s Cocktail Kitchen Series, an ambitious bartender competition that involves the active participation of the public. The format of CKS is that each month features a food theme and a spirit. For May, there is a Thai vegetarian menu designed by The Refinery’s Ben de Champlain up against Driftwood Brewery beer. The competing bartender then must create original cocktails to pair with each of the three dishes, using the featured beverage and one of The Refinery’s house bitters. Guests then rate the cocktails, the success of their food pairings, and the bartender’s presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

Beer That’s Balilicious

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Balilicious logoI’ll be hosting an exploration of pairing ales with Indonesian food on July 14 in the intimate setting of Balilicious. Most Asian restaurants only offer a selection of mass-market lager and Guinness. This delicious dinner will demonstrate the excellent options other beer styles offer, which are always available at Balilicious:


  • Gado Gado Salad & Special House Peanut Sauce
  • Perkedel Jagung (corn fritters)
  • Martabak Asin (Indonesian beef pancake)

Balilicious Modern Indonesian restaurant interiorMain (choose when reserving this dinner)

  • Kari Ayam (red curry chicken) or
  • Sayur Kari (red curry veggies) or
  • Rendang Sapi (dry curry beef brisket) or
  • Ikan Bali (fried fish filet in tamarind chilli garlic sauce)

Trio Dessert

  • Bubur Injin (black rice pudding)
  • Pisang Goreng (deep-fried banana)
  • Chocolate-and-Avocado Parfait

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VCBW Myths and Lost Opportunities

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Maria Dobrinskaya, Rick Green, Mayor Gregor Robertson toast VCBW.

Maria Dobrinskaya and Mayor Gregor Robertson toast with me the launch of VCBW with some Central City Roach at the Alibi Room Hoppapalooza. (Brian K. Smith photo)

Now that a couple of weeks have passed by since the inaugural Vancouver Craft Beer Week has finished, there’s been time to get feedback in various shapes and forms. Given that we sold out most of our events, that the mayor officially proclaimed Vancouver Craft Beer Week and came to celebrate the festival kickoff with us, and that the mainstream media gave VCBW some good coverage, one could deem it a success for craft beer. Nevertheless, VCBW did not work for some. I want to address a few of the issues that have come to my attention, especially some myths and misconceptions that result in lost opportunities.

First off, I want to point out this was the first such festival for Vancouver; in fact, for Canada. You never get everything right on the first go, but you hope to be in the ballpark (see above). In getting third parties on board, it also didn’t help that we had the Olympics, the Playhouse International Wine Festival, Dine Out Vancouver, and the playoffs as a significant combined distraction. Under the circumstances, one may have to forego the ideal and opt for what is expedient. Next time around, we hope parties will get involved early enough so that we can achieve the ideal for the 2011 VCBW.

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Driftwood Meats the Chopping Block

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Meat Market & Driftwood BrewingIn more food-related news, Salt Tasting Room is featuring Moccia and Driftwood Brewery in their cellar on November 16. With a single long wooden table running the length of the room, this is a great venue to sit down with others who share the love of good food and drink, meet new people, and learn something new.

Readers of this blog will no doubt be familiar with Victoria’s Driftwood Brewery. Moccia is an East Vancouver Italian meat market that offers the finest fresh and dry-cured meats. Their quality is a result of the following philosophy:

Eating meat is a privilege, not a right. We believe animals should be treated with dignity and respect, not only for their sake, but for ours. A healthy animal means healthy food.

Our meats come from local, pasture raised, humanely treated animals.

No antibiotics or growth hormones are added.

The lads from Moccia will be on hand to explain the art of charcuterie, guiding participants through six delectable pairings. Come experience some local excellence:

The Salt Cellar Series: Moccia’s Italian Meat Market & Driftwood Brewing
Monday, November 16, 7:00pm
45 Blood Alley, Gastown, Vancouver
Cost: $40 plus tax and gratuity
Tickets: call (604) 633-1912 or buy online

Written by BCbrews

November 13, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Chowdown

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Boundary Bay Smoked Salmon Chowder Having been very impressed with the Granville Island Brewing / Pacific Institute of Culinary ArtsWinter Ales and Fare” cooking competition, I’m pleased to announce another food and beer contest comes right on its heels.

