Follow Me Foodie’s Recap of the 1st Annual Brewery & The Beast in Vancouver, BC!
So you thought how much seafood I could eat in 48 hours was good? Wait until you see how much meat I can eat in 3… uhh that sounded a lot better in my head. Okay, stop it. Anyway it was the 1st Annual Festival of Meat – Brewery & The Beast in Vancouver, BC and it was freaking fantastic! The anticipation was like Christmas. I kept seeing the tweets and I felt like every restaurant in the city was on board. It was a festival for carnivores featuring all you can eat meat and all you can drink beer. I probably ate 1/3 cow, 1/3 of a pig, 1/4 lamb, 1/2 a chicken, 1/8 of a duck and 1/1000 of a bison. This was a meat marathon.
In a time where the vegetarian movement is gaining momentum, it is rare to come across events promoting meat. Generally speaking, meat sales are down and people are eating healthier and welcoming vegetarian focused menus and diets. All the power salads to you, but let’s not forget about our local farmers who still need to put their kids to school. Let’s also not forget that there is such a thing as ethically raised, all natural, organic, and sustainable meats, so this whole “Vegetarian VS Carnivore” thing can relax a bit. Each have their place and we can celebrate both at the same time without making either into “a thing”. Besides, vegetarians and/or vegetables already get their celebration in Vancouver, and it’s every week too! It’s called the Vancouver Farmers Market and yes, I went there before coming to this.
On that note, this post is going to take the tone of a meat-eater, because I am one. I’m not a hardcore carnivore, but I like meat and I eat it. I also like seafood, vegetables, wine and desserts, and I’m a a fan of good food done right. I support businesses, farmers, producers and chefs who are passionate and good at what they do, and it was exciting to have so much talent and energy in one space.
Brewery & The Beast was a 19+ outdoor event which took place on Sunday June 16th from 1:00pm – 4:00pm at the Concord Pacific Place parking lot in Vancouver. It was fun to get into the meat-eating spirit and 800 others joined, but it never felt like 800 people at once.
Based on my experience, line ups at each station were maybe a 5-8 person wait, if even, and there was more than enough meat and beer to satisfy even the biggest appetites.
Tickets were $82.95 for good quality all-you-can-eat meat and beer and it was well worth it.
There were 30+ stations featuring some of the city’s favourite restaurants and chefs, and I didn’t even know where to start. I already knew I was going to try them all and I had 3 hours to complete my mission. Mission impossible? Not unless they ran out… but they didn’t.
Note: Due to the nature and context of the event I’m not going into detail about the food. The items may or may not be representable of what the restaurant/chef can do on a regular day.
How much meat can I eat in 3 hours?
Bull Chip House and Meating Place is in Gibsons, BC and I haven’t been there yet, but it was nice to meat them. “Blah blah blah BACON yada yada”… you know how I feel about the bacon band wagon, but I still like it. It just has to be good quality, used with proper application, and well executed.
It was hipster road kill… meaning it looked like plaid. Kudos for the knitting and the entire sheet was crispy. It was a “BLT” without the carbs, so instead of bread they used bacon and sandwiched lettuce and tomato inside.
“Please let it be the burger. Please let it be the burger.” I had my fingers crossed they would showcase their signature Pourhouse burger from their regular menu, but wishful thinking. If they did they would have really showed many restaurants offering burgers at the event.
Instead they featured a Corned Beef Tongue Sandwich – onion slaw, fresh horseradish, pickled cukes, and grainy dijon. The beef tongue was cured and executed like pastrami and it was good, but no Pourhouse Burger. On the other hand there were a few stations featuring burgers already, and in this context their delicious burger might not be as appreciated as it would be at the restaurant. It is one of my top 5 favourite burgers in the city.
The Cove featured Fraser Valley Dry Age Beef Sliders – mini dry aged sliders served on brioche topper with butter lettuce, basil and garlic roma tomatoes, pancetta crisps, chimchurri aioli and Philips Blue Buck braised onions. The brioche was more like a milk bun, and they don’t offer this exact burger on their regular menu, but they offer burgers.
Hey, that’s not Hawksworth! No, no that isn’t. Meet Kristian Eligh. He is the Chef de Cuisine at Hawksworth Restaurant and he’s always in the trenches. It was actually my first time meeting him too. He is a big part in holding down the fort at the restaurant.
Okay, but nobody likes the guy who brings celery to the Superbowl… unless it’s next to chicken wings and blue cheese dip. I need the description card. “Charred pork jowl, crunchy pig ear, smoked avocado, jalapeno, cilantro”… ah, that’s better. You had me at “charred pork jowl” and then at “pig ear”. All is forgiven, and welcome to the party! Smart to leave out the “celery stick” (which was actually a cucumber disguised as a celery stick, but still).
