Monday, December 31, 2012

The Evolution of a Craft Beer Geek

A year ago, I was excited to write my first longtable review for the Pumphouse Pub’s New Year’s Eve dinner. When I went back to look at my post from December 23, 2011, my first thought was that it was almost embarrassing. But that’s how we evolve, right? By trying more beers, becoming more educated about what we’re drinking and asking questions. So when I look back at 2012, here is what happened in our beer lives:
§  Joined Untappd Jan 28, 2012 ** as of this post, I’ve tried 778 unique beers in 11 months
§  Beer Trips:
o   Seattle (1)
o   Portland (2)
o   New York (1)
o   Squamish (Howe Sound Brewery)
§  Beer Festivals Attended:
o   Portland Spring Beer and Wine Festival (April)
o   Seattle International Beerfest (July)
o   Great Canadian Beer Festival (GCBF) –Victoria (September)
o   Portland Fresh Hop Festival (October)
§  Longtables Attended:
o   Alibi Room (1)
o   Biercraft (2)
o   Pumphouse Pub (6 – including tonight)
o   Sharkey’s Seafood Bar and Grille (1)
o   Smiley’s Public House (1)
§  Cask Festivals:
o   Central City Summer Cask Festival (July)
o   CAMRA Harvest Cask Festival (October)
§  Vancouver Craft Beer Week (May)
o   Tap Takeover (O’Hare’s)
o   Hoppapalooza (Alibi Room)
o   Brothers in Hops (Smiley’s)
o   Elysian Tap Takeover (Pumphouse)
o   Driftwood Pairing Menu (Blue Canoe)
§  Other Beer Events
o   YVR Beertweetup (3)
o   O’Hare’s Pub Friday Night Beers
o   Beerthirst/Half Pints Re-Launch
o   Beerthirst Summer Patio Party at Fog n Suds
o   Surrey Beerclub Tweetup
o   CAMRA Gastown Carouse
o   Beerthirst/Rogue Launch
o   Pink Pints – Cocoa Nymph Event
o   Hopsctoch
o   Modern Malt’s IPA Night
o   Tour de Richmond
Whoa. That’s a lot of beer events. There were also a few bottle shares during the year with other beer geeks where we each brought three or four bottles to share amongst the group. It’s a great way to try new, and sometimes unique, beers without having to buy multiple bottles.
Well, I can tell you this about 2012 – we met a lot of fabulous craft beer people both in person and on Twitter and had an amazing year trying out new beers, as well as revisiting our favourites. I acquired a huge love for sour beers this year and I see that according to Untappd, my top five most popular unique beer styles of 2012 were American IPA (121), Double/Imperial IPA (65), American Pale Ale (37), Saison/Farmhouse Ales (35)  and Imperial/Double Stout (28). Sounds about right. 2012 also marked my first Westvleteren 8 and 12 as well as Pliny the Elder.
So what’s in store for 2013? More beer trips – we’re planning on the Seattle International Beer Festival again in July, a Seattle/Portland/San Francisco driving trip sometime in the summer, GCBF for both days in September and who knows what else. We’re off to Vegas in early March and plan to check out their local craft beer scene, which is something we haven’t done on past trips to Vegas.
I also would like to educate myself more on the styles of beer. This book is kicking around at home, amongst a few others, and it's probably time I cracked it open.

As for this blog, I’m not sure if I’ll continue writing reviews of longtables as they’re probably all starting to sound the same. I wrote a few other posts this year and I may just stick to our beer trips and other beer news that piques my interest. Of course, Alexander Keith’s pissed me off this summer when two USA beer industry people ordered an IPA and got served that imposter, so we’ll see where that may go in 2013.
To all you craft beer loving people, a very happy new year and I hope to share a pint or two with you in 2013.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Beerthirst & Sharkey’s Rogue Ale Dinner

Thanks to Twitterverse, we became familiar with Sharkey’s Seafood Bar & Grille this year and head tweeter, owner, Dre. We’ve visited twice this year – once on a fabulous, sunny day when we dined on their waterfront patio and then again for the Beerthirst Tour de Richmond! And now, we’ve attended one of their beer dinners, which they tend to host monthly. This one was Beerthirst Rogue Ale’s Dinner.


The guys at Beerthirst bring in some amazing beers to Canada and Rogue is one of their newer brands. Rogue Brewery is part of the long history of Oregon craft breweries and they opened the brewery and brew pub in October 1988. Now they have multiple locations, their 2012 beer line up boasted thirty-four (34) Rogue Ales and you can become a Rogue Nation Citizen. How cool is that? While I was cruising around their web site, I noticed that Rogue has spirits as well. They’ve got their bases covered here, folks.

