Craft beer? Fancy snacks? A free tour?? That’s the sort of thing that gets this blogger out of the house on a weekday! The shiny new Central City Brewers and Distillers production facility has been open for awhile but the Grand Opening is this coming Friday from 3pm-7pm. In advance of the Grand Opening I was invited to preview the brewery ahead of the crowd. I’ve been to the new space quite a few times already for growler fills and beer sampling but this was an opportunity to have the place to myself (along with the other guests) and go for a tour with Brewmaster Gary Lohin.
In a nutshell the new facility gives Central City the ability to produce 10 times the amount of beer it could produce at it’s original facility. It is a greener, more efficient production cycle that uses state of the art equipment which brings a modern day consistency to a time honoured craft. Thanks to Yvonne Chiang for the invite, Gary for the tour and Tim Barnes, VP of Sales and Marketing, for the great chat about the new facility and the new Seraph line of craft spirits. Central City has made a big investment in the city of Surrey and has cemented itself as a leader in the rapidly growing BC craft beer industry.
Here are a few more pictures of the event, the tasty tapas, and the great new facility in my home town of Surrey BC.
I get invited to a lot of beer pairing/brewmasters dinners, probably 2-3 a month. Someone recently told me that my blog wasn’t “Craft Beer Focused” and I can’t say I agree. Pubs/Restaurants/Breweries seem to value my opinion so when duty calls I do my best to tell the world about great beer and food. My latest beer pairing dinner adventure came courtesy of Edith and Arthur, a Joseph Richard Group pub located in Surrey’s Fleetwood neighbourhood roughly 4 blocks from my house. People living downtown might think that’s normal but in the Fraser Valley it is fairly uncommon to be able to walk somewhere without using a car to get close enough to do so. They teamed up with Surrey’s Award winning Central City Brewers and Distillers to create a 5 course tasting menu, each dish paired with a Red Racer beer meant to compliment its flavours. Spoiler alert, it was very good.
First things first, when you go to a 5 course beer pairing dinner you expect to try 5 beers. We tried 6 as we were welcomed with Red Racer’s delightfully sessionable Pilsner.
Course number 1 was Crab and Roast Pepper Bisque paired with Red Racer ESB. The bisque was rich and packed full of roast pepper flavour. The crab was almost like a de-constructed crab cake. It was delicate and sweet/savoury and was a perfect companion to the bisque. Red Racer ESB is one of my all time favourite BC craft beers and its caramel malts and medium bitterness accented the richness of this dish very nicely.
Course 2 was Grilled Pair Bruschetta with Chili Poached Prawns. The buschetta was simple and elegant with greens, tomatoes and goats cheese all accenting the slightly grilled pear slices on some toasted bread. The chili prawns had some heat but they weren’t overpowering. The heat was a nice addition to an otherwise light and fresh dish. It was paired with Red Racer Pale Ale, a classic and well executed American style pale ale with a malty backbone and a more subtle hop profile that an IPA or an ESB. Normally I’d prefer an IPA with something spicy like the prawns but this beer was a good compromise between the two sides of this dish. Pairing a beer with a dish that has 2 distinct and different flavours is tough and they nailed it.
Course number 3 worried me a little, actually a lot. My disdain for pumpkin “flavoured” things is well documented . There are a few exceptions but usually pumpkin and I aren’t friends. House made Pumpkin Squash Ravioli with brown butter and pomegranate seeds. The fresh pasta was amazing, the pumpkin filling was rich and only slightly “pumpkiny”, it was more like a butternut squash ravioli with hints of cinnamon/all spice/nutmeg that are usually overpowering. There was a generous curl of Parmigiano-Reggiano laid on top that added some salty goodness. It was accompanied by Red Racer Pumpkin Ale which is equally as subtle in the pumpkin department. An obvious pairing executed perfectly and present beautifully.
The 4th course was craft beer twist on Coq Au Vin. Traditionally made with wine (Coq Au Vin translates to Rooster with Wine) this one was made using Red Racer Red Ale, which I’m fairly certain is the Rad Racer/Flying Monkey’s collaboration Imperial Red Ale, in place of wine. The broth was seasoned well and the red ale flavour was evident but not intrusive. The chicken was tender and juicy and everything took on the flavour of being cooked in the Red Ale sauce. It was paired with…you guessed it…the Imperial Red Ale! You can’t really go wrong making a dish with the same beer you’re pairing it with and this one worked well. The Imperial Red Ale is a 9.5 abv monster which is better sipped than chugged.
The 5th and final course was dessert, an Imperial Brownie with Chocolate Mousse. Think of a one bite brownie, the kind you buy in those little paper bags, topped with a dollop of rich chocolate mousse. It’s impossible for that to be bad. The pairing is what worried me here. You may have noticed that we haven’t had any award winning Red Racer IPA yet, believe me I noticed that too. An IPA with a rich chocolate dessert? Yep, it’s crazy and I like crazy. It’s actually not that crazy, chocolate is naturally quite bitter and the sweetness added to it transforms the hoppy, bitter IPA into something completely different when paired this way. A ballsy move to be certain but you know what they say, not guts no glory.
Thanks to Jeremy, Jessica, and Corey for inviting me and my South Fraser Beer Club Co-pilot Rob out to this well executed beer pairing dinner, well done!
Honest blogger stuff – My dinner, as well as Rob’s, were provided at no charge for review purposes by Edith and Arthur.
For the third year in a row I was graciously invited up to Whistler by the guys at Alta Bistro to judge their cocktail competition, a part of Whistler’s Cornucopia Festival. Drinking and judging people you say? I’ll do it! This year the event took the main stage at the Whistler Convention Centre and grew from 8 competitors in 2012 to 10 this year.
