Brewer's Blog

Fe-brew-ary Insanity!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Holy smokes, it's been a crazy month. Nicole and Tom have set up a boat load of events to beat the Winter Blah's. One thing I can say for sure is I'm not feeling them this year as badly as I have in the past. We've got windows in the brewery, and now that the sun's up a little earlier, I find I can come in, throw on a batch of beer, and by the time I'm done my breakfast, the brewery is bright enough to not need these terrible orange gym class lights.

Chris was kind enough to forward on his photos from our weekend in Regina so I can post them up. We drove out to Regina on Thursday morning (Feb. 5th). Thanks to all the Manitoba highway workers for finally twinning their little stretch of the number one. Special thanks to the Saskatchewan workers who pretty much did 4 times as far in the same time span. It really does make the drive pleasant, regardless of which ex-mountain dweller/new Manitoban you speak with.

On Thursday night, we had the pleasure of being the "show" at Beer Bros. Bakery & Cuisine, located in the Scarth Street mall dead center of downtown Regina. You've really got to know that you're in the right venue for beer when this is the attitude of the owners (see photo at left).

Being a high end, yet comfortably casual place has done the folks at Beer Bros. proud. We had a fantastic Brewer's Dinner that should make anyone jealous.

The event was held in their private room for 30 people total - no small feat when the restaurant was really hopping (pun intended).

First course up was an Amuse Bouche of Little Scrapper IPA Beer Battered Pickerel Cheeks served with Belgian Pommes Frites. Let it be known that there is something to be said for knowing what the hell to do when you're making proper frites. They were so crispy and tasty, I could've just sipped IPA and munched on those alone.

Second course was their cheeky version of Chicken Pot Pie. The mood was set by the Chef coming around and placing a Half Pints coaster at each place setting while explaining what earthly delights we were about to partake in. Classy.

These Caramelized Chicken Pint Pies were a blast to eat, and as you can see Brenda Falkenstein and I were loving the presentation. We had these served with Bulldog Amber Ale and the pairing was perfect.

Third course consisted of a Coriander Candied Seared Salmon on a bed of smashed potatoes and spinach puree. We had brought our new St. James Pale Ale as the pairing for this course and the chef came up with this all at the last minute after he tried the beer. I can hear him now "must drink beer to perfect recipe". Not a bad mantra if I do say so myself.

Fourth course was a fantastic Stir Stick Stout Braised Short Rib with a chocolate and stout sauce over a roasted beet hash. This by far was one of the highlights of the night. Served with the Stir Stick on the side, the ribs were fork tender and perfectly done.

Finally, the piece de resistance was the fifth course dessert of a Goat's Cheese and Caramelized Onion Cheesecake. A rich, caramelly, savoury delight if there ever was one and served with the Sweet Nikki Brown as a foil to the goodness of the caramel notes throughout.

All in all, as I said to Darren and the crew: for $50 plus taxes and gratuities, you'd never find a better way to spend the night. I swear that the meal in Winnipeg would've set you back $100 BEFORE drinks were added to the bill. Special thanks to the staff and all the attendees at this event. We're already making plans to do another one when I'm back in mid-April for the A.L.E.S. Club National Homebrew Competition.

Friday night, we kicked into high gear for the Festiv-Ale, Regina's annual beer festival put on in support of the Legion.

Here you see Gary Falkenstein and I pouring brews for the locals. Thanks for the help, too - Gary, as it made it a little easier to get out from behind the booth to try a couple of beers I'd been looking forward to.

Of specific note were the Mill Street Wit (possibly past it's prime but the spice flavours were there), the Dogfish Head 60 Minute (others I spoke with said this had a dodgy/spotty character depending on what bottle you had - the one I tried was excellent), and the Phillips Amnesiac (supposedly a Double IPA but quite soft for the style - maybe a little older too?). Regardless, finding beers of this caliber at the Festiv Ale is common and thankfully not the exception to the rule.

The beauty of this festival also lies in the fact that it's not all about beer, so everyone feels welcome. The food booths (non-existent at our own local Flatlander's Beer Festival) seem to go out of their way to offer something tasty. We were located beside the Nature's Own Sausage guys who gladly trade mixed skewers of sausages for beer. Hey, the taps are busy so you need sustenance.

Saturday afternoon, Gary, Chris and I headed over to the Bulk Cheese Warehouse for some tasty nibbles. I picked up a Truckles with Malt Whisky that is just wonderfully creamy and peaty to boot. I also got some Sticky Toffee Cheese (a fine little number Gary introduced us to) and they helped us find a washed rind soft cheese I can't for the life of me remember the name of, other than the fact that we wolfed it down Saturday night at Gary's with some wicked beers. The fellows at the Warehouse were also keen to make sure I tried their smoked steak and Bleu Cheese Butter sauce that evening at the fest. Worth it in Spades. We made my obligatory stop in to see Tony at the India Spice House. I got my Lalah's Curry Powder, some tandoori spice blend and a jerk chicken sauce I've yet to try. The Lalah's I've already made a Mulligatawny Soup with and plan on doing some more curries with for quick lunches at the brewery. Yummy!

Anyhoo, while we were gone, we heard that Jack at the Lo Pub straddled the Firkin of dryhopped St. James Pale Ale on top of his bar a-la Dr. Strangelove while Jarrod hammered the tap home. Pictures to follow...

All this and the month isn't even close to being done yet. We'll see our Alberta fans next week at Bottlescrew Bills 15Th Annual Beer Fest, and we'll be stopping in at a few accounts on a whirlwind tour of Alberta and Saskatchewan. Hope to see you all at the next events, as it always makes it more fun.

Brewmaster Dave

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