Tag Archives: Cannery

I Love Beer! I Love Chocolate! Chocolate Beer …I Love You

 

In case you missed the title, this post is all about the union of two of the best food groups in the world -beer and chocolate. To honour this joining, my sweetie and I attended Firefly Fine Wines and Ales beer and chocolate tasting and (over)indulged in a flight of eight beers paired with a trio of chocolates from Cocoa Nymph Chocolates & Confections.

 

Now wait a minute beer and chocolate? Together? Can that work? Survey says a resounding yes. If you stop and think about it beer and chocolate are not that dissimilar with their composition of sweet and bitter elements. Chocolates can be sweet and milky, bitter and roasty, enhanced with herbs and spices and this is equally true for beers. We already know how well chocolate works when it is brewed into robust stouts and coffee porters so it was fun to see what happens when you put the two together in a tasting session.

 

 

The Chocolate Line-Up

Classic Dark Nymph – 64% dark chocolate with a subtle bitterness.

Sea Nymph – 64% dark with fleur de sel and toffee.

Twilight Nymph – 45% creamy milk chocolate.

Urban Nymph – 45% milk chocolate with coffee and caramelized cocoa nibs.

Garden Nymph – Rich white chocolate with tart dried cherries

 

 

The Beer Line-Up

Coney Island’s Albino Python – Lager meets hefeweizen; strong notes of ginger and fennel balanced with malt.

Tin Whistle’s Chocolate Cherry Porter – Light bodied Porter with lots of fruit on the nose.

Mort Subite Framboise –Bright, sweet lambic with a hint of tartness.

Youngs Double Chocolate – Rich chocolate nose and roast flavour with a bitter finish.

La Vache Folle Imperial Milk Stout – Lots of malt and yeastiness on the nose with a creamy mouthfeel.

Rogue Hazelnut Nutbrown Ale –Ton of nuttiness on the nose, clean and sweet to drink.

Cannery Brewing Maple Stout – Way too syrupy for the amount of body. Intensely sweet.

R&B Brewing Spirit Coffee Porter – Subtle coffee nose, tepid with a bit of a bitter finish.

 

 

Each taster glass was sampled with three pieces of chocolate chosen to draw attention to how different qualities in the beer are altered when paired with chocolates. At times I had difficulty discerning whether I did not like the taste of a particular beer or particular chocolate or the combination of the two but through some trial and error I perfected the technique of sipping the beer, then water, a bit of chocolate, then water, and finally the two together. It was hard work but someone had to step up!

 

Some of the pairings that worked particularly well include: Chocolate Cherry Porter and the Urban Nymph, Albino Python and Twilight Nymph, Mort Subite Framboise and Garden Nymph, Youngs Double Chocolate and Urban Nymph, Imperial Milk Stout and Twilight Nymph, and Hazelnut Nutbrown Ale and Twilight. A notable few that did NOT work well include: Spirit Coffee Porter and Garden Nymph, Hazelnut Nutbrown Ale and Urban Nymph, and Albino Python and Garden Nymph.

 

 

Overall thoughts on the evening: Some beers like the lambic and the maple stout are so flavourful that pairing is challenging since the beer can completely dominate the chocolate. White chocolate was particularly tough to pair successfully while the dark chocolate went well with everything but did little to enhance any of the beers. When pairing beer and chocolate complementary elements seemed to work best as opposed to drawing out bitterness with sweetness. The heavier the beer the more amicable it was to various pairings while the flavours in the lager were noticeably altered by each chocolate. Some pairings just did not work diminishing the tasting experience of both the beer and the chocolate but when it worked it was fantastic.

 

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Behind the Keg …A New Angle on the Beer Fest

My Kegs

Hi, my name is Sara, long-time patron, first time volunteer. Yesterday I attended Central  City Brewing’s Winter Cask Festival and for the first time ever I took up post behind the keg as a volunteer server. My partner and I headed over to Central City a bit early to sample a few of the casks before our shifts started. Nice turnout of local, BC and Washington State brewers with casks coming from Central City (of course), Storm, Tofino Brewing, Parallel 49, Cannery, Salt Spring Brewing, Spinnakers, Port Townsend and Boundary Bay just to name a few. Central City was packed to rafters with every conceivable inch of space taken up by a beer geek, a table of beer geeks or a row of kegs and a server. Beers were mapped out by style in small stations circling the pub.

