B.C. Beer Blog

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

Posts Tagged ‘Whistler Brewing

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 »

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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

Canada’s First Beer Cocktail Competition

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Canada’s first beer cocktail competition will be held at The Refinery in Vancouver on August 17, featuring beer from Whistler Brewing. It will be interesting to see what the local bartenders will come up with to expand the beer cocktail repertoire beyond a Black Velvet, Irish Car Bomb, Ogre Juice, and Red Eye.

Contestants will have to devise a cocktail using either Whistler Black Tusk Ale, Classic Pale Ale, Honey Lager, Premium Export Lager, or Weissbier. They will then have to create it live, behind the bar at The Refinery, using their own ingredients and the supplied beer.

Judging the competition will be Bruce Dean (President, Whistler Brewing), Chester Cary (Canada’s first Certified Cicerone), Joanne Sasvari (The Vancouver Sun), Andrew Morrison (Scout Magazine), and yours truly.

The winning bartender will receive a TaylorMade golf bag; a case of Whistler beer; and a day of golf, dinner, and drinks for two at Pemberton’s Big Sky Golf & Country Club, voted Best Course in BC by the Vancouver Sun Golf Guide 2009.

After the competition, General Manager, Lauren Mote, and her team will be serving a special Whistler Brewing Company beer cocktail list, along with paired canapés from Executive Chef Michael Carter. Carter was formerly the chef at Dix Barbecue and Brewery.

Whistler Brewing Cocktail Challenge
Monday, August 17 @ 3:00pm
The Refinery
1115 Granville Street, Vancouver

Beer Festival in Wine Country

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Patrick Cumisky serving up some Central City Red Racer IPA.

You may be surprised to learn that it takes a lot of good beer to make a fine wine. That might explain why Penticton’s Cannery Brewing sells more beer in Naramata than all of Alberta and why Silverado Brewing operates a burgeoning brewpub on the grounds of a winery in Napa. It may also explain why the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale in Penticton has no problem still selling out in its fourteenth year.

This year was the first time I attended the OFOA. I had heard the festival was starting to get on the rowdy side in recent years (from the perspective of older beer geeks like myself). My suspicions were aroused when a half-dozen twenty-something males in the lineup in front of me started whooping and hollering even before the venue doors had opened! They were not already drunk. I guess the OFOA must be their biggest event of the year — combine drinking and two-dimensional food (pizza) with skirt-chasing and brawling et voilà, Christmas in April.

How about some Paddock Wood London Porter?

How about some Paddock Wood London Porter from Saskatoon?

I expected, therefore, to see plenty of young bucks drinking themselves into alcohol-induced belligerency, rather than taking the time to learn about and appreciate the beer. However, festival organizers seemed to have taken note of the downward trend and made some changes. Tickets were reduced by 1,000 for each of the festival’s two days, the cost was increased, and sales were strictly limited to before the event. It was also suggested that the music, for the most part, was chosen to coax a more mellow mood than feed the fire. These measures and vigilant security seemed to effectively keep a lid on things. A number of vendors expressed to me a resulting improvement.

On the tasting side, the majority of the festival was devoted to craft beer. There were 17 microbreweries directly represented, including four Washington breweries; two importers poured five beers from four foreign craft breweries; two mass-market beers squeaked in over the bar; and a smattering of alcopops and a macro-cider were there for the females who think they don’t like beer and will continue to think so until their menfolk graduate from drinking macro lager as their everyday beer.

Crannog brewmaster, Brian MacIsaac, accepts the Peoples Choice Award for his Back Hand of God Stout.

Crannog brewmaster, Brian MacIsaac, accepts the People's Choice Award for his Back Hand of God Stout.

Molson Canadian managed to weasel in a pseudo presence at the Boston Pizza booth, unofficial sponsor of unhealthy eating and, by extension, unhealthy drinking. Nevertheless, the food offering was actually better than the Washington Cask Beer Festival. The Barking Parrot took it for best value in my books. (How can you beat a cheeseburger for $1.00?) The Kettle Valley Station Pub offered a decent Louisiana Chicken Burger for $2.00. However, the best eating was easily from Salty’s Beach House — Thai Mini Meatballs, Scallops Remoulade, and fresh-shucked oysters. How civilized! The majority of festivalgoers seemed to agree too as Salty’s won the award for best food.

