Booze Reviews, Oktoberfest Beers!!!

Ah October, Thanksgiving turkey dinners, food coma’s and Oktoberfest. Beer is a wonderful thing and having a 16-18 day festival to honor it sounds good to me. I’m going to introduce you to 2 beers today, one made specifically for Oktoberfest and another that is a Czech style pilsner.

First up is Surrey’s own Russell Brewing Company with another solid entry in their Brewmaster series, Russell Marzen. Marzen is a tradition Oktoberfest beer that’s been brewed since the 16th century in Bavaria. Russell’s take on this classic has all of the usual traits of a good “Dunkles Märzenwhich is amber to dark in color (amber in this case) with a rich malt flavor and a clean finish. The only major difference is this Canadian interpretation is decidedly more hop filled than the German marzen, which isn’t a bad thing. Once again the Russell Brewmaster series hits a home run. One minor quibble is the only size available is a 650ml bottle which makes it hard to get it in to restaurants that aren’t willing to put it on tap. This is an issue I have with the Brewmaster Series in its entirety, a missed opportunity.

Next up is the clean and refreshing Pilsner from Gordon Biersch in San Jose, California. an area know more for Silicon Valley than beer. This isn’t a typical west coast craft beer, there’s hops but not a lot and it is very easy to drink. It’s a great summer beer that can also hold its own on a cold fall night. You’ll notice in the picture that I picked up a five pack…ya ya someone was thirsty before picture time. This beer gets bonus points for being distributed locally by my pals at Beerthirst, you should check out the great stuff they’re doing for the local  beer scene.

Stop drinking crappy beer!!!! You have no excuse.

Scott.

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Booze Reviews – Russell Brewing Company Brewmaster Series

Craft beer, really good craft beer, has been the sole property of the Pacific coast of the good old USA for a few years now. Enough hops to punch you in the face from the inside, Porters darker than night time at Mount St. Helens and every other bizarre infusion your could imagine have become commonplace in Washington. Oregon and Northern California. Canada has been left in the dust by a nation known for Bud Light and spray cheese.

Russel Brewing Company, located in Surrey, has posted a serious challenge to the supremacy of the Pacific North West of America with its Brewmaster Series. The only issue with these wonderfully crafted bottles and kegs filled with liquid gold is that they are limited quantity. From the Blood Alley ESB to the Black Death Porter every beer in this series is outstanding. My personal favorite is the Guuud! Ale designed specifically Kitanoya-Guu Izakaya restaurants as a palate cleanser.

Like I said these beers are limited quantity releases and are available at select private liquor stores including Central City in Surrey and Legacy Liquor Store in the athletes village. Get them before they’re gone, or contact Russell and demand they be put into full production!!!

Cheers

Scott.

Booze Reviews! Cocktails in a can

It’s a good thing when 2 days after a conversation about whether cocktails in a can exist they show up on your kitchen counter. They may not be the exact kind I was looking for but Jack Daniels and cola along with Jack Daniels and lemonade are close enough to the rum and cola that I was searching for. Why haven’t these pre-made drinks in a can existed until now? I don’t know but I’m glad they’re here.

Jack Daniels, as I’m sure most of you know, is a Tennessee Whiskey which is a type of bourbon made in…wait for it…Tennessee!! The Jack Daniels brand is arguably the most well known type of Tennessee Whisky and is very popular among the mixed drink crowd. The canned version of the popular JD and cola tastes just like it would if you mixed it yourself and a can comes in at a healthy 6% abv. There are 2 minor issues I have with this beverage, the first being that it was a little flat. I’m not sure what would cause the lack of carbonation but it would do this drink wonders. The second issue is that back when I was a young lad, in my early 20’s, I got sloppy drunk on JD and cola at the now defunct Marble Arch Gentleman’s Club and ever since I’ve had a problem with JD in general. The fact that I enjoyed this drink means that my aversion is weakening or I’m getting old.

The JD and lemonade was flat as well but that’s ok because lemonade is supposed to be flat. Overall these canned drinks surprised me with their apparent quality and lack of the chemical taste that plagues coolers and “hard” lemonades. I could see this replacing beer in my cooler on hot days at the cabin or playing softball because it’s more refreshing and less filling.

Yay for Booze Reviews!!!

Scott.

