Casks for Surrey Memorial – UPDATED

It’s been awhile since my last fundraiser so let’s do this! Big Ridge Brewing Co. and the South Fraser Beer Club present Casks for Surrey Memorial. Join us Thursday August 28th at 6pm to help me show my appreciation to Surrey Memorial Hospital for saving my daughter’s life earlier this summer after a near drowning incident. Words cannot express my gratitude.

Casks for SMH

There will be 3 casks of local craft beer on hand. One from Big Ridge, one from Fuggles and Warlock Craftworks (their Super 8 Bit IPA no less!) and one from Surrey’s own Russell Brewing. Lots of local businesses have donated items for our silent auction/raffle including Dead Frog Brewing, Famoso Pizzeria, The Joseph Richard Group, Tasty Indian Bistro, Starbucks, Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store,  Dageraad Brewing, and more. Big Ridge Brewing will also be offering up some great swag along with hosting and organising the casks. We will also be doing a 50/50 draw. I can’t say enough about Rob and the whole team at Big Ridge and the Mark James Group, Their generosity over the years has helped me raise a lot of money for some amazing charities.

Hayley says thank you!!!
Hayley says thank you!!!

I hope to see everyone and I can’t wait to do some good for Surrey Memorial Hospital! The Big Ridge shuttle will be making trips to King George Station and it’s regular area, call 7789387433 to schedule a pick up and get home safe. DJ Alibaba will be playing all of your favourite hits from the 80’s and 90’s too.

There’s a Facebook event page here, invite all of your friends!

Please help us spread the word by sharing this on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or wherever you can.

Scott.

 

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Milltown Bar and Grill

Did you know that there’s a part of Richmond located in the middle of the Fraser River that you can only access from Marpole? There’s a tiny Island called Richmond Island located on Musqueam land that is part of a development called Milltown. There’s a new Bar and Grill at 9191 Bentley Street, which is the home of Milltown Marina. Milltown Bar and Grill is pretty damn cool.

Milltown Bar and Grill
Milltown Bar and Grill

Milltown sits just north of the Vancouver International Airport and has an incredible view of the north runway. More on that later. There’s a rotating craft beer tap, currently Hoyne Devil’s Dream IPA, and a small selection of craft bottles to keep my beer nerd pals happy. The Devil’s Dream was pouring beautifully and was the perfect companion to sunshine and plane watching on the south patio. There’s another patio on the north side that overlooks the marina, they’re both good choices if you like to sit outside.

Hoyne Devil's Dream IPA
Hoyne Devil’s Dream IPA

The menu is a classic west coast bar and grill line-up with all the usual suspects along with some non traditional items like Butter Bhicken, Halibut Tacos, and Salmon Wellington. I opted for the Freighter Burger, a house made all beef patty with Pale Ale BBQ sauce, bacon, and gouda plus the standard veg. The freighter is a solid buger, I’d order it again. The house made patty has nice tecture and is properly seasoned. The fries that came with it are battered, something I’m not super keen on but they were tasty none the less. I’d love to see in house hand cut fries with this burger!

Freighter Burger
Freighter Burger

Sitting on the north patio puts you up close with some pretty big planes landing at YVR from all around the world. The noise isn’t as loud as I thought it would be and watching planes land is pretty awesome, ya know? Here’s a couple of 747-400’s I managed to photograph.

Lufthansa 747-400
Lufthansa 747-400
British Airways 747-400
British Airways 747-400

Overall Milltown Bar and Grill is a great place to spend an afternoon. There’s tons of parking, good beer, tasty food, lots of action on the patio, and you can bring the whole family (something I did not know until after I got there…oops). Here’s a handy Google Earth shot to show you where they are, followed by all their pertinent links and so forth.

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Twitter – Milltown_Bar

Instagram – milltown_bar

Facebook – Milltown Bar & Grill

Web – milltownbar.com

Scott.

 

Booze Reviews – Red Racer ISA from Central City Brewers and Distillers

It’s been awhile since I’ve done a craft beer review. There’s been al lot of talk about craft beer and alcoholism lately and it’s a topic worth exploring. Check out this post by Miles Liebtag from Beergraphs.com that set the Twitterverse on fire last month. Then local beer blogger extraordinaire Chuck Hallett broke it down even further by showing how much alcohol you are consuming drinking craft in comparison to macro beer in a post on his blog barleymowat.com . My bet is session beers, great beer with lower alcohol content, will be the next trend. Let’s check out a new player in the session beer game, Red Racer ISA (India Session Ale) from Central City Brewers and Distillers.

