Whole Foods held their first Craft Beer event at the Fin & Pearl restaurant inside the Uptown store. Thirty guests were treated to two tasting flights of the finest local craft beer in town, a selection of their seafood dishes and some artisan cheeses.
Organized by Sarah Wagstaff, marketing and community relations for Whole Foods, Brewmasters’ Corner was led by Jeff Kendrew Category 12’s sales manager and Certified Cicerone. Kendrew walked people through the history of pale ales, provided tasting notes and answered questions throughout the two-hour event.
The menu was a delightful journey of increasing intensities and flavours, beginning with a malty Okanagan Springs Pale Ale paired along with Fin & Pearl’s own New England style clam chowder, where the carbonation helped cleanse the palate and cut through the thickness of the chowder with every drink.
This was followed by Russell Brewing’s Blood Alley Bitter, a nice hoppier version of a usually malty style, Category 12’s Critical Point Pale Ale, a lighter bodied, less malty, yet still quite hoppy pale ale, and Driftwood Brewing’s New Growth Pale Ale, a local favourite going back to Driftwood Ale with a nice balance of malt and hops, all served with Fanny Bay oysters offered with an apple cider mignonette, fresh horseradish, and Natural Value TM organic sriracha chili sauce.
British import Charles Wells Brewery’s Wells IPA, a standard British styled India Pale Ale with lots of malty character and earthier hops, was served up with Salt Spring mussels in a saffron and curry broth. This pairing was a nice acknowledgment to the origin of the IPA, using South Asian flavours in a nod to colonial times.
The crowd was then offered a tremendous pairing between the strong, hop driven character of Driftwood Brewing’s Fat Tug IPA with Mainland Cheese Vintage Cheddar, a grass fed cheddar cheese from New Zealand. The saltiness of the cheese helped to tone down the hops, and the savoury umami flavours played off the bitterness.
Category 12’s Award Winning Disruption Black IPA, a maltier, roasty version of a northwest IPA, was poured alongside Neal’s Yard Stichelton cheese – a strong, unpasteurized form of Stilton. Again, the carbonation played a significant role in this pairing, helping to break apart the cheese, and the strength of the flavours alongside each other made for an intense amount of flavour with every combination.
The last offering of the night was Category 12’s Rye Old Ale – a barley wine style ale, which is going to be released as a barrel aged version in the future – paired with an Uptown Poutine, made with hand cut fries, mushroom gravy, and local cheese curds. The combination of the sensations in the poutine, salty, savoury and full of body, along a stronger, sweeter and maltier beer like the Rye Old Ale made for a fantastic finish.
The food was excellent, and the event was entertaining whether it was your first experience with beer or you were a seasoned expert. Keep an eye out for future events taking place, as once the word starts to spread, tickets are likely to sell out fast.