What are your favourite summer flavours? Chances are they may come from your garden, neighbourhood restaurant or for the adventurous, be foraged from Lower Mainland wild spaces.
Maybe, like me, you’re a fan of fresh minty drinks (hello Mr. Mojito) or a beverage with a hint of evergreen like a gin & tonic throughout the summer months. Now what if these flavour profiles were translated into beer that you could pair with a fancy dinner, drink after a day of competitive bike polo or bring to that epic sunset BBQ on your friend’s killer patio?
“The variety of beer styles now available in restaurants encourages diners to choose beer as an accompaniment with their meal,” says R&B Brewing Co. Head Brewer, Todd Graham. “The Chef Series is intended to further stimulate one’s curiosity for beer and food pairing.”
Starting lat May and continuing into early fall, R&B will release five very different beers created by brewmaster Todd Graham and five of Vancouver’s top chefs: Chris Whittaker (Forage), Brian Skinner (Acorn), Robert Blecham (Campagnolo), Andrea Carlson (Burdock & Co.) and the late Owen Lightly of Butter on the Endive catering.
Participating chefs were asked to choose a beer style and unique ingredients that are personal favourites. Each beer reveals a little bit about each chef and pair perfectly with some of their signature dishes. Following the release of the first five beers in the Chef Series, a new list of chef collaborators will be announced.
Currently in stores, Whittaker’s Nettle, Mint and Ginger pale ale is gulp-worthy beer that will satisfy the mojito drinker or dark’n’stormy fan in your life. Made in a California common style, the beer is combined with 15 pounds of local nettle leaves, then finished with organic mint and fresh ginger root. This beer is currently being sold in a number of private Vancouver-area liquor stores.
Next up is Chef Skinner’s straight up evergreen pale ale made with locally foraged spruce tips that would pair well with cauliflower croquettes or glugs well after a bike polo victory. This beer is set to be released in July.
The burnt orange bitters filtered through pig bone charcoal is Chef Belcham’s contribution to the Chef Series goes well with Campagnolo’s tagliatelle or a big, BBQ’ed steak.
Chef Carlson’s beer is refreshing green tasting beer with sunchokes, burdock and mugwort that would be the perfect date for a bowl of gomae or a big, green salad.
Sadly, one of the chefs participating in the R&B Chef Series passed away on May 29, however his spirt of collaboration, creativity and passion for delicious west coast food will be reflected in his beer. Chef Lightly’s beer will be finished by his partner Naomi Horii and will evoke beaches of the BC coast and best drank alongside grilled halibut or sablefish.
The Chef Series comes in the 650ml bottle size and is sold at select private liquor stores. Each batch is only about 1200 litres according to Graham, so nab them while you can. To see a list of places selling the R&B Chef Series beers go here.
A tip: check the R&B website often or give them a call to see what been will be released next and then run, don’t walk, to the nearest participating liquor store. If the disappearing act of Chef Whittaker’s Nettle, Mint and Ginger Beer is anything to go by, the limited releases sell quick (as in gone in a day).
What’s your favourite local craft beer? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.