The Scotch Ales

One of the great things about beer fests is they afford brewers a chance to try something really creative in a relatively small sample; for instance, Parallel 49 offered a Campfire Smores Stout, Spinnakers had a Peppercorn Saison and Canoe an Asian Fusion Pale Ale. As a patron it is fun to try some of these more challenging flavour combinations in a small pour instead of committing to a whole pint or god-forbid an entire six pack. Often these out-there beers are something I would only want in a small sample as they probably wouldn’t make their way into my regular rotation. Some of the stand-outs for me were Tofino Brewing’s Bourbon Coffee Porter, Russell’s JD Barrel Aged Scotch Ale, Canoe’s Asian Fusion Pale Ale (think ginger and pear), Lighthouse Houblonic Plague and for something clean and easy on the palate Steamworks Pilsner.

ESB's and IPA's

So will I be offering up my skills as a beer server at another beer fest? Absolutely. It was so much fun being behind the scenes chatting with brewers, servers and fellow beer geeks. The volunteers were treated very well by the folks at Central City, we were fed, given t-shirts, admission and tokens. Everybody seemed to be having a really good time, which made the 3.5 hour shift fly by in no time. Working the keg allowed me to gleam invaluable on-fly-assessments of the different beers as well as being to privy to opinions on everything from the best place to shop for beer cross-border, how to open a new brewery, fashion advice and everything in between. In the same way that brewing your own beer only heightens your appreciation for the craft, I would highly recommend that every beer enthusiast tries their hand at working the taps at least once it really does give you an entirely different perspective on how beer fests are organized and run. Cheers to the folks at Central City for a great event!

The Assorted Room


Warming up for the Firefly Craft Beer Tasting Night

This is not so much one review but rather an overview of my sampling of several beers in an attempt to broaden my palette before attending the craft beer tasting at Firefly Fine Wine and Ales.  Worried about appearing like a beer ‘rookie’ in a sea of cicerones I had a couple of friends over to assist me in a little research ie. ordering pizza and drinking beer.   With all good intentions to carefully document the evening I instead found myself staring at a counter full of empty bottles trying to recall the differences between beer 1 and beer 10.  So instead of doing a disservice to any of the bevies I tried I am going to offer some thoughts on what I liked…I think…If I remember correctly.

We commenced the evening with a ‘What the Huck’ Huckleberry wheat ale from Fernie Brewing Co – great name!  Yet another summer fruit varietal this one being more on the tart than sweet side.  The liquid is, well, the colour one might expect from a berry beer slightly purplish with a golden undertone.  This ale is very light only 5% making it a nice starter beer for the night.  We followed up with Brooklyn Local 2 a nice crisp ale with honey and citrus peel.  It almost has a flavour like a Hefeweizen but based in strong ale.  The honey flavour was nice and mild, not overpowering, and in the glass the beer is a dark orange-red hue with a dark foam head.   At the same time we cracked Cannery Brewing’s Apricot Wheat Ale which I enjoyed but was not blown away with.  Apricot is a subtle flavour and competing with the Brooklyn Local 2 I found I was not drawing a lot of taste from this beer – but to be fair had I tried this first off my opinion may have swayed.  Moving right along, the White Bark Wheat Ale from Driftwood Brewery and just to get this out up front –this beer has a fantastic label, as do all the Driftwood beers.  This white beer puts itself up against the myriads of Belgian style wit beers on the market and it fairs well against the competition.  Not to overstate the obvious but I like white beers and this did not disappoint.  It remained cloudy in the glass, nice head, and a good ‘bite’ from the coriander and orange – I personally like that these elements play against creamy texture of white ale.  So my astuteness tends to slip slide a little downhill after this as I moved onto to a couple entries from Hitachino Nest, the Weizen and the White Ale.  While I usually really enjoy this brewery I was disappointed with the Weizen.   The beer had a really odd sweet and sour quality to it that I did not enjoy almost like it should have been drunk as an aperitif.  The white ale on the other hand was good -granted at that point in the evening my vocabulary did not extend much past this beer good that beer bad- not the best white beer but not the worst; it claims to have nutmeg so if you like ginger snaps give it a go.

Now a word or two from the dark side, I am a lightweight not only in amount I can drink but also in the strength and viscosity of my beers so my obliging better half took on Pretty Things Sylvan Stout by Pretty Things Beer and Ale, the Raven’s Eye Imperial Stout (Organic) by Eel River Brewing Company, and Madrugada Obscura Dark Dawn Stout by Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales.  Coincidentally enough he ranked them 1, 2, 3 in the order listed.  Some further thoughts…Pretty Things was a java stout, heavy on the coffee but not a thick stout, while Raven’s Eye was similar with less obvious coffee overtones.  The Madrugada Obscura on the other hand was very unique it had a fermented ‘bubbly’ quality, which is somewhat challenging in a stout.  Being the last beer of the evening it may have unfairly been given the short shrift but hey whatcha gonna do?


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