Last week Beerthirst, an independent agent of craft beer, hosted a pairing dinner at Ensemble Tap in downtown Vancouver. A fan of a good beer pairing dinner, John and I signed up for the event that featured four courses with four American IPAs.
I had been to Ensemble Tap before for events but never to dine so I was looking forward to Chef Bradley Hendrickson’s creations. Before each course, the Beerthirst team would introduce the beer and Chef Brad would follow up by explaining his dish and why it is a good fit for the brew.
IPAs (India Pale Ales) branch off of pale ales and are typically packed with more hops — along with a higher alcohol content. The first one poured at the dinner was the Elysian Avatar Jasmine IPA, which John and I had sampled at Elysian Brewing in Seattle during one of our recent trips. Floral notes dance around your tongue and soften with a hint of citrus. Chef Brad’s pairing was a dungeness crab salad with canteloupe, zucchini, lime, and jasmine cream. Fragrant, light, and crisp from both the glass and the plate.
The second beer was Green Flash Brewing Company‘s Le Freak. Malt and yeast playing a bigger role, it was paired with Chef Brad’s roasted potato gnocchi with smoked pork belly, mushrooms, and tomato concasse. The pairing was spot-on with the earthy tones of the potato gnocchi and mushrooms playing perfectly with the full bodied brew.
Bear Republic‘s Racer 5 was paired with the main course. Smooth, mellow, with hints of grapefruit and caramel. It was paired with Fraser Valley braised pork cheeks, crispy tofu, ginger confit, pork-dashi broth, and green onion. This was a million miles away from a typical “burger and beer” combination. I love broths and combinations of meat and tofu. The ginger played with the grapefruit notes in the beer, and the tender pork melted in your mouth.
Last but not least, the Alameda Yellow Wolf Imperial IPA led us into dessert. In case you’re wondering, beer does in fact pair with dessert. If you don’t believe me, a Howe Sound King Heffy and a slice of banana cream pie will change your mind. A simple lemon mousse with fresh raspberries and candied zest on a lemon Szechuan pepper cake rounded out the meal. The lemon was pucker-worthy but was instantly subdued the Yellow Wolf.
Following the meal there was a raffle prize draw with t-shirts, coasters, and big gift bags handed out to attendees. Tickets for the event were $50 — for the full four course, four pairing experience. The Beerthirst crew hosts dinners quite often with the next one (Craft Beer Patio Party at Fogg N’ Suds) coming up August 11, 2012. Follow them on Twitter for more information.
Beerthirst has a list of places that carry “Beerthirst” brands such as these and you can find all of the beers from the dinner at Ensemble Tap and many other restaurants and pubs. There is also a variety of craft beer available at Brewery Creek Liquor Store, Legacy Liquor Store, and Viti Wine and Lager.