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!

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