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.

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MOA longtable dinner at The Pumphouse with Beerthirst

New Zealand craft beer is seriously popular right now and MOA beer is riding that wave right into BC courtesy of the fine folks at Beerthirst. Beerthirst has once again teamed up with the Pumphouse Pub is sunny Richmond for a 5 course beer pairing dinner. Leo and the gang at Beerthirst were kind enough to invite me to join them.

Thai scallop ceviche
Thai scallop ceviche

Course 1 was a delightfully fresh Thai Scallop Ceviche paired with MOA’s brilliant Methode pilsner. The ceviche was crisp and flavourful with hint of heat and citrus notes that paired perfectly with the champagne yeast and Pacifica and Motueka hops in the Methode. I liked this beer so much that I just bought 3 bottles and plan on adding it to my regular rotation.

Shrimp and corn fritters
Shrimp and corn fritters

Shrimp and corn fritters paired with MOA Pale Ale became what we referred to as course number 2… Actually that’s because it was course 2, whatever. The deep fried fritters were delicious, seasoned right and had lots of shrimpy goodness. The savoury flavours paired very well with MOA’s Pale Ale and its malty back end with subtle but fragrant and delicious Cascade and Nelson Sauvin hops. New Zealand hops are incredible.

Poutine
Poutine

Course 3 was the one we were all waiting for because POUTINE! Hand cut fries with caramelized onions, crisp bacon and Gorgonzola creama paired with MOA St. Joseph Belgian style tripel. The poutine, although non traditional, was outstanding. The salty bacon cut through the funky but awesome Gorgonzola while the caramelized onions added a little sweetness. The MOA St. Joseph is a nice example of a classic triple with the flair that New Zealand beers are known for. The pairing was sadly not there for me but on their own the poutine and beer were great. This dish was CRYING for a hoppy pale ale and MOA’s Five Hop would’ve been just the ticket.

Wok Duck
Wok Duck

The 4th course was “Wok duck”. Crispy fried duck with a sour cherry beer demi glaze paired with MOA Noir, a dark lager. This dish was sadly way off the mark. I’m hoping I just got a bad one because these longtable dinners are usually spot on. The duck wasn’t crispy and was difficult to remove from the bone. The sour cherry beer demi glaze was quite nice, I wish there was more of it on the duck. The MOA Noir is a solid example of a dark lager with strong coffee notes and an abv that’s a very sessionable 5%.

Dark chocolate mocha cup
Dark chocolate mocha cup

The fifth and final course was everything I hoped it would be and more. Hand made dark chocolate mocha cups filled with crunchy almond cream and topped with smoked sea salt. Wow, just… Wow. Super rich, intensely sweet but cut down by the smoked salt. Creamy, crunchy, melty, dreamy. It was paired with MOA’s stellar Imperial Stout which weighs in at a hefty 10.2% abv and tips the hop scales at over 100 IBU’s. This is a MASSIVE beer. The funny thing is that, as Chris from 16th Street Liquor Store put it, this is the only dish that could cause a huge imperial stout to act as a palate cleanser, the desert was that rich. Awesome pairing, awesome beer, awesome dish. Perfect ending to the night.

Big thanks to The Kooner Hospitality Group and Beerthirst for buying me yet another dinner, you guys rock. If you haven’t been to one of these dinners I highly recommend you check one out, they’re one of the best values in town.

Scott.

Booze Reviews – Estrella Damm Inedit

This post is going to ruffle some feathers among my craft beer friends. The thing is, S.A. Damm is a large scale commercial brewer of lagers from Spain, they are marco all the way. Macro beer is awful stuff, Heineken, Budweiser, Molson Canadian and on and on. These beers are loaded with adjuncts, fillers that make them cheap to produce, taste bland (and all the same) and quite bad for you. Corn and rice have no place in beer, period. Then Damm goes and does something awesome, they bring in world renowned chef Ferran Adria of and his team from the greatest restaurant to ever exist, el Bulli, and let them work their magic on a limited run beer.

Estrella Damm Inedit
Estrella Damm Inedit

For those of you unfamiliar with Chef Adria and elBulli you can check them out HERE and HERE. Chef Adria was joined by his business partner Juli Solar and elBulli Sommeliers Ferran Gentelles and David Seijas to create Inedit for Damm. Inedit translates to “Never been done before” and I tend to agree. There are beers that are made to pair with food but none that I can think of have this kind of talent behind them.

The beer itself is a lager\wheat beer blend with coriander and orange peel added to the brewing process to give it its desired flavour profile. It pours a cloudy pale yellow with a light, large white head and a nice amount of carbonation. The flavour is light and delicate with orange and coriander playing off the subtle hop notes. This beer is meant to be served chilled in a white wine glass ( yes, I know mine wasn’t in a wine glass…) and left in an ice bucket after it is opened. By itself this beer is quite nice but not extraordinary. You need to pair it with food to see what it’s really meant for.

I paired it with sashimi (tuna and salmon) and it was outstanding. The slightly oily yet delicate fish made the citrus notes of the beer sing like an opera. Beer pairing is quite different than wine pairing. Craft beer pairing is like hammering a nail into a piece of lumber, the flavours are often intense and need intense foods to balance with. Wine pairing is more like a finishing carpenter dovetail joining two pieces of a high end cabinet together, it takes a lot more finesse to get it right. Estrella Damm Inedit takes beer pairing and makes it as sophisticated and subtle as wine pairing, it’s quite an achievement. There are pairing suggestions in the little booklet that comes on the bottle and they’re spot on.

Like I said, my craft beer pals will not like this post but at the end of the day isn’t this what all of us want? A macro brewery trying to make unique and interesting beer? Doesn’t that mean that craft beer and its popularity are forcing the big guys to change their ways? It does.

Scott.