Jill: Peter Pan and his lost boys sit at a long table to eat imaginary food. Robin Williams’ Peter lobs an empty spoonful at Rufio and a colourful plop of icing hits him between the eyes. Suddenly every dish on the table is filled with delicious looking food, and of course one of the best food fight scenes in cinematic history unfolds. The launch dinner for Stanley Park Brewing’s WinterGlow Mandarin IPA was as enchanting, with a lot less food flying at faces. We were greeted at the door of the Stanley Park Pavilion with a glass of the new beer, duck confit hors d’oeuvres, a real crackling fire, and the anticipation of what was to come.
Shawna and I sipped at the new brew, trying to figure out where the long tables were that we were supposed to have dinner at. While we took stock of the room we discussed the beer; mandarin and hops, a new combination. For two birds who enjoy our thick, dark winter beers, the WinterGlow brought on thoughts of a rare sunny April day, enjoyed after amending the garden soil, feet up, gloves off, not the expected curl up in front of a fire with a good book. We both agreed it was a tasty combination, but not what we would instinctively choose for a winter beer.
A warm welcome speech was made and suddenly doors to our right were opened to reveal three long tables, as promised. We found our seats, happy to be next to fellow beer blogger Mike Garson and his fiancee Amber. A speech ensued about the origins of this new beer, how mandarin oranges invoke thoughts of Christmas. Then some food with slightly mismatched pairings …. My brain unfortunately gets fuzzy on details here, but the Ratatouille and Pilsner were spot on, and the chicken pairing we disagreed on, but I remember them being compatible, and I enjoyed the way the beer complimented the slight smokey flavour of the poultry.
Shawna: Enter me! I took detailed notes on my beer and food pairings, but first allow me to expand on why Stanley Park has chosen to do a Mandarin IPA instead of a warmer type beer that is usually put out in the winter months. Brewmaster Todd gave us insight at the dinner explaining that he loves what beer can do for the occasion, and when it came time to plan a beer for the winter months, he was inspired by the memory of finding a mandarin orange in a stocking on Christmas morning. The WinterGlow is an American style IPA (6.4% ABV, 55 IBU) with lots of refreshment and it brings some brightness to the usual fall and winter beers. I’ll truthfully say I was surprised that an IPA was the choice for a winter beer (especially since I LOVED the Ice Breaker) but the Christmas mandarin association explained a lot, and it also gives you more option if you’re not a fan of the heavy and sweeter beers that winter time can bring!
Now, on to the food!
Our appetizer pairings were a Watermelon Salad with the Noble Pilsner, and a Broccoli and Grape Slaw with the WinterGlow IPA. The salad and the pilsner were a lovely match, the sweetness of the watermelon really turned the pilsner into an exceptionally smooth beer. We learned very quickly however that broccoli and IPA do not mix. The salad was fantastic on it’s own, but a bitter veggie with a hoppy beer are not friends.
Our main courses were as follows:
BBQ Chicken Legs with Windstorm Pale Ale, Steelhead En Papillote with WinterGlow IPA, Roasted Baby Potatoes with Foghorn IBA, and Ratatouille with the Noble Pilsner
As Jill said above the Ratatouille and Pilsner were paired perfectly together, easily the best match of the evening. The chicken with the Windstorm was also fantastic. The bold flavours of the burnt and char really hit it home with the Windstorm. The salmon and the WinterGlow was a much better pairing than the broccoli salad, and the potatoes with pilsner brought our a richness in the beer. I personally preferred the potatoes with the Windstorm.
Our dessert was a Grapefruit Pana Cotta with the Windstorm and it was phenomenal. Cut out the bitterness that I find pale ales have and was just a fantastically crafted dessert. It also paired well with the WinterGlow!
Jill: While Hook portrays a fun-filled evening of throwing colourful goo, the Stanley Park Brewing Winter Glow launch dinner was a grown-up evening of enchantment. It was an entertaining night talking beer and eating delicious food.
Shawna: So much fun! I had no idea there was such a gorgeous dining room in the Stanley Park Pavilion, I loved the idea of the long table dinner as it gave you a chance to socialize with people you might not meet otherwise. The food and beer pairings were fantastic and the WinterGlow is going to be a treat for all this season!