Red Racer ISA

The beer pours a crystal clear golden colour with a pure white head. I’ve had it at the tasting room on draught and from a can and I prefer it in the can (zing!). There’s a nice citrus hop aroma from the Mosaic hops along with some straw notes. It has a slightly sweet taste along with a mild hop bitterness. I really like this beer. 40ibu, 4% abv, and 120 calories. Do the Crossfit people know about this yet?

I’ve struggled with the amount I drink all in the name of being “part of the scene”. Session beers are a godsend and I hope it catches on. I’m a little tired of hearing people talk about “responsible consumption” one minute and seeing them falling off a bar stool at a cask-fest an hour later.

Cheers!

Scott.

 

A new seasonal from Big Ridge Brewing. A new launch video from South Fraser Beer Club.

Well, Epic split Belgian Strong Ale is tapped out, if you didn’t see the video that South Fraser Beer Club made for it you can check it out here. The next seasonal at Big Ridge Brewing Co. in Surrey launches this Monday (Feb 17, 2014), Good Vibrations West Coast Pale Ale!. Check out Brewmaster Nick Bolton and South Fraser Beer Club’s Rob Wheeler as they hit the surf in celebration of great beer!

This video was made by the super awesome Bryce Pugh, you should ask him about the Kessel Run – brycepugh.ca

Let’s all have a beer together!

Scott.

Townhall Langley Beer Dinner with Parallel 49 Brewing

It’s been awhile since I’ve been to a beer dinner so when my Beer Club Bro Don called and invited me to one, I couldn’t say no! The last Joseph Richard Group beer dinner I went to was fantastic, check it out here, so when I heard this one was at Townhall Langley I was giddy like a tiny antelope.  This was a 5 course affair paired with Parallel 49 brews. Let’s begin.

Tortilla Soup
Tortilla Soup

Course 1, Tortilla Soup paired with Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale. The soup was a little spicy which paired very well with the hoppy nature of Gypsy Tears. I believe the soup was a roasted red pepper base but to be honest I forgot to take notes for the first course. Worst blogger ever. Either way it was quite good.

Glass Noodle Salad
Glass Noodle Salad

The 2nd course was a Glass Noddle Salad with prawns (prawn) and an Asian inspired slaw paired with Happarazzi IPL. The veggies were almost like bibimbap but not quite as tangy. I could’ve used more than one prawn but beggars can’t be choosers. The pairing begged for more spice but still worked.

Beef Tenderloin
Beef Tenderloin

The 3rd course was Beef Tenderloin with mushroom reduction, broccolini and horseradish. It was paired with Old Boy Classic Ale. One word, perfect. The tenderloin was perfectly mid-rare, the mushroom reduction was perfectly rich and seasoned, the horseradish cream was punch you in the sinuses fantastic. So good. The pairing was a no brainer, nailed it.

Cedar Planked Salmon
Cedar Planked Salmon

Course number 4 was Cedar Planked  Salmon with sweet potato purée and roasted cauliflower paired with Craft Lager. The salmon was good, I’m not sure that “cedar planking” really does anything for me though… The purée was sweet and rich and roasted cauliflower is always a winner. The pairing was sweet paired with sweet, not really a big risk but good none the less.

Ice Cream Sandwich Trio
Ice Cream Sandwich Trio

The 5th course was absolutely brilliant, tiny ice cream sandwiches paired with Ugly Sweater Milk Stout. 3 ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies. One with mint chocolate chip ice cream, one with coffee chocolate chip ice cream, and one with some kind of peanut brittle (maybe honey roasted peanuts) ice cream. Wow, just…wow. The Milk Stout was just right with this dessert.

Thanks to JRG and Townhall Langley for having Don and I as guests! Our dinners were on the house but we left a fat tip.

Check out Joseph Richard Group and their many establishments for the next delicious beer dinner and follow South Fraser Beer Club ( Twitter – @SF_BC, Facebook – SouthFraserBeerClub) for all of your craft beer needs.

Twitter – @WEAREJRG

Facebook – WEAREJRG

Interwebzzz – jrgvancouver.ca

Scott.

