Vancouver International Wine Festival, Victoria Beer Week, my first Empire Donut. All around, it’s been a pretty great few weeks. Find Empire Donuts at Oak Bay’s new Hide + Seek Coffee, 2% Jazz Coffee, Picnic Coffee, Shatterbox and more spots around town. empiredonuts.ca for locations. I started with an old fashioned, a perfectly textured cake donut with a subtle vanilla flavour.
As for the Wine Festival, I used four glasses over two days, a small part of the 82,000 glasses that are used to serve 1,470 wines. Each year there’s a theme country, on which the wineries and seminars are centered; this year was Italy. In 2017, it will be Canada for the first time in 20 years. It’s worth a trip to Vancouver for the International Festival Tasting room floor alone. Mark your calendar for Feb. 11 to 19. Discover regions, grapes, winemaking style and terroir with winemakers and viticulturists multiple generations into the romantic, exhausting, sensory overload that is the art of growing and making wine. Shop the onsite BC Liquor Store to have wines delivered to your local store after the festival. A fundraiser supporting performing arts since 1979, the VIWF has raised $8.5 million.
Here at home, Victoria Beer Week was a smash hit. I tried dozens of new, rare and old favourites at the Brewers’ Brunch, Saturday Cask Night, Prima Strada Beer & Pizza pairing, Beer & Cheese, and a great new event, Lift Off!, launching 12 new beers to close out the week. Driftwood’s Crooked Coast Altbier was a stand out pairing with a spicy pulled pork pizza with apricot, coconut yogurt and fresh Thai basil at Prima Strada. Cask Night favourites were Sunshine & Hoppiness, a Belgian Golden Ale from Hearthstone Brewery of North Vancouver; Carmen the Tart, a mixed-style sour from Strange Fellows, and Category 12’s Wild Pale Ale – watch for their Wild IPA launching soon. If you love cask beers and the creativity that comes with them, follow social media for Hank’s Restaurant, Smiths Pub, The Garrick’s Head, and The Drake Eatery for cask nights. Beer & Cheese was so fun, if this event comes back next year, get tickets early. Hundreds of pounds of cheese from Hilary’s Cheese, Charelli’s Cheese Shop and Salt Spring Island Cheese Co., were sliced, crumbled, spread and paired up with a great mix of beers. Phillips Odyssey Nitro Porter (complete with widget when you get it in tall cans) was tasty with a smoked cheddar. At Lift Off!, Spinnakers Spirit Merchants pop-up shop had event goers getting beers before they were for sale elsewhere. I loved the Sucker Punch Citra Sour from Swans, Yellow Dog’s Go Fetch Hoppy Saison, and Salt Spring Island Ale’s Rye IPA.
Try it you’ll like it:
• Unruly Gin made with honey, from Courtenay’s Wayward Distilling, available in private liquor stores.
• 2014 Oldfield Series Chardonnay from Tinhorn Creek Vineyards. Join the Crush Club to get this wine club exclusive offering, their first from newly designated Sub-Appellation, The Golden Mile.