If you haven’t been to Sharkey’s, they’re located at 4953 Chisholm Street in Ladner and have been in business since 1992. Their lunch menu sports loads of various seafood and chips as well as burgers, sandwiches, pasta etc. The dinner menu keeps all of the lunch goodies on the menu but adds seafood and meat entrees. They’re clearly a neighbourhood favourite as on this Friday night before Christmas, the place was packed with what seemed to be regulars.

We saw some familiar faces at this dinner but also, new craft beer loving people. One couple made the trip up from Point Roberts, WA as they love the craft beer selection that Sharkey’s provides. It's a craft beer revolution, I tell ya!

Dre was unable to make the dinner due to new baby/daddy duty but he kept tabs on us through Twitter and tweeted a few trivia questions. Nice touch, Dre!

On to the dinner.

First Course

Savory Fish Morsel – steamed blend of fresh seafood and spices served with sweet chili sauce

Paired with Rogue Kells Irish Lager


The lager’s crisp, clean finish and mellow flavours work well with seafood, and this was no exception. The fish was served as dense balls accompanied with a sweet chili sauce. The sweet and spicy sauce brought a bit of a zing to this dish.


Second Course

Pear & Blue Cheese Salad – fresh romaine hearts, grilled red onion, crumbled blue cheese and poached pear dressed with sundried tomato vinaigrette

Paired with St. Rogue Red


This dry hopped red ale has a malty flavour and the three hops used (Chinook, Perle and Centennial) give it a hoppy, spruce finish. I liked the pairing, especially with the sharpness of the blue cheese, the crisp pears and the sweet, caramelized onions.


Third Course

Doughnut Slider – Cajun pork slider and slaw stuffed inside a cake doughnut, served with beer fries

Paired with Rogue Dead Guy Ale


Dead Guy is a German Malbock style and is malty, rich in flavour and well balanced. This has been one of their signature beers since the early 1990’s and is a great beer to pair with pork or hot & spicy food. As for the food, this slider nailed it. During Tour de Richmond, we had a different slider made with a glazed doughnut, which was a bit too sweet. The cake doughnut was perfect and the spiciness of the Cajun patty worked with the beer. The beer fries were awesome and had a nice bitterness to them.


Fourth Course

Jalapeno Crab Cakes – fresh made crab cakes breaded with jalapeno panko, served with fire grilled salsa and basmati rice

Paired with Rogue Captain Sigs Northwestern Ale (also called Deadliest Ale)


The good Captain, Sig, is a red ale with some floral notes and mild hop and malty flavours. I was looking forward to the crab cakes as they’re one of my favourite dishes. This one didn’t disappoint at all – it had a slight bite from the jalapenos and was loaded with fresh crab. The salsa had some heat/spice that worked as a nice compliment and the basmati rice was cooked to perfection (p.s. show me how to do that). This was my favourite dish and pairing.

Fifth Course

Baked Potato Ice Cream – French vanilla ice cream rolled in cocoa, served with butter cream and mint chips

Paired with Rogue Mocha Porter


The Mocha Porter is a great true-to-style porter with a bittersweet balance of malts, hops, coffee and chocolate. Porters work well with most desserts and this ice cream dessert was no exception. And OMG, what a dessert! This was the coolest dessert I’ve seen – it really did look like a baked potato rolled in cocoa and a slab of yellow “butter” cream on top. The ice cream was clearly house-made and delicious.

All beers were served as four ounce pours, which is enough to pair with the food and give you a proper tasting. The food was served as small portions but it was definitely an ample meal. All of this for $34.99 + tax/tip is a great deal in my opinion. Keep your eye on their Twitter feed, FaceBook account or their website to find out the details for their next beer dinner.

Thanks to Beerthirst and Skarkey’s for hosting this fabulous dinner. We’ll be back soon!

Some of the crab cakes came out with a
different presentation... hehe #foodporn

Monday, December 3, 2012

Tour de Richmond - Beer, not bikes!

Welcome to the Beerthirst second annual Tour de Richmond! If you’re expecting a lengthy bike race and a post-race Lance Armstrong fueled pee test, read no further as this is all about 65 people on a bus, visiting five craft beer loving establishments. This year took a different spin – each location had a different Rogue beer and was tasked with pairing it with a suitable sandwich. The pairings were to be judged by three official judges as well as from all attendees.


Due to a last minute cancelation by one of the judges, I stepped in to judge alongside food guru’s Denis Pang (Pangcouver) and Scott Graham (WFLBC). So let’s see, what were my qualifications exactly?

