My favourite beer pairing is: friends. However, unless we revert to cannibalism on a daily basis, this motto is better suited for social situations. And we still have to eat.
Jocelyn and I were invited to Lucky’s Liquor Store’s new “Brews-n-Bites” series—not to be confused with the ’Fifty Shades of Grey Bruise-n-Bites’ gatherings—designed to showcase the pairing of craft beer and innovative food. Or, someone knowledgeable about beer pours you a glass, and talks about the wort, sweat, and tears that went into it, and you try not to slam the entire glass back before a hand-working chef admonishes you for not waiting for the food.
First up: Persephone Brewing, from Gibsons, on the Sunshine Coast, a community made famous in part by a character named ‘Relic.’ The brewery was named after the tugboat from the Beachcombers TV show (check the accompanying video if you don't believe me!); word on the water suggested that the original name for the enterprise was “Beachcomber Brewery,” but Vancouver Island Brewery’s Beachcomber Summer Ale had already laid claim to the name in BC craft beer market.
(Upon further reflection, ‘Persephone Brewing’ has a sweeter ring than ‘Gerussi Ales.’)
I haven’t visited the brewery yet, but it’s on the must-visit list for its environment and environmental awareness: it earns its ‘beer farm’ moniker honestly.
From Farm to Table
There were about 20 of us seated around Lucky’s long table in their mezzanine: Sean and Alexandria were there; my cousin Brandon and his wife Kelly were there; Debbie, on a rare off-night, was able to tear herself away from the Bruins game for a couple of hours; Jocelyn put up with me—even Nick, the all-star of the monthly Lucky’s Beer Club, was hungry and ready to question all of the hop varieties from his seat at the centre of the table, unmistakable with his cross-border drawl and sly suggestions for refills. (We see eye-to-eye.)
First welcomes came from the host and cook, Nikki Beach. He’s a new face at Lucky’s & has also been a circus performer—actually!—which set us up for some successful plate juggling and overall gregariousness. It also made him well versed to deal with us clowns.
Persephone is represented on Vancouver Island by Duncan McIntyre. He was great, and here’s why: I’ve seen beer reps who know their own beer, or only want to talk about their own beer, and it ends there. Duncan gave us the low-key low-down on all of the Persephone beers, but didn’t shy from talking about other beers when asked. His knowledge via side work at the Drake—one of the Victoria’s best taprooms—shone through.
Five Servings & Five Pairings
- Persephone Panko Prawns + Golden Goddess Ale: you’ve probably had beer-battered fish, but what about beer-breaded prawns? Nicely spicy, balanced perfectly with the clean finish from the Goddess. Great aftertaste for a lighter beer.
- Dagwood Sandwich + Hop Yard Red Ale: welcome to the meat market, a massive sandwich actually named after Dagwood Bumstead. Meat ‘n bread ‘n veggies 'n garlic butter appealed to our gluttonous sides, and the red ale was outstanding—I’m a big fan of hoppier ales, and while it doesn’t quite get into my beloved CDA category, everyone at the table appreciated the balance.
- Curry Meatballs + IPA: Fire! Fire! Fire in the pan! Out of the fire pan and into the friar(‘s mouth) went these spicy meatballs, mamma mia. You probably already knew IPAs were great for cutting through spice, so this was a perfect pairing.
- Autumn Soup + Noble Wheat Ale: the reportedly fast-selling Noble Wheat was the biggest (pleasant) surprise of the night: beautiful banana-clove flavours that took me back to the daze of German beer halls. I sipped from my spoon with spilling; a first.
- Mushroom Chevre Tart + Black Lager: dark, earthy flavours for dessert; perfect for an October evening.
The Persephone beers were solid all across the board—and we didn’t even sample their pale ale, which won Best in Show at the 2016 Okanagan Fest of Ale. As a very special bonus, those of us in attendance had first dibs to Persephone’s brand-new fresh-hopped red ale. Sean and I battled viciously to claim the first bottle, and I’m still pulling shards of glass from my skull two weeks later, but that’s just how dedicated we are to the Craft Beer revolution and inflating one’s Untappd numbers.
In recap: Nikki’s creativity as a cook and energy and humour as a host was appreciated, as was Duncan’s knowledge about the brews. Each food offering added something different to what could have been traditional recipes. And those friends I mentioned? Conversation was robust due to the diversity of the beers and the ingenuity of the food. Nick approved. No cannibalism required.
I was gifted a ticket to this event in exchange for jumping on the typewriter and hacking out a recap but the thoughts, attempts at humour, and opinions are my own. For instance: I’m not a fan of the Bruins.