The competitors came from Whistler and Greater Vancouver and are some of the top drink slingers around. The event was sponsored by Flor De Cana 5 year old Rum which was the feature ingredient in each drink. Everyone had 5 minutes to prepare their bar and 5 minutes to create their original cocktails to be served to the 4 eager judges. There was $2000 up for grabs to whoever crafted the best cocktail and I’m happy to say there wasn’t a bad drink out of the 10 that I sampled.
The top three were, from 3rd to 1st, Tia from The Mix in Whistler, Keenan from The Keefer Bar in Vancouver, and your champion for the second year in a row… Scot Curry from Alta Bistro with his Five Alarm Fizz. You might be sceptical of the host bartender winning 2 years running but Scot has had an amazing 2013 winning awards all over Whistler and Canada. Well done Scot!
After the competition the judges and competitors were treated to a “bartenders dinner” at Alta Bistro. 3 courses of simple, local and amazing food. The first course was a beautiful charcuterie board with assorted meats, pickles, and grainy mustard.
Our main course was braised beef shank with roasted potatoes, kale and chipolinni onions. The beautiful simplicity of this kind of food is everything that I love about Alta Bistro. The beef is local and was braised to a rich, melt in your mouth perfection. This dish is me on a plate, I can’t say enough good things about it.
The 3rd course was dessert, but not the usual sweet kind. A simple cheese board with green apple slices and crusty bread. I was way to deep into Alta’s single malt Scotch selection at this point to recall exactly what cheeses we had but 2 of them were soft, stinky and delicious and the other was harder and less funky. I’m pretty sure it was a raw cow’s milk cheese, so good.
From there some of the bartenders/judges and I headed out into the village for a bit of an after party. It’ll probably make it into my biography one day…
Thanks to Ed, Eric and the team at Alta for feeding me drinks and food all day. I’m already looking forward to 2014.
Karma stuff. My judging skills were provided free of charge and my meal at Alta was on the house. I paid for all of my ten hundred drinks after the competition as well as my hotel.
Mosaic Bar & Grille has become one of my favourite places to eat in Vancouver since my first visit in early 2013. They’ve teamed up with VANEATS.ca again to bring you an affordable dining pass featuring some of Vancouver’s finest food. The 3 course Mosaic Harvest package is only $27 and gives you lots of choice including vegetarian options. Let’s check it out!
For starters you have a choice of 3 dishes;
Fall Salad, baby carrots, beets, Tokyo turnips, fennel, pumpkin, tangerine dressing
A la Minute Smoked Skuna Bay Salmon, kale nori, wasabi cauliflower purée
Roasted Chestnut Bisque, Apple Lane Orchard apples, spiced brandy cream
The salad is fresh and has lots of interesting flavours and textures. Beets are amazing and they are the highlight of this delicious salad. The Salmon comes under a smoke filled dome which gives everything on the plate a nice hint of smoke and really enhances the aroma while you’re eating. The salmon is amazing, Skuna Bay salmon is great, and the mild smoke flavour really adds a nice touch to the greens. The Bisque is rich and flavourful, the apple adds a perfect acidity and tartness. All three dishes are top notch.
Again, all 3 dishes are outstanding. The vegetarian friendly curried cauliflower steak is so good… As I carnivore I would order this again without question. The curry flavour is mild and the firm texture of the cauliflower steak is wonderful. The Scallops are large, perfectly cooked, juicy and seasoned with just the right amount of salt. Add the prosciutto and figs and you have an almost perfect dish. I say almost perfect because the lamb is even closer to perfect. Sous vide lamb cooked a perfect medium rare, a rich demi glaze type sauce and bitter broccoli rabe all work together incredibly well. The perfect dish? Pretty damn close.
Dessert offers up two choices:
Pumpkin and Nutmeg Crème Brule
Mosiac’s Signature Chocolate Cake
The Crème Brule surprised the heck out of me because, as most of you know, I despise “pumpkin favoured” things almost as much as I despise the texture of coconut. This dish, however, was really good! The spices normally associated with pumpkin flavour were subtle and well balanced with the sweetness of the caramelized sugar on top. Crème Brule is one of my favourite desserts so I’m sure that helped me with my pumpkin aversion. The cake is quickly becoming legendary amongst Vancouver chocoholics. 3 layers of dense, moist cake separated by rich chocolate filling, drizzled with chocolate and accompanied by fresh berries. One of the best pieces of cake in town.
Get you pass now at VANEATS.ca, limited availability.
Check out the #MosaicHarvest hashtag on Twitter to see what other bloggers are saying about this package and make sure you follow the uber talented Chef Thomas Heinrich, Hyatt Vancouver’s culinary El Capitan.
The Joseph Richard Group are really starting to establish themselves as a company that wants to be known for craft beer. Case in point the upcoming brewmasters dinner at Edith and Arthur in Fleetwood featuring Surrey’s own Central City Brewing on Wednesday November 20th at 6pm. 5 courses, each paired with one of Central City’s amazing local beers plus a welcome beer for $35. You can purchase tickets at Edith and Arthur starting Friday November 8th. This event is proudly supported by the South Fraser Beer Club.
Well, I suppose this was an inevitable outcome, Surrey Beer Club has become South Fraser Beer Club. Why does there need to be a group like this? There are tons of reasons but it’s mostly been summed up in the “About” page from SFBC’s website.
The area south of the Fraser River is filled with craft beer drinkers, sellers and producers and they need a place to call their own. “The roots of SFBC grew from the idea that being a fan of small batch, hand crafted beer and spirits shouldn’t be complicated. We support those who support what we love, no bias, no favouritism. Have something you think we should promote? Send it to us via Twitter orFacebook and if it’s something we think everyone should know about we will share it. It’s that easy. Want to become a member or corporate supporter of SFBC? We should have that sorted out in the next few months with discounts at your favourite places.”