It was fancy food, and I really like fancy food, but it was almost too pretty for this party. On that note, it had great texture and an unexpected depth of smoky and savoury flavours. The crispy pig ear was a refreshing change from bacon too and they use it on their Seared Yellowfin Tuna at the restaurant.
Meat & Bread is one of Vancouver’s favourite sandwich shops, but they didn’t feature a sandwich. Instead they featured meat they would use in a sandwich which is even better at this event. Less carbs means more space for more meat. I’m not sure if that was their intention, but regardless, thanks for thinking a step ahead!
They featured a Burmese Chicken – ginger, garlic, turmeric, fish sauce, chili, palm sugar, and herbs. The marinade and sauce was aromatic, savoury, sweet, acidic and spicy which is typical in most South East Asian cuisine. The flavourful sauce would have showcased perhaps better on chicken wings since it was a thin vinaigrette, but it still tasted great. My drumstick could have used a few more minutes on the grill to get a clean bone, but it was still safe to eat.
If you’ve never tried Chef Daniel Craig’s food, you’re missing out. He’s an incredibly talented and underrated chef in the city. EBO Restaurant is located at The Delta Burnaby hotel and it’s not the the most convenient location, but it’s good. The menu reads a bit traditional and safe, and I really wish they offered a Chef’s Tasting Menu which would be more representable of who Dan is as a chef. He’s one to watch out for… if only people knew.
This Grilled Peace Country Lamb with Sweetbread Stuffing and Salsa Verde was probably my favourite thing at the whole festival. Top 3 for sure. I couldn’t taste the sweetbread stuffing, but the meat was sous-vide and incredibly tender and buttery. I want to cry just looking at it again. It was a thing of beauty.
He also made Gelderman Farm’s Pork Terrine with dijon and cornichon. The smaller piece of crostini on top was way better than putting it on the bottom. It helped with texture, and again less carbs, more meat, and it was a well made terrine. Ebo showed up to bat.
Hunter Style Bison Short Rib – red wine braised, charcoal grilled rosemary, garlic, and black pepper finish. The meat slipped off the bone in one piece, but the meat itself wasn’t quite tender yet so cooking time and temperature needed adjusting. Bison is leaner than beef and has the tendency to dry out easily, so it’s a bit tricky to work with. It wasn’t dry though and the sauce was good.
I haven’t been to Lolita’s in ages, but it’s a popular neighbourhood restaurant in the West End of downtown Vancouver. They also just opened a Peruvian restaurant called Chicha which is a rather new concept for Vancouver.
Pemberton Meadows ground beef and chorizo taco served with pomegranate demi-glace and garden fresh pico de gallo salsa. They are West Coast style tacos and it wasn’t particularly memorable, but it tasted fine.
BBQ Duck Lettuce Wraps – It’s not really representable of West and Quang’s artistic plating skills and talent, but the duck was tender and good. It would have been great in a banh mi and it reminded me of one with the pickled daikon and carrots.
Traditionally, Thüringer bratwursts are grilled over a wood fire on a bacon fat greased grill. I’m not quite sure how labeling works, but to be called an official “Thüringer Bratwurst” 51% of the ingredients have to come from Thuringia, Germany. The sausage is made with finely minced pork, beef and/or veal, but this one was just pork. It is also traditionally eaten with mustard, but their currywurst sauce was nice. It was a delicious bratwurst, but just leave traditions and authenticity aside. This is a Vancouver-style Thüringer Bratwurst.
I see Forage at almost all food events and they always have a station these days. Chef Chris Whittaker is also always there and I don’t know if he ever takes a break. Forage is a leader in sustainable and local dining in Vancouver.
Peace Country Lamb Belly with radish salad and wild green chimmichurri. Lamb belly (sometimes called lamb breast) is literally and figuratively a different beast than pork belly. Just because you like one, doesn’t mean you’ll like the other. It cooks differently and they don’t taste similar. This one looked like a rib and it’s a super tough cut of meat that takes a long time to cook. This one could have been more tender, and the cooking time and temperature needed a bit of adjusting, but the chimmichurri sauce was nice.
He serves the food, but does he cook it? Kidding, Vij! All the recipes are his, but he has a talented kitchen of female chefs and cooks who execute his vision. It was nice to have a local celebrity chef at the event and I don’t think people were expecting it. If you want to see or meet him, you’ll have better luck catching him at an event where he has a table rather than at his restaurant. He’s a busy man, but he still comes out.
I can’t remember exactly what this was, but I think it was a pan fried chicken patty with curry sauce. He called it “This is Not Butter Chicken” and I remember it carried some heat and I wanted it over rice.