Potato Chip Showdown

Is this for real? A blog post about potato chips? It’s as real as a swift kick in the beans, and hopefully will show that while I enjoy writing about (and eating) really fancy things I am not a food snob. The humble potato chip is considered a major food group to those who watch a lot of sports on big screen HDTV’s and pairs well with wonderbread-esque mass produces lagers pumped out of mega factories the world over. The “store brand” chip has always been the ugly duckling of the dog eat dog chip market but Presidents Choice is aiming to crush those stereotypes by introducing bold, out of the box flavors.

The first of these unique flavors is BallPark Hot Dog. A thick cut ripple chip made with “hot dog, mustard and relish seasonings”. The term hot dog seasonings frightens me. These things actually tasted like hot dog. I’m not sure if I liked them though, I like hot dogs and I like chips but a hot dog flavored chip is a stretch. As with most bags of chip left open and unattended around me they did not last long. The actual chip was nice and thick and would have been great for dipping sans wiener flavor.

The second chip sampled, and by sampled I mean devoured and by devoured I mean I ate the whole bag, was Sweet Chili Thai. These were more along the lines of a traditional chip flavor, so much so that they probably should be called BBQ because that’s what they taste like. They were good but the name doesn’t suit the flavor. While I’m on the subject of “Sweet Thai Chili” flavored things…ENOUGH ALREADY!! Every restaurant has something on its menu with these 3 words in the title and quite frankly I’m getting sick of it. Sweet Thai Chili is to the new millennium as cilantro, mango salsa and Wolfgang Puck were to the 90’s.

So the title said showdown and this really wasn’t one. I had to get your attention somehow right? Long live chips and beer.

Scott.

Wine Down With Delta!

Wine, food and charity in a hotel/casino? Yep, life is rough… As I walked in to Wine Down With Delta at the Delta Burnaby Hotel the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound Of Music was playing in my head. This was my first event invite as “Media” so I wanted to keep a low profile, ha ha ya right! Low profile and Scott are not compatible.

Wine Down was in support of Habitat For Humanity which is an amazing charity that builds houses for low income families. It featured the 3 Greater Vancouver Delta hotels  and their respective restaurants and many BC wineries. Check out the pictures below and prepare to drool all over your keyboard. For the record my personal favorites were the chicken croquettes with black truffle puree from the Delta Burnaby, the lamb meatballs with chorizo from the Delta Vancouver Suites and the chilled Manhattan Gazpacho from the Delta Vancouver Airport.

Davidson Pitstop

I promised a while ago that I would try and write about more Fraser Valley restaurants and lately I’ve been to a few good ones. First was Five Doors Down in Whiterock and now after years of living 6 blocks away from it I have finally tried Davidson Pitstop. Located at 16225 Fraser Hwy in Surrey it  is a throwback burger joint with Harley Davidson motorcycle imagery dominating the theme, hence the name.

I’ve been told that the burgers here have been named best in Surrey but I’ve never personally seen that in writing. I asked what the best burger they was and I was told to order the deluxe with cheese and bacon. The burger patty itself was good, nice and juicy and not overcooked with a nice amount of seasoning and good texture. The cheese was of the processed American variety so no fireworks there and the bacon was thick cut and noticeable in both flavour and texture. The veggies were fresh but the bun failed to live up to the rest of the burger. It was a typical sesame burger bun that you can buy at the local grocery store and could have used a little time in a toaster.

The fries were double fried and hand cut and should have been quite good but they were over cooked in old oil causing them to be a dark brown color and quite greasy. Fries need to be cooked in fresh oil where as onion rings and other deep fried goodies actually benefit from used oil. Most restaurants have 2 fryers, one for fries and one for everything else so I’ll assume that Davidson Pit stop only has one.

So the overall verdict is a little mixed. The burger was good but let down by a mediocre, soggy bun and the fries would benefit greatly from some fresh oil. I’ll definitely go back though as this food is 10 times better than any fast food joint. Davidson Pitstop is a small tweak or 2 away from having a destination worthy burger.

Scott.

Great Pizza 2 for 1

It’s time for a shout out to a local favorite of mine. There are a ton of pizza places in my hood and they’re all pretty good, such as Royal Oak, but my regular pizza joint is Great Pizza 2 for 1. Now I’m not saying it’s the best pizza ever but it’s pretty good as far as bargain 2 for 1 pizza goes and it’s cheap, much like myself, good and cheap… Great Pizza, located at 15820 Fraser Hwy in Surrey, has been open roughly as long as I have lived here, 10 years or so.