On Wednesday, November 25, the Vancouver Aquarium‘s Ocean Wise program is hosting their 2nd annual Seafood Chowder Chowdown in conjunction with the Craft Brewers Association. The following ten Ocean Wise chef finalists will battle it out to be the BC Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder Champion 2009: Chef Wesley Young (C Restaurant), Chef Josh Wolfe (COAST  Restaurant), Chef Matt and Andrew Christie (Go Fish), Chef Chris Whittaker (O’Doul’s Restaurant), Chef Sarai De Zela Pardo (Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts), Chef Jasen Gauthier (Provence Marinaside), Chef Michael Carter (The Refinery), Chef Randy Jones (Whistler Blackcomb), Chef Myke Shaw (Vancouver Aquarium Catering & Events), Chef Nobu Ochi (Zen Japanese Restaurant).

Granville Island Brewing, Phillips Brewing, R&B Brewing, Tree Brewing, and Whistler Brewing will each be partnered with two of the chefs to come up with beer pairings for their chowder. These, along with the ten chowders and other beers from the breweries’ portfolios, will be available for guests to sample in the extraordinary setting of the Aquarium at night. At $35 per ticket, this is a phenomenal value.

You get to choose the People’s Choice Award, while five esteemed judges—Chef David Hawksworth, Jamie Maw, Chester Carey, Guy Dean, Kim Stockburn—will determine this year’s champion. Chef Quang Dang of C Restaurant was last year’s 2008 Sustainable Seafood Chowder Champion.

As wine is often an ingredient in chowder, I’m looking forward to seeing what the chefs will come up with in respect to beer. The Smoked Salmon Chowder pictured here is made by Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro in Bellingham. It paired wonderfully with Buy tickets!their Chinook IPA, an annual special release beer that’s sold to raise funds for the Nooksack Salmon Enhancement Association.

The Seafood Chowder Chowdown serves as a good model for other cooking competitions that also lend themselves very well to pairing with beer. Two that I can think of right off the top of my head are the Canadian Festival Of Barbecue And Chili at Eat! Vancouver and the Gastown Blues & Chili Fest. An IPA and curry cookoff would also be brilliant.

2nd Annual BC Ocean Wise Seafood Chowder ChowDown
Wednesday, November 25, 2009 @ 6:00 – 9:00 pm
Vancouver Aquarium, Stanley Park
Tickets: $35 / person

Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Dinner

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Garrett Oliver with the Granville Rooms chef, Kye Agrios.

Garrett Oliver with the Granville Room's chef, Kye Agrios, holding a Mint White Chocolate Iced Parfait with Parisian fizzy fruit and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout.

We’re fortunate to be able to get beer from Brooklyn Brewery here because it’s not widely available south of us in Washington (although what they do have more than makes up for it). It also means that Garrett Oliver has an excuse to visit Vancouver and be able to expense the trip by hosting a brewmaster’s dinner and tastings.

It’s important that Oliver does come to evangelize craft beer and food pairing because B.C. is only starting to get an appreciation for both; the more people (high profile or otherwise), the better. Some in Vancouver are starting to listen, but for a so-called cosmopolitan city, I find it rather disappointing how slow the pace is. At the very least, every brewpub should be featuring a paired beer with each of their food items. Using their own beer in their food should be a standard procedure, wherever it makes sense. Beer with dessert? If the appropriate styles are brewed, absolutely! If not, I would have bottles available to offer it.

Garlic and Thyme Grilled Beef Tenderloin with duck fat confit potato, baby vegetables, and green peppercorn sauce paired with Brooklyn Local 2.

Garlic and Thyme Grilled Beef Tenderloin with duck fat confit potato, baby vegetables, and green peppercorn sauce paired with Brooklyn Local 2.

