Sunday, January 8, 2012

It’s a Mash-up, but is it a monster mash?

Living in Richmond, we don’t get to troll around the Vancouver specialty liquor stores much so we made a special trip to Firefly the other night. We were hoping they still had some TenayaCreek in stock as we enjoyed it so much at the Pumphouse/Beerthirst long table on NYE. We were in luck and scored a bottle of the Monsoon IPA.
But you can’t leave with just one bottle of lovely craftbeer… so we perused their awesome refrigerated selection and grabbed the Phillips (Victoria) / Garrison (Halifax) East /West Mash-Up! Baltic Porter. They describe it as an infusion of fresh figs which endows the beer with a bold fruity sweetness that your palate will appreciate, with subtle hints of black licorice adding a delicate richness to the aroma and body.

“This collaborative Baltic Porter was brewed in Victoria last November when Garrison brewmaster Daniel Girard joined the Phillips team at their facility.  It’s the second Phillips/Garrison collaboration as earlier this year Matt Phillips visited Halifax to participate in the brewing of a Belgian IPA.  When asked why the breweries decided to team up Phillips simply asserted: “Collaboration is part of the craft beer industry, and getting together with our brethren is part of the fun of beer.”  When posed the same question Daniel Girard jokingly retorted “No comment,” as he cracked open another bottle to a pile of freshly emptied glasses.”

Have to say, if there are monsters under my bed like this, they’re welcome to stay! We liked this collaboration and it’s great to see two breweries working together. See, Mom was right when she said to play nicely in the sandbox…

Our beer bag holds four bombers, so we weren’t done shopping yet. We grabbed the Pike IPA and the Lost Coast Indica IPA. I have to admit, the Lost Coast labels are just so cool that we picked it out because of the label (note to the marketing team at Lost Coast, well done).

Now, being halfway between Canada Line stations, it seemed fitting to carry on towards 25th and have dinner at Biercraft Bistro on Cambie. We’ve frequented Biercraft on numerous occasions, but always on a full stomach so today, time to try out their food menu as well. Their beer menu is amazing – five pages, I believe. Here’s what we chose for our tasty libations. I popped my barley wine cherry and had the Driftwood Old Cellar Dweller. It wasn’t on their menu but it was their Driftwood feature. At three times the malt and five times the hops of a normal strength beer, not to mention 12% alc./vol., this certainly packed a punch! It had nice flavours and the aftertaste reminded me of sake.

Kelly went for the Brooklyn Sorachi Ace, a saison with Oregon-grown hops. This is a corked 750 ml growler and the boy didn’t share (well, other than one sip). Kelly gave it a thumbs-up.

Great beer scores and dinner and to boot, I remembered to use my CAMRA card for a discount at both Firefly and Biercraft!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

New Year’s Eve – Beerthirst Long Table at Pumphouse Pub

When we heard that the Pumphouse Pub in Richmond, along with everyone’s favourite guys at Beerthirst, was having a long table on NYE, we jumped on it! You had me at long table…
We shared the evening with our friends Mayleen and Phil and about 40 other beer-loving people. The room was decorated with balloons contained in netting on the ceiling, just itching to get released before midnight. Now let the dinner begin!

The menu featured seven different beers from Tenaya Creek Brewery (Las Vegas), Baird Brewing Company (Japan) and Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales (Michigan) paired with six unique dishes from Chef Daniela Iaci.

We started off with the Jolly Pumpkin Calabaza Blanca, an interesting Belgian Biere Blanche. This sour ale is spiced with orange peel and coriander and after a few sips, it grew on me. Once it was paired with the first course, a flavourful selection of Italian style antipasti, sliced meats and marinated vegetables, I quite enjoyed the ale. The food pairing was well suited to the sour Belgian, most notably the spicy meats, marinated red peppers and the cheese.

Next up, was the Tenaya Creek Pilsner. This lager won the gold medal at the 2002 American Beer Festival for “European-Style Pilsner”. I must say, it was different to have a hoppy pilsner, but it didn’t take away from the flavour or balance. We quite enjoyed this Czech style ale and found it refreshing. Chef paired the pilsner with Italian vegetables and shrimp fritto misto with a spicy herb and parmesan aioli. The vegetables and shrimp were lightly battered and deep fried to perfection.