Judged before? No
Eats food? Yup
Been to food/beer pairing events? Yes’m
Foodie? Nope
Loves craft beer? Hell ya
So there you have it, folks, I eat food and drink awesome beer. Call me Judge.
Our bus “Gordon” picked up the group at Lansdowne mall and it made its way to Steveston. Since we live close to the Hog Shack, we made our way down and, well, had a beer while we waited. Seemed sensible to start the day at 11am drinking a double IPA. I’m smart like that.
Tom working hard pulling pints
Hog Shack
Super chef John paired the Dry Hopped Saint Rogue Red Ale with a mini burger. The patty was bulgogi marinated beef with bacon (with a name like Hog Shack, the little piggy has to make an appearance). It was served on a brioche bun with arugula, spicy mayo and pickled carrots. Super tasty! Loved the spiciness and the malty, hoppy red ale paired well.
John brought the judges the veggie option too. Not your usual portabella patty but one made with quinoa, corn, beets, zucchini and carrots. Wow – I may have liked this one even more than the beef burger. Impressive that John put as much effort into the veggie burger. Hat tip, sir.
Hog Shack - Veggie left, Bulgogi right
Hog Shack
Next stop, The Buck and Ear
A short walk around the corner took us to the Buck. But alas, we passed by Outpost Mini Donuts and had to stop in for some hot cinnamon doughy goodness. Don’t worry, we shared!
I have the feeling the staff didn’t realize that our table and the guys at the bar were part of de tour as we had to request our food. They served up a halibut fish taco in a flour tortilla, with prawns, shrimp, shredded cabbage in citrus vinaigrette topped with a fresh mango salsa. Sadly I think ours had been sitting around for a while as the fish was dry and the tortilla chewy. Not my favourite dish of the day. The taco was paired with Captain Sig’s Northwestern Ale – which is an India Red Ale with a slight citrus hop nose and it pairs well with seafood. So a good pairing, but not the best showing for the taco.
Buck and Ear - Fish Taco
Buck and Ear
Back on the bus, kids, Gordon’s here! Next stop, Sharkey’s in Ladner! Ok, so technically, Delta isn’t in Richmond but since only one restaurant made a sandwich for the sandwich contest, rules don’t apply, baby. And we’re pretty ok with that.
The ever gracious Dre had his team on fire – everyone was seated quickly and most importantly, the beer came moments later. Dead Guy Ale – a German Maibock style was the Rogue beer at this stop. The food pairing was, wait for it, a doughnut burger! A mini glazed doughnut with a beef patty and tomato and popcorn served on the side. The beer worked well to cut down on the sweetness of the doughnut. Although a bit sweet for my palate, my husband gladly took over and demolished half of my doughburger. Originality points for this pairing! We even got a bonus mini milkshake with Rogue Dirtoir Black Lager and caramel syrup. Oh yum! Thanks Dre!
Sharkey's - Doughnut Burger
For no particular reason, the bus ride was a wee bit louder and full of laughter en route to O’Hare’s. Huh. I wonder why. Back through the tunnel, down Steveston and WE’RE HERE! All quiet like little mice. At this stop, it was the Rogue Brutal IPA – brutal in a very good, hoppy, citrusy way. Erinn and Grant chose to pair chicken spring rolls filled with cheese, Cajun spices, onion and a drizzle of spicy sour cream. Tasty! I had a bite of one of their regular menu items, the Irish Spring Rolls (no, not the soap) – corned beef, swiss and sauerkraut. Both paired well with this well-balanced IPA. Thanks Erinn & Grant! (This is also where we kidnap Grant to carry on to the Pumphouse. Yes, we’re evil.)
O'Hare's - Chicken Spring Rolls
O'Hare's - Amanda, Rob and Leo
One more stop! One more stop! Last year, we packed it in after this stop as we’re close to home but as a judge, I had a moral obligation to make it to the bitter end. I may have even pinky swore. So off to The Pumphouse and Daniella's dish - and she served up a sandwich. That’s right, the only sandwich – Vietnamese Bánh Mì with chicken liver pâté, pork belly, sriracha aioli, pickled vegetables and cilantro. The sandwich was full of interesting flavours and was paired with Yellow Snow IPA. The hops and bitterness of the IPA worked well with this dish. And this is the kind of yellow snow that people like. Trust me, I’m a judge.
Pumphouse - Bánh Mì
Independently, but unanimously, Scott, Dennis and I all chose the Hog Shack for their pairing. Congratulations John and team! It was a close match amongst the other attendees but the Buck and Ear won from their votes. Well done!
Another fun day with the Beerthirst team – thanks guys! And a super shout-out to all the venues that hosted the increasingly noisy group. You all did a great job – hope to see you next year!

Len is pretty happy with his shirt!