Our "Welcome beer" Parallel 49 Craft Lager.
Our “Welcome beer” Parallel 49 Craft Lager.
Don and I got to try the new Robo Ruby. Very nice indeed.
Don and I got to try the new Robo Ruby. Very nice indeed.

 

Four Winds Brewing dinner at Sharkey’s Seafood Bar and Grille

Delta’s Four Winds Brewing is quickly making a name for itself around town as a major player in the local craft beer scene. Every new release is seemingly better than the last and I haven’t found a Four Winds beer that wasn’t outstanding. My latest beer dinner adventure took place at Sharkey’s in Ladner where Chef Brent Fahl put together a 4 course dinner, each course paired with one of Four Wind’s delightful beers.

Four Winds ESB
Four Winds ESB

The first course was a punchy bold move by Chef Fahl. A Pear and Blue Cheese Salad, grilled romaine hearts, poached BC pears, lots of crumbled blue cheese, red onions, and a sundried tomato vinaigrette. If you’re not a blue cheese fan, but really why wouldn’t you be, this salad probably would’ve haunted your dreams for weeks. I, however, love blue cheese in all of its forms and this salad had the right punch and balance to make the copious amounts of cheese work. It was paired with Four Winds Wet Hopped ESB. This beer is incredible, the fresh hops are on full display here and the ESB’s malty nature gives them a counterpoint which a lot of “fresh hopped” beers seem to lack. The pairing worked very well too matching the strong flavours of the salad with heavy handed hops and malt, but not in a bad way.

Pear and Blue Cheese Salad
Pear and Blue Cheese Salad

Course 2 was Chipotle Braised Pork Belly. Beer brined oven braised pork belly, chipotle BBQ sauce, garlic beer fries and roasted butternut squash. The pork belly was tender and juicy with a great crust around the edge. The BBQ sauce was smoky with minimal heat. The fries were great, garlic and salt is something that is hard to mess up. The squash was also tasty but 2 starches was a heavy choice. This dish could’ve used something lighter like coleslaw or pickle slices. It was paired with Four Winds IPA. IPA’s are a perfect pairing for anything smoky or spicy and Four Winds makes a great IPA.

Chipotle Braised Pork Belly
Chipotle Braised Pork Belly

The 3rd course was Crab Cakes. Crispy fried panko breading with a cucumber and wasabi sauce, basmati rice and fresh pea shoots. The crab cakes were a nice size and texture,. They had the right balance of savoury seasoning to accent the sweetness of the crab meat. The cucumber and wasabi sauce could’ve used a little more wasabi and the rice needed a little seasoning but the crab cakes themselves were very good. The Four Winds Saison paired well here. I wish it had been the recently released Saison Brett but the standard saison is equally as amazing.

Crab cakes
Crab cakes

The 4th and final course was a rich Molasses Sponge Cake with vanilla ice cream and candied lemon zest. The cake was great, it had a gingerbread like taste from the molasses and it was super fresh and moist. The candied lemon zest was outstanding, I wish there was more! This rich dessert was paired with Four Winds Malted Oat Porter. This was my first time trying their porter and it’s fairly full bodied for a dark beer that tips the scales at 5.5% abv. The chocolate notes pair well with the molasses. 4 courses, 4 great pairings. Nicely done Sharkey’s!

Molasses Sponge Cake
Molasses Sponge Cake

Follow Sahrkey’s on Twitter @sharkeyladner or on Facebook at Sharkeys-Seafood-Bar-Grille and Four Winds is @FourWindsBrewCo and FourWindsBrewingCo.

Sharkey’s and Four Winds are both South Fraser Beer Club approved!

Scott.

Beer Pairing Dinner at Edith and Arthur featuring Central City Brewers and Distillers

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.

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Pilsnerific

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.

Crab and Roast Pepper Bisque.
Crab and Roast Pepper Bisque.

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.

Grilled Pear Bruschetta with Chili Poached Prawns
Grilled Pear Bruschetta with Chili Poached Prawns

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.

Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter.
Pumpkin Ravioli with Brown Butter.

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.

Coq Au Vin
Coq Au Vin

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.

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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!

Scott.

Honest blogger stuff – My dinner, as well as Rob’s, were provided at no charge for review purposes by Edith and Arthur.

