Samuel Adam’s Beer Pairing at Fable Restaurant by Chef Trevor Bird

Restaurant: Fable Kitchen
Cuisine: Pacific Northwest/West Coast/Canadian
Last visited: March 24, 2014
Location: Vancouver, BC (Kitsilano)
Address: 1944 West 4th Ave
Phone: (604) 732-1322
Transit: EB w 4 Av NS Cypress St
Price Range: $30-50 ($18-28 mains)

1Poor 2OK 3Good 4Very good 5Excellent 6FMF Must Try!

Food: 4-4.5
Service: 4
Ambiance: 4
Value: 4
Overall: 4.5
Additional comments:

  • Chef/Owner Trevor Bird
  • Farm to table cooking/food
  • Sustainable/local ingredients
  • Seasonal/weekly menus
  • Daily features
  • Lively/busy
  • Neighbourhood favourite
  • Beer/cocktail/wine
  • Monday-Friday 11:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30–10:00 pm
  • Saturday brunch 10:30 am – 2:00 pm, 5:30–10:00 pm
  • Sunday brunch 10:30am-2pm
  • Reservations recommended
  • Twitter: @fablekitchen

**Recommendations: Canned Tuna, Mussels, Squash Gnocchi, Lemon Meringue Parfait. The Chickpea Fritters and Spaghetti and Meat Balls are also popular. For brunch: Benedicts with Olive Oil Hollandaise, Farmers Muffin, House Made Sausage, House Made Bacon

Samuel Adams Beer TwEAT Up at Fable 3Ugh. I don’t like that my first post for Fable isn’t based on a regular night. I’ve been here a few times on regular days, but still in the wrong context, so I haven’t been able to write a proper restaurant experience post for it yet. That being said, having tried it on a few occasions now I get a better idea of what Fable is. I also get a feel for consistency which is always key to a successful restaurant. However, this isn’t a restaurant post, this is a beer post.

Really? But you don’t write about beer. No, I don’t. I have on occasion (albeit lightly), but it is not my specialty and I’m still working on a palate for it. My rule of thumb is to “try it until you like it”, so I’ll keep trying different ones until I find one I like. It works with everything. I’ve done it with Tequila, papaya, durian, and even some Chinese desserts like red bean soup… just gotta keep trying and being open-minded. It’s the only way to learn to like it too, and it helps having the right people giving me recommendations to better suit my tastes.

So when I was asked to host a Samuel Adams TwEAT Up at Fable restaurant by Samuel Adams (well not Samuel Adams himself, although that would have been freaking cool), I was a bit hesitant. I don’t really know much about beer, so if I do this I want to be with some beer experts and have proper guidance. Side note, but I actually asked beer experts for their opinions on Samuel Adams before I agreed to do this; since it was all positive, I was comfortable with the association.

I know, I take the culinary scene too seriously sometimes, but it’s hard to shake off when I’m naturally curious and “critical” about everything… and it is my work. I don’t take myself seriously, but I take my work seriously. I actually love writing about things I know little about too because it gives me the excuse to research and learn more about it. I was starting from scratch with Samuel Adams, popularly referred to as Sam Adams.

Samuel Adams Beer TwEAT Up at Fable 02No, Sam Adams was not created by Samuel Adams. It was created by Jim Koch in Boston in 1984. He named it in honour of Samuel Adams who was a local politician and leader in the American Revolution and the Boston Tea Party. I’m no history buff when it comes to history, but food history is different. I love it.

Samuel Adams is a leader in the craft beer revolution and is respected for that fact alone. In 1984 the beer scene was different and craft beers didn’t exist. The idea of “craft beer” has also shifted so the meaning for it back then is different than what it means today. Today people tend to think of craft beer as exclusive, small-batched, micro-brews that are near impossible to find, but that’s also hipster beer.

Craft beer refers to beer made in smaller scales compared to big corporate breweries. The focus is on technique and ingredients and usually there is a limited amount made.

It is hard to think of Samuel Adams as a craft beer company because it’s easily available at selective restaurants, bars and liquor stores in the States, and you can grab any six pack at BCLDB stores in British Columbia and throughout Canada, but it still is.

“Small batches”, “artisan”, “hand-crafted”, “premium” etc., etc., are the culinary marketing terms of the last few years and counting, so I don’t find them impactful. For me, making 50 cookies is a big batch, so all this “small batch” cooking/baking/pickling/fermenting etc., is all relative. They have no guideline and it’s all very vague. That’s why I tend to give these words little credit when used and I focus more on the product. I love supporting independent companies, which by the way Samuel Adams is still independently owned, but when it comes down to it, I want a quality product at good value. If I get that, I also become a loyal customer.

As for the flagship Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager itself, it was good… I mean if you’re a beer drinker it’s likely you’ve already tried it, so me telling you how it tastes is like the blind leading the 20/20 vision. However if you haven’t tried it, it takes warming up to especially if you only like light tasting beers.

