Dinner at Biercraft? With one of my favourite breweries as the pairings? Well, yes please! It’s no secret I like beer dinners. I love seeing how the chef pairs food with what is usually a wide array of beer styles and this Driftwood dinner was no exception.
One of the owners of Biercraft, Don Farion, spoke to the food pairing process and it was evident that a lot of time and sampling went into creating this menu. Ah, sampling good food and Driftwood beers – the necessary hazards of the job. Poor things….
At the commencement of each dish, Don would describe the dish and that was immediately proceeded by Jason Meyer of Driftwood lovingly depicting his beer. Jason’s passion for his beers is inspiring and even though I don’t understand the technical talk very well, I enjoy listening to him explain how each beer became part of the Driftwood family. I’m a Driftwood fan-girl but for a good reason – they make amazing beers. If you’re visiting the Victoria/Vancouver area, do yourself a favour and try their beers. You can thank me later.
Ok, enough gushing about my love-in for Driftwood, here is what we were treated to:
Lobster and corn veloute, srirvacha
Paired with: 2012 Sartori Harvest – American IPA, 7.0% ABV
I quite enjoyed this lobster dish and found that the corn and spices paired well with the hoppy Sartori. The only improvement to this could have been the temperature, as my dish was only luke-warm. This was a great pairing with the Sartori.
The Sartori. Ah, Sartori – I love you. This seasonal beer sold out all over the province within a day of hitting the shelves. At some liquor stores, within hours and that was with a one or two bottle per person limit at most stores (not like a couple of people I know who scored three cases from a naïve retailer…).
As Jason described this beer, it is almost 100% hand crafted. It’s a wet hopped beer and as soon as the hops are hand-picked, they’re immediately brought to the brewery and put in the kettle. This IPA can only be brewed once a year (sob), during hop harvest.
Steak tartare, boconccini salad, arugula, crustini
Paired with: 2012 Mad Bruin – Ouud Bruin; 7.0% ABV
A small amount of mustard and a few capers were mixed into the tartare, giving it a slight tang. It was well prepared and delicious on the house-made crustini. The green tomatoes and boconccini accompanied this dish well.
Mad Bruin is the second release from the Bird of Prey series and just hit the shelves last week. It’s a great sour brown ale and we’re definitely going to cellar a bottle this year. Jason commented that a sour is a good bridge for wine or cider drinkers as non-beer drinkers won’t necessarily relate it to beer. He’s even gone so far as to offer samples of it to skeptics and indicating it’s a cider-muffled-words-just-drink-it and when these naysayers like it, boom! Tell them it’s beer. Ah, I like your style, Jason.
White Bark cured sockeye salmon sushi roll, house made kimchi
Paired with: 2011 Bird of Prey Flanders Red; 7.5% ABV
The sushi rolls were tasty! I’ve been anti-soy sauce on my sushi for awhile (after hearing Japanese chefs ranting about it) but was told that the soy made the pairing with the Flanders Red that much better. I guess I missed out on that pro tip.
Jason dazzled us with more technical stuff with the Flanders Red creation. It was the first time the bourbon barrels had a sour in them so the flavour from the barrels was prominent. Re-using the barrels each year will lessen the bourbon barrel taste as more Brettanomyces (Brett) resides in the barrel. These little Yeastie Boys latch onto the barrel and hop into the next batch that’s brewed. Ok, Jason’s explanation was way more succinct and accurate, but you get the picture. There’s currently a second generation Flanders Red in barrels right now and I wish we’d cellared one of the 2011 for comparison.
Soy glazed beef tenderloin, roasted endive, Indian carrots, celeriac puree
Paired with: Farmhand Ale – Saison; 5.50% ABV
Tender, rare and succulent beef was what we were treated to. The celeriac puree was a nice change from potatoes and note to parents, you might even fool your kids into eating celery by pureeing them as they are a mashed potato doppelganger. This dish paired well with the pepperiness of the saison.
The Farmhand Ale is made with the same yeast used by Belgian brewery La Chouffe (another tidbit from Jason) and it sings of fruit and peppery spices. It’s perfect to pair with beef.
Peanut butter espresso semi-freddo, minted cream, malt caramel
Paired with: 2012 Singularity – Russian Imperial Stout; 11.6% ABV
I’m not sure what dessert wouldn’t pair well with the beauty that is Singularity however, this dessert definitely worked. The espresso is a no-brainer to pair with an imperial stout as it pulls out even more coffee notes in the beer. The mint worked but I preferred the caramel flavours with this stout.
The inside-the-brewer’s-head notes on this one informed us that the name Singularity (a la The Big Band Theory) was picked before the beer. Well, if you’re looking for a big bang, this 14% imperial packs one. Full of robust flavours and one of my favourites. Shhhh, don’t tell anyone but we still have three cellared. Once we have four or five years of this exquisite stout, we’ll have a vertical tasting. Treasure this gem if you can find it.
The Biercraft team of chefs, servers and menu creators outdid themselves and served us a decedent meal. They poured generous samples of each beer, with top-ups, and kept the evening flowing between courses. Kudos to the entire team for a great evening!
And it goes without saying that it’s always a treat to get the brewer to attend the dinner and give us some insight into why and how the beers were brewed. I still recall Jason’s comment from a dinner in February when he said he only brews what he likes and if that doesn’t appeal to the masses, oh well. I have great respect for him and this honest opinion. He’s an artist and these are his creations – and man, can he create. Once again, I bow to you, Jason. We need to make a trip back to Victoria soon to visit Driftwood and Victoria’s other great breweries (Lighthouse, Hoyne, Phillips, Vancouver Island) but I bet I’ll get the best cappuccino from Jason’s crew…
The cost for this dinner was $75 CAMRA member/$80 non-CAMRA member. It’s more expensive than most of the beer dinners in the city, but they had no problem selling out. Check their web site or follow them on Twitter/Facebook to get information on their next dinner.