Celebrate Oktoberfest all month long with the Joseph Richard Group

October, the one month of the year where I can drink every day of the week because of those crazy Germans and Oktoberfest! The other 11 months I try and keep it to 7 days a week. Every Tuesday in October The Hemingway Public House, located right on the strip in White Rock, is having their very own Beerfest!  With beer from 9 breweries including Hoyne, Central City, Elysian, New Belgium, Parallel 49, Hacker Pschorr, and Schneider Weiss you can guarantee that you’ll see me there at least once this month.

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All Joseph Richard Group pubs are celebrating with awesome beer features everyday! Check out this handy calendar and plan your month wisely, October only comes around once a year! Don’t forget, CAMRA members get awesome perks (aka discounts…) so sign up!

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Twitter – @WEAREJRG

Facebook – WEAREJRG

Interwebzzz – jrgvancouver.ca

Scott.

Fresh Hop Showdown. Driftwood Sartori Harvest IPA vs. Hoyne Wolf Vine Pale Ale

The competitors
The competitors

As I sit in front of a retina scorching monitor there’s a 3 year old waging physiological warfare on me from the top of the stairs. It’s bedtime, or at least it’s supposed to be bedtime. My little “princess” has become quite a manipulator when it comes to going to sleep every night and try as I might I can’t seem to crack the code of getting her to agree with me. I’ve run into a similar situation while comparing 2 fresh hopped, limited run beers from a couple of fantastic Vancouver Island breweries. One is an IPA, it is wildly popular and causes good people to do bad things to obtain it upon its release every year. The other is a Pale Ale that is from a less “popular” brewery and doesn’t generate anywhere near the buzz that the IPA does and it puzzles me. I’m going to make some of you mad with this post, I don’t care.

Sartori Harvest IPA
Sartori Harvest IPA

Driftwood Brewing‘s Sartori Harvest is the darling of the BC craft beer scene. Its name alone sends shivers down the spine of hop heads all over the south west corner of our little country. It is a fantastic beer, this is a fact I can attest to having sampled it for the past 3 years upon its release. It has changed from year to year and in my ever so humble opinion it was at its best in 2011. This year it was slightly better than last year but not by much. Here’s the thing, is Sartori Harvest a better IPA than Driftwood’s Fat Tug? I know a lot of you will point to ratebeer.com and say “Scott, you idiot, look at the numbers!” Well, the thing with ratebeer.com and any other site like it is that the ratings are user generated and thus not a true representation of a beers true value/rating. A once a year limited run beer like Sartori Harvest is bound to get glowing reviews because it’s in demand and supply is short, simple math.

Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale
Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale

Hoyne Brewing‘s Wolf Vine Wet Hopped Pale Ale is the red headed stepchild of the fresh hop season. Often being given poor ratings and receiving it’s fair share of negative backlash in the craft beer community. Is it deserved? No effing way, this beer is fantastic. BC has a major beer boner for IPA’s and Wolf Vine is not an IPA, it’s a Pale Ale which is a very different style of beer. When I read what some so called “beer experts” have to say about this beer it makes me want to scream. I hear the word “diacetyl” thrown around a lot when it comes to this beer and quite frankly I think you’re all a little over your heads trying to say that you can recognize an organic compound used to produce a buttery flavour over the proper use of malts in a proper pale ale. What cicerone course did you attend? Oh right, the same one as everyone else, none at all. Wolf Vine is NOT AN IPA, I really think a lot of you to read that a few times and let it sink in.

So here’s my verdict. Sartori Harvest is a fantastic beer, a true west coast IPA that makes great use of the fresh hops available during hop harvest season. However, it is not the best IPA in town and Driftwood’s own Fat Tug is proof of that (along with a few others but it really is splitting hairs on a few of them). In this showdown it makes the most pronounced use of these wonderful hops and I will be very sad when my last bottle is gone.

Wolf Vine is a stellar Pale Ale with a more subtle use of fresh hops but they add a certain delicate balance to this beer that’s very addictive. This year’s Wolf Vine is a marked improvement over last years and if the trend continues into next year this beer will be truly legendary. The strong caramel malt backbone and the fresh hops are a magic combination that elevates this humble pale ale to the status of David as he slays Goliath, a true giant killer.

Wolf Vine takes the 2013 WFLBC Fresh Hop Showdown Crown. I’ll be keeping an eye out for fresh hop releases from other local breweries and I plan on comparing them as well.  I await the hoards of sheep that like to follow the heard to tell me how wrong I am.

Scott.