This is a full bodied rich beer. It is made with two-row malted barley and Bavarian Noble hops which gives it a fuller and smoother body. There is a malty sweetness and then a roasted bitterness in the aftertaste. There is also supposed to be floral, piney and citrus notes, which are from the Noble hop varieties of Hallertau Mittelfrueh and Tettnang Tettnanger, but my beer palate and knowledge isn’t at the level to detect these complexities yet.

Samuel Adams Beer TwEAT Up at Fable 12I preferred the Samuel Adam’s Boston Lager with food, although many enjoy it without too. Luckily chef Trevor Bird was in control of the food. For this special event he created a Sam Adam’s inspired 4 course menu to go along with the beer. Some were offered as daily specials to his regular guests and due to positive response he’s planning to keep some of them on. Win for him, win for them and win for Sam!

Note: Due to the context of the event, I will not go into too many details with the food (for me at least) since it was a one time only event… well I guess some dishes will be making re-appearances now.

Photography credit: Justin Lam of Three Sixty Photo

On the table:

Samuel Adams Beer TwEAT Up at Fable 4Pretzels and Samuel Adams Fermented Beer Cheese

  • I could really taste the Samuel Adams beer in this and that was the point – BEER CHEESE.
  • It could be aggressive for some and some may like it cooked out more, but surprisingly I liked it.
  • At first I found it too strong, but then it grew on me and got addicting.
  • It was fluffy, creamy, whipped cheese sauce made with white cheddar and ricotta.
  • I could really taste the fermentation and yeastiness and it had a floury texture (not taste) which initially I wasn’t keen on, but that grew on me too.
  • It was a béchamel-like cheese sauce and it would make an interesting base for mac n’ cheese… or forget the blue cheese dip, give me this and a plate of chicken wings.
  • The pretzels were warm and fluffy, but not like the ones from Auntie Anne’s (which I really like).
  • See, corporate and big batch versus independent and small batch, but good is good and you like what you like.

Samuel Adams Beer TwEAT Up at Fable 07Mussels and Chorizo and Samuel Adams Apple Broth

  • This was delicious and I’d order it again.
  • Beer and mussels go together as much as wine and mussels.
  • The beer was more or less cooked out so I couldn’t taste it as much here, if at all.
  • It was creamy, but not too rich and it was almost Thai-like in flavours for some reason.
  • It was sweet and tangy from the apple juice and spicy with gradual heat.
  • The flavour profile was South-East Asian without the lemongrass, fish sauce and basil etc.
  • The broth was savoury with chorizo drippings and the chorizo was meatball like in the broth.
  • The mussels were fresh, plump and juicy and it was a complementing array of ingredients.
  • I love sweet, savoury and tangy all in one bite, so I like one pot wonders like this.
  • Note: Ask for bread or better yet, order a side of frites. That broth should not go to waste.

Samuel Adams Beer TwEAT Up at Fable 06Samuel Adams Porkapalooza

  • A large pork platter with pork cooked 3-4 ways all with Samuel Adams includes:
    • Samuel Adams Brined Pork Rack – It was cooked pretty perfectly with a nice pink centre. It was juicy, tender, not too salty and well executed.
    • Samuel Adams BBQ Sauce Pulled Pork – It was good, but not the crowd favourite although no one complained about it. I think it has more potential.
    • Samuel Adams Cured Bacon – This was the crowd favourite, but not for me. I actually preferred the pork rack. Bacon is bacon, and he offers this on his brunch menu too. The thick slice of bacon I found still chewy even though no one else did, but my benchmark for this style of bacon is at The Publican. I haven’t had one better since.
  • This family style platter can be ordered in advance for 6+ people.

Samuel Adams Beer TwEAT Up at Fable 8Cheddar Apple Pie

  • With Samuel Adams Ice Cream
  • Nice plating! They put effort in this.
  • Cheddar and apple in dessert is not far-fetched and I’ve actually made a pie like this with a bacon lattice crust.
  • This was a modern interpretation of an apple pie and the apples were sliced paper thin and made into a terrine.
  • It was a whole stack of tender, buttery, melt in your mouth caramelized apples on a very thin cheddar cheese crust.
  • I would have liked a better balanced ratio of crust to apples because the apples outweighed any cheese flavour.
  • While I don’t like too sweet, this was almost only naturally sweetened from the apples which weren’t that sweet.
  • It needed more salt to bring out the sweetness and since the cheddar was muted, it lacked flavour and intensity overall.
  • I liked the cheddar crumble and apple chip for textural contrast which I always look for.
  • The Samuel Adams Ice Cream was obvious with beer flavour, although not overpowering, but it wasn’t that sweet either.
  • It had a malted flavour and creamy rich texture, but the recipe wasn’t there yet.
  • It needed either honey or vanilla to make it more dessert like or it fell flat.
  • Overall the two main components had the same level of sweetness, which wasn’t much, so it was a bit bland.
  • It could have been more sweet and savoury, but it was still a good dessert and everyone seemed to enjoy it.
  • Another good ‘apple pie’ inspired dessert I’d recommend right now is at Good Wolfe.

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