Round three! Time for the Baird Rising Sun Pale Ale. I was curious to see a Japanese brewery’s take on a pale ale and they didn’t disappoint. This unfiltered pale ale has citrus flavours and a good amount of hops. Unfortunate for the woman at the next table who declared to her husband, “I don’t like hoppy beer”, but great for the rest of us. Side note, she’s not going to drink much tonight… This ale is definitely one of my favourites of the evening and we’ll be searching for it in our favourite craft beer stores. As our friend Phil commented, this beer goes down dangerously easy.

The nut encrusted warm goat cheese salad, topped with sweet citrus & herb provence vinaigrette, was served with the pale ale. This is my kind of salad! A generous portion of goat cheese and about six pieces of lettuce. All salads should be like this. Again, a great food pairing. Chef certainly has an amazing ability to create food pairings that complement each ale and enhance the flavours of both the food and the beer.
We’re almost half way there…

Course four and we’re moving to the darker ales, this time the Baird Angry Boy Brown Ale. Not sure why the boy is angry, but this ale is unusually crisp and has wonderful malty goodness and a sweet spicy flavour. This was matched to the steak frites with stilton blue cheese and carmelized onions.

The evening at the Pumphouse included their New Year’s Eve party post-dinner which featured DJ Chris Calhoun and a couple of blackjack tables, with proceeds going to Osteoporosis Canada. It’s about 10pm now, and the music has started! A welcome relief after watching the Canucks get spanked by the Kings 4-1. The blackjack tables started to get some action between courses but I didn’t partake since if I sat down, I’d probably play for an hour (and miss the rest of the dinner).

Back to the dinner.. the fifth course was the Tenaya Creek Hop Ride IPA, with no food pairing. I love IPA’s and this dry-hopped American Style IPA had a citrus and spicy aroma. It’s 7.2% alc/vol and I probably should have remembered this after dinner when my husband, Kelly, and I started ordering more beer. A great IPA!
That’s four amazing, and generously portioned dishes by Chef and five flavourful ales that complemented her exquisite food. But now is not the time to throw in the towel as the limited release Tenaya Creek Monsoon Double IPA is up next! This 8.5% alc/vol isn’t for sissies. It’s hopped with Tim Etter’s home grown Mt. Hood and Cascade hops and has a nice bitter profile. Great flavours. Chef chose her slow cooked lamb osso buco with spaghetti aglio e olio. The IPA and strong meat coupled well.

We closed off the evening with the Baird Shimaguni Stout –Japanese Irish-style stout. I was impressed. I like a good stout but usually, it’s a meal and I don’t have more than one. Not this stout. It actually had a light, refreshing taste and is one that I could drink all night. It still has all of the typical coffee/chocolate/roasted malt tastes, but without the heaviness that usually accompanies a stout. Where we found the room for the Tiramisu with stout infused mascarpone, I’ll never know. This beautiful dessert was light and fluffy and the perfect end to the meal.

In typical generous Beerthirst fashion, after dinner they dropped off a couple of bombers of St. Nick’s Oaked Spiced Porter at each table. This is a collaboration between Russell Brewing and Fort Garry Brewing. As you would expect, it’s a spicy porter (cinnamon, nutmeg and all-spice).

We were also the lucky recipients of a door prize filled with 10 bombers from Russell and even a Hop Ride from Tenaya Creek. We’ll happily cart that box home in the cab tonight!

The countdown to midnight continued and as $1 from every pint of Tenaya sold was being donated to the Osteoporosis Society, we felt it was our duty to order a couple of Hop Ride IPA’s. Midnight arrived with a glass of bubbly, balloons everywhere and kisses. The party continued long into the night (well actually, the morning) and we stayed for the festivities until 3am. There are many more stories to tell from the post-midnight festivities, but what goes on at the Pumphouse, stays at the Pumphouse. Unless you’re checking out You Tube, Twitter,…. We had a great night! Thanks to the Pumphouse and Beerthirst for organizing another successful long table. 

Happy new year!