There’s a big Hobart mixer in the back so I’ll assume they make their own crust which is average at best and the toppings are ok too. The cheese is not bad either…but man is it cheap! 2 large pizza’s with 2 toppings for under $20. On this particular visit i had a large Hawaiian and a large “Scott Special”, pepperoni and double cheese. Double cheese is actually DOUBLE cheese, it’s about as thick as a magazine!! Their Lasagna is actaully really good and the staff is efficient. There’s one person who I assume is an owner who knows me from day one and always wants to chat about life but if he’s not there it’s hard to get the rest of the staff to crack a smile. No matter though, I’m not there to chat, I’m there for pizza. If you’re in Fleetwood and need some cheap pizza you can’t really go wrong with Great Pizza 2 for 1, especially if you’re drunk and wandering the streets which is perfectly safe despite what you’ve heard about my fair city.

Scott.

Booze Reviews, Jura Superstition Scotch Whisky

Jura Superstition is a blend, there I said it, I am drinking blended Scotch. Usually I am a huge snob when it comes to Scotch Whisky, single malt only and nothing less than 12 years old unless it’s Ardbeg or Strathisla. Jura Superstition is my one and only exception to my own rules. Jura is a Scottish island located to the north east of the more famous island know as Islay. Islay and Jura are roughly the same size but Jura’s population is a mere 200. The Isle of Jura Distillery is the only one on the island and produces its own unique single malt whisky line ranging from 10 to 40 years old. Superstition is a blend of both old and new single malts which gives it a unique marriage of peat, smoke, sweet and spice that is unlike anything else I’ve had.

On the nose the peat is quite mild joined by mild smoke and a hint of orange zest. In the mouth the peat and smoke continue their mild ways and are joined by citrus notes and a distinct tobacco flavor that is very similar to a good Cuban cigar. The finish is long with more tobacco and smoke flavors. This is the ultimate pairing with a good cigar. The color is a rich amber.

All told this is a great blend for anyone looking to step away from the mild highland whisky’s and move up to something more sophisticated. It’s not a huge leap like a Lagavulin or Ardbeg would be for the casual Scotch drinker. Jura Superstition will make a nice addition to your  collection.

Cheers!

Scott.

Vancouver food bloggers, throwing stones and naming names.

Oh my goodness what a childish mess. For those of you who don’t already know there was recently a very “aggressive” post on a local food blog calling out all of the big players in the Vancouver food blogging community. It’s a long winded post but read the whole thing, it’s shockingly detailed with the writers opinions of other peoples blogs, their motives etc. Thankfully I was not a part of it seeing as I don’t blog for Urbanspoon and I really don’t give a rats ass how many people read my blog. That’s the real issue here, blogs as a business.

I write because I want people to have a laugh and find some good places to eat, not because I get free food (which does happen from time to time) or because I make money from my blog. I could put ads on my blog and to be honest I might at some point in the future but my main reasons for blogging have stayed the same since day one, I like to eat good food and want to share it with others. To name each and every person who you don’t think is “qualified” to write about food is very immature. The fact is that every single person on this planet likes to eat different things and to say someone shouldn’t be writing about food because they don’t like something is ridiculous.

As far as Urbanspoon goes I’m not interested in my ranking, it seems like a popularity contest, so I have decided that Urbanspoon isn’t for me. It works for some and that’s great but don’t criticize others because you don’t think they should be ranked higher than you. People read blogs because they are interested in their content and if they enjoy the content they will keep coming back for more. A blogs popularity means that people like it and to tell the readers that they’re wrong and shouldn’t like it because you say so is offensive. Free speech is a basic human right and I applaud Kim for having the courage to say what he was feeling but at the end of the day he looks like a spoiled little baby who can’t handle someone getting more attention then him.

I am a huge fan of EVERY Vancouver food blog and as a blogging community we offer the people of this city something truly special and I can’t wait to see future posts about great restaurants from great people. So to Richard, Raul, Melody, Sherman, Mijune, Erin, Diana, Mary, Ben, Suanne, and everyone else who writes about food in Vancouver, whether it’s for a blog, a website, a magazine or a news paper keep up the good work, haters are going to hate but the world keeps on eating.

Scott.

Booze free April, week one COMPLETE!!!

It’s been 7 days since I started my 30 day alcohol free April and things are progressing as planned. I almost cracked today but with some supportive tweets I pulled through… I didn’t anticipate this being hard but the after work beer seems a hard habit to break!

Wish me luck as I attend a friends birthday party tomorrow surrounded by beer and poker.

Scott.