While there were seven hours on Saturday to make your way through the 60-odd beers worth trying; between drinking, chatting with brewers & fellow CAMRA members, eating, and taking in some of the entertainment, I didn’t manage tasting them all. Mind you, I’d had a number already. Things especially slowed down later in the day when the crowd got much thicker and lineups were ten deep in places. I mostly concentrated on trying what was new to me and found myself quite satisfied by the end.

The festival finale was the announcement of the Industry and People’s Choice awards. The people chose Crannóg’s Back Hand of God Stout as the festival’s best beer. A panel of judges, including my editor at Northwest Brewing News, Alan Moen, selected Pyramid Apricot Ale as the best macro beer, while Shuswap Lake’s (aka Barley Station) Sam McGuire’s Pale Ale was their choice for best micro beer. And that’s what I would call a successful conclusion.

For more OFOA photos, see my Flickr Beer Festivals Set. I also have some photos from my tour of Cannery Brewing the day before.

The Best of… Beer Confusion

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WE, the weekly formerly known as the West Ender, recently published its ‘The Best of the City’ readers choice awards. In their After Dark section, they had a couple of categories covering beer, so fewer issues for me to have than with the Georgia Straight‘s ‘Best of Vancouver‘ awards. Nevertheless, it is another canary in the coal mine to judge how beer-savvy their readers are. The verdict? Not terribly.

WE had two categories devoted to beer —Microbrewery and Brew Pub. What were the picks?

Microbrewery:

  1. Dockside Brewing Co.
  2. Steamworks Brewing Co.
  3. Granville Island Brewing

Brew Pub:

  1. Yaletown Brew Pub (sic)
  2. Steamworks Brewing Co.
  3. Dockside Restaurant & Brewing Co. (sic)

Problem? Dockside and Steamworks are not microbreweries They produce beer solely for sale on their premises, hence the term ‘brew pub.’ Microbreweries produce beer for sale outside of their premises. They’ve been allowed to have tap rooms to offer visitors a sample of their brews, but full pub service is not available.

So for next year’s ‘The Best of the City’ awards, let’s get what we’re voting on straight. In Vancouver proper, there are three microbreweries — Granville Island, R&B, and Storm — and four brew pubs — Coal Harbour, Dix, Dockside, Steamworks, Yaletown. If the boundary is actually Metro Vancouver, then the options extend from Lions Bay to Delta, Bowen Island to Abbotsford. That excludes Howe Sound Brewing, Whistler Brewhouse, Dead Frog, and Mission Springs. It also doesn’t include Whistler Brewing which doesn’t even brew in Whistler. Granville Island is a bit of an anomaly because the only beer they brew at the island is their seasonal releases. Anything that’s sold in a six-pack is made in Kelowna.

B.C. Recognized at Canadian Brewing Awards

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B.C. brewers won 14 out of a possible 63 awards at this year’s 6th Annual Canadian Brewing Awards in Toronto. A panel of 14 certified beer judges evaluated 239 beers from 50 breweries entered in 21 style categories. The following B.C. beers were winners:

Gold

  • Lighthouse Lager, Lighthouse Brewing (North American Style Premium Lager)
  • Tessier’s Witbier, Buckerfield’s Brewery—Swans (Wheat Beer Belgian Style)
  • Hefeweizen, Tree Brewing (Wheat Beer German Style)
  • Longboat Chocolate Porter, Phillips Brewing (Fruit and Vegetable)

Silver

  • Rocky Mountain Genuine Lager, Fernie Brewing (European Style Lager—Pilsner)
  • Belgian Wit, Granville Island Brewing (Wheat Beer Belgian Style)
  • Sungod Wheat Ale, R & B Brewing (Wheat Beer North American Style)
  • Hop Head IPA, Tree Brewing (India Pale Ale)
  • Appleton Brown Ale, Buckerfield’s Brewery—Swans (Brown Ale)

Bronze

  • Whistler Weissbier, Whistler Brewing (Wheat Beer German Style)
  • Surley Blonde, Phillips Brewing (Belgian Style Ale)
  • Swans ESB, Buckerfield’s Brewery—Swans (English Style Pale Ale Bitter)
  • Amnesiac IPA, Phillips Brewing (India Pale Ale)
  • First Trax Brown Ale, Fernie Brewing (Brown Ale)

Congratulations to the winners in their quest for excellence. Be sure to sample all of the above.