Dry Red Curry of Tri-Tip Sirloin – It was topped with a chunky peanut and red curry paste like sauce with some honey. I would have loved it with duck rather than beef, but the sirloin was really tender. The sauce was almost like the peanut satay sauce that comes with meat skewers. It was a dish I forgot about, but actually really enjoyed.
Two Rivers Specialty Meats (Meat Candy Shop)
This is their signature. People seem to love it, but I’m on the fence. It can be hit and miss and the cut varies from fatty and delicious to too much fat. This is also available on their regular menu (my post here), so you can decide for yourself.
Smoken Bones Cookshack (Victoria, BC)
Hog Wild Specialties boar terrine, in house made English relish, sauteed mushrooms in a Terra Bread baguette. Having this near the end was hard because it was such a substantial sandwich. The boar terrine was really dense and chunky and since it’s a lean meat it dries out easily.
Pork Cheek Steam Bun with Miso Mustard and Siu Choi Slaw – I was actually pretty impressed with the steam bun (mantou) and it was super soft and still moist. Siu Choy is a Chinese cabbage and it’s soft compared to American cabbage, so overall I lost some texture and colour in this, but the pork jowl was tender and good. On that note: beef cheek and pork jowl… not a big deal, but just the proper names. Correction: there is pork jowl and pork cheek, I’m not sure which one this was though.
Who doesn’t love the guy who brings a huge bin of bacon chips?? If you’re religious, don’t answer… and if you’re vegetarian, you’re not invited anyway. Kidding, but “help yourself” doesn’t make it any better, does it?
Hanger Steak A la Bourguignon – braised Double H. Ranch hanger, gruyere gratin potatoes. Yes, I know I have meat under my nails… it’s a BBQ. Knives and forks are almost a crime at a BBQ, but these mini plastic ones were super cute! I felt like a giant. By the way, I liked this. It was really nothing too fancy, but it was hearty and comforting meat and potatoes with sauce. The hanger steak was executed like a short rib and it was done well.
Dirty Apron Cooking School
Korean Galbi Quail, 5 spiced flatbread mango – The Korean galbi quail was butterflied and only partially deboned so it was hard to eat with the flat bread. It was the only restaurant serving quail. It had a soy, sugar, garlic and onion marinade (Galbi or Kalbi marinade) and traditionally Galbi is used for grilled beef short ribs.
The confit whole pig was perhaps my favourite pulled pork-style pork at the event. The flavour was incredible, but the bun took away from the attention it deserved. It was hard to stand out if you were serving burgers and sliders, but the confit pig in these was super moist, juicy and flavourful. It had whole mustard seeds and a bright acidity to cut through the richness. I loved it. I recently went to Fairmont Pacific Rim for dinner though and it was okay, and I was hoping for more. If they had this pork on the menu, I would be there tomorrow.
Baharat Spiced Lamb with Date Reduction and Hummus – This was a surprising one for me and I wasn’t expecting much from it. I really liked it though. The hummus was thick and creamy and the reduction was sweet and tangy. The lamb chops were moist and tender and it was just good.
Two Rivers Specialty Meats was a huge sponsor in making Brewery & The Beast successful, and they went all out.
Elements Urban Tapas Parlour (Whistler, BC)
Smoked Philly Cheese Steak – Organic beef inside round, sauteed peppers and onions, Blue Buck cheese sauce on a soft pretzel bun. I wasn’t at “meat coma” yet, but this was really hard to do as a last stop.
So here’s a game! Until now, I had not taken a sip of any drink. No beer, no water, nothing. I was dying of thirst. So what’s the game? Try opening a plastic water bottle after eating 40+ pieces of greasy meat with pretty much your hands. Impossible. Thanks to the guy at The Refinery for giving me a hand… literally.
And a big shout out to Namasthe Wild Roots Beer Iced Tea which made me question any “root beer” I’ve ever had.
The Phillips Brewing Company, Vancouver Urban Winery, and Left Field Cider were also there to help quench your thirst.
And I can’t forget about Vancouver Magazine’s “Supplier of the Year 2013” Kale & Nori Culinary Arts by Chef Jonathan Chovancek and Mixologist/Sommelier Lauren Mote (on his right). I visited them last because they were the one and only dessert table. I don’t buy that “real men don’t like dessert” crap, just admit it, you love it.
Technically this was my last plate. The guys at Tap & Barrel gave me a basket of bacon chips to go, and in the middle was a pile of Fairmont Pacific Rim’s confit pulled pork. On the left is the chocolate cake. I wasn’t surprised to find only one dessert station at a male dominated meat festival, but I was surprised it didn’t have meat in it…
All the meats at Brewery & The Beast were hormone and antibiotic free, ethically raised, and sourced from farms on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Valley, and select farms in Northern Alberta. Partial proceeds also went to The BC Hospitality Foundation and I can’t wait for next year!