I only managed to get to one Vancouver Craft Beer Week event this year, and that was “Sisters of the Tap”. This was a celebration of the leading ladies in the local craft beer scene, and was held at Ensemble Tap.
Each of the ladies involved gave a bit of a talk about their biers, but unfortunately the sound system didn’t allow anyone seated upstairs to hear a single word. Luckily some of the ladies visited our table during the evening for a brief chat.
The evening started with a glass of Saltspring Island Elderflower Golden Ale.
This bier was served from a cask, and poured a cloudy orange with no head. The aroma was passionfruit with touch of pine. It had a medium body, no carbonation, and a somewhat piney finish. The flavours were wheat, passionfruit and spruce.
Next up was the Townsite Zunga Golden Blonde Ale.
The was accompanied by some local artisan cheese capapés.
The Townsite Zunga Golden Blonde Ale was a clear pale gold colour with a small pale head. The aroma was walnut, caramel, damp laundry. It was light on the palate with a nutty aftertaste and a hint of bitterness. The flavours are bread and walnut.
The canapés were a good accompaniment, the goats cheese and walnut was especially tasty and complimented the bier.
The next bier was the Howe Sound 4 Way Fruit Ale.
This was paired with a Dungeness Crab roll.
The Howe Sound 4 Way Fruit Ale is a cloudy orange with virtually no head. The aroma is nice and fruity – passionfruit, peach, apricot, hint of fresh grass and mint. It has a crisp mouthfeel, sweet on the palate, and a good body contributed by the wheat which gives it some depth and citrus tang in the finish. The flavours that came to mind for me were are peach, apricot, passionfruit, coriander, mandarin (although the actual fruits used were passionfruit, mango, raspberries and pomegranates). It is a great summer bier, tasty and refreshing while still having some character.
The Dungeness Crab was in a daikon roll with Mexican spice and accompanied by a mango pureé and corn salsa. This was delicious and paired excellently with the fruit character of the bier.
The next bier was Big River Vienna Lager.
This was paired with Slow Baked BC Halibut.
The Big River Vienna Lager pours a clear amber with a small pale head. The aroma is wet grass, grain and honey. It has a crisp lager taste, is well balanced and has a slightly malty finish. The flavours are caramel and malt. This was a quite enjoyable bier.
The Slow Baked Halibut was served on a bed of English peas, pearl onions, tarragon, pea shoots and fresh horse radish. The fish was tender and had quite a subtle flavour, most of the flavour of this dish coming from the supporting greens. It seemed to pair well with the Vienna lager.
Next up was the Spinnakers Hoptoria.
This was paired with a Braised Beef Shin.
The Spinnakers Hoptoria pours a clear amber with a minimal pale head. The aroma is fresh hops and hint of caramel. It is very hoppy on the palate with a hint of toffee in the background, and a bitter finish. The flavours are toffee, spruce and camomile. I found this bier a little too hoppy for my liking and a little one dimensional.
The beef shin was served with smoked tomato, pomme pureé and green asparagus. This was a truly excellent dish but I struggled to gain anything from the bier pairing. I’d love to try this dish with a smoky brown ale or porter rather than a hop-centric bier.
The next bier was the Crannog Back Hand of God Stout.
This was served along with a nice selection of chocolates from Urge Chocolates.
The Crannog Back Hand of God Stout was a great beer for dessert. It pours black with a small pale head. The aroma is burnt straw, liquorice, vanilla and hint of coffee. It has a medium body, and is slight smoky with a roasty finish. The flavours are coffee, toast, dark chocolate and a hint of liquorice.
The 3 types of chocolate provided – salted caramel chocolate, 55% cocoa nibs, and black pepper chocolate – were all very tasty. What blew me away here was the pairing of the black pepper chocolate with the stout. This was definitely the best pairing of the night and a real eye-opener for me. The sweet chocolate combined with the spiciness of the pepper brought out characters of the stout that you wouldn’t otherwise notice.
Finally to wrap up the evening was a glass of R&B Orange ESB.
This bier pours a cloudy orange with a small pale head. The aroma is orange, passionfruit, and apricot. It is somewhat thin on the palate with a bitter citrusy finish. The flavours are orange, grapefruit and spruce. I was a little disappointed with this as a closer, and it seemed a little strange for this to follow a complex stout.
Overall this was a great night with some good biers and fantastic dishes which generally paired well. Kudos to the lovely ladies that were involved in the making of these brews and it was great to have the chance to meet some of them. One thing that would have made it better for me would have been if there was an information sheet that gave a little background on the night’s biers and the “Sisters of the tap” that were involved, especially since it was easy to miss the speeches.