We have the potential for so much more. Just look at what food pairing has done for wine. If there’s a way to differentiate craft beer from industrial suds, it’s in that direction. It also appeals more to women who are not engaged by sexist macrobrew marketing. To ignore or alienate roughly half the population in your marketing is sheer stupidity. I assure you, women do like beer, even most of the ones that say they don’t. It’s just a matter of finding the ones they like. Who cares if it’s not a macho beer, it’s still beer!

The Brooklyn Brewmaster’s Dinner was hosted at The Granville Room. At first I was a little leery about this choice. It’s on the Granville entertainment strip which is geared to young partiers who are not known for their discriminating beer taste, if what’s typically on offer in these places is any indication. My suspicions were even further piqued when the bartender was serving the aperitif beer in the bottle! That’s fine when you are talking about a characterless lager purposely made to offend as few as possible. For a full-flavoured beer, however, that’s like eating a fine meal with your nose plugged. You lose a lot of the experience, don’t you? Smell plays a large role in taste, so it’s important to drink from a vessel with a wide enough opening to fully take in the aroma. Those who understood this asked for a glass. Those who didn’t, were conspicuous by the bottle they were drinking from. The point, though, is that this shouldn’t have happened in the first place. Time to go to Beer School.

Aside from a stumble using Sichuan peppercorns to encrust ahi tuna in the second pairing (they numb the palate), the dinner was a great success. Oliver was both informative and entertaining; the food was top quality; and we had the good fortune of sampling Brooklyn Local 2, which is not currently available in BC. Personally, I like it better than the Local 1.

As the diners vacated The Granville Room for after-dinner drinks at the Alibi Room, the twenty-somethings were already lining up outside. And while I doubt they would see any benefit from Garrett Oliver’s previous appearance, I’ve still reconsidered my previous hesitation about The Granville Room. In fact, this is exactly the sort of place that needs to have beer events like this. There’s no point in preaching to the choir. It is the “great unwashed” that need to be reached, employees especially. If even a small ray of light can be beamed into their minds, it sows the seed of curiosity that has the potential to germinate into something much greater. This is why there’s a need for a “constant gardener.”

Garrett Oliver Returns to BC

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Brooklyn Brewing brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, with Rick, Aly, and Barry of R&B Brewing

Brooklyn Brewing brewmaster, Garrett Oliver, with Rick, Aly, and Barry of R&B Brewing at The Whip

The Brewmaster’s Table author, Garrett Oliver, will be in B.C. from August 13-16 to host two beer pairing dinners in Victoria and Vancouver. While the cities’ beer aficionados will leap at this opportunity to dine with one of the foremost authorities on the subject, I hope the hospitality industry and the media will also take the time to attend and find out why beer also deserves a place at the table.

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A New Trend for Father’s Day?

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Mother’s Day brunch is becoming a fairly established tradition, but what is there for Dad? How about a Father’s Day brewmaster’s dinner? Thinking that’s a perfect way to show your appreciation for dear old Dad, Central City Brewing, Crannóg, and R&B are each hosting such a dinner this coming Sunday. Here are the details:

Diva Head Sous Chef Jeff Van Geest

Diva Executive Sous Chef Jeff Van Geest

Unforgettable Tastes For an Unforgettable Man

June 21 @ 6:30 – 9:30pm
Diva at the Met
645 Howe Street, Vancouver
Cost: 5 courses w/ beer $55
Info: e-mail diva@metropolitan.com or call (604) 602-7788

Local Oysters 3 Ways
Tempura with crusted edamame & wasabi
Fresh with green apple herb mignonnette
Smoke with rhubarb barbeque sauce
R&B Sun God Wheat Ale

Albacore Tuna & Pink Salmon Tartare
Classic garnish
R&B Bohemian Lager

Bacon Wrapped Sloping Hill Pork Loin
Confit shoulder, morel mushrooms & barley risotto with dried pear
Maple mustard jus & cream ale foam
R&B Smoked Raven Cream Ale Cask (specially brewed for this event)

Farmhouse Cheddar
Apple ginger crumble, garam masala gastrique
R&B Hoppleganger IPA

Blackberry and Dark Chocolate Napoleon
Morello cherry chocolate coulis
Stout ice cream and stout foam
Espresso gellee
Dark Star Oatmeal Stout

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