For many, Squamish is a stop on their way to Whistler or a day trip for hiking or mountain biking outside of Vancouver. It is easy to peer out the window at the magnificence of the Chief then continue onward to your northward destination. Taking the time to stop and enjoy the amazing experiences Squamish has to offer is something that is unparalleled in British Columbia. From hiking the chief, fishing, kite surfing, mountain biking or skiing, the experiences Squamish has to offer are world class 12 months a year.
Even for those that are less adventure inclined low impact adventures can be found eagle watching, hiking the Squamish River, riding the Sea To Sky Gondola or exploring the Britannia Mine Museum. Squamish is a mere 45 minutes from Vancouver and there is a reason they call it the Recreation Capital of Canada. Oh, and did we mention they have craft beer as well?
What do you do when the sun sets in Squamish? Once per month the Howe Sound Brewery offers a unique experience for craft beer fans – a beer pairing dinner. What is truly unique here is that in addition to the food and libations, the Howe Sound Brewery has a hotel attached. While attending the four course beer pairing meal, you can also receive a discounted rate for a night’s stay.
The rooms are simple and homely, situated on the second floor of the downtown Squamish based facility. Twenty-or-so rooms offer a place for travelers and craft beer fans alike to rest their heads after a dinner in the brewpub or the monthly beer pairing.
The beer pairing dinner was a collaboration between head chef Brendan Cooke and brewery manager Patrick Moore. Together they concocted a four course meal paired with four locally brewed beers that both accentuated and enhanced one another’s intricate flavours.
For the first cource we had a fried concoction of seasonal squash. The light sweetness of the squash paired with the balsamic & coffee pearls in sharp contrast. The bitter-sweetness of the pearls added a kick to the Rosti. Paired with the Mexican Chiapas Coffee Ale the dish place the beer on a pedestal with the sweetness helping to balance the beer’s coffee bitterness.
For dish number two, a smoked fish dish gave a big aromatic experience. Served on a mint-infused lima bean puree this dish was all about contrast. Smoke, mint and a light sweetness from the lima beans and fish was balanced with the subtle bitterness found in the Balwin & Cooper ESB. The beer in this course was all about balance and giving and contrast and cleanse to the palate between bites.
The third course, was a rich and strong meat dish. A porchetta was served atop a mushroom risotto with crackle and chimichurri. The fatty richness from the pork, along with the creamy risotto needed something to balance out the ordeal. Here the Hopraiser West Coast IPA gave a nice bitterness and citrus hop tone to give a refreshing contrast. Perhaps the best pairing of the evening the dish was delicious and with each sip of beer the palate was cleansed and readied for another hit of delicious pork flavour.
No meal is complete without dessert. Here a poached pair was stuffed with chocolate and cranberries then wrapped in pastry. Served with a red wind recuction and drizzled wit creme anglais this sweet dish was prepared with balance in mind. The sweetness of the pear was put in a three way dual with a light chocolate bitterness and cranberry sour. The red wine reduction only made things better. To take things a step further the Father Johns Winter Ale brings winter spice including clove and vanilla into the mix to create a tummy-warming, holiday experience. A fantastic finish to a delicious beer-inspired meal.
Each course of this beer-pairing dinner was paired with a 4oz glass of the pairing choice. In case you were worried though the servers seemed to have a never ending supply of each beer keeping the glasses topped throughout the evening. Such a meal is not about excess but sometimes you just need an bit extra to fully take in the pairing. Howe Sound Brewery did a great job of balancing reason with excess and beer flavour with fantastic seasonally-inspired food dishes.
After four seemingly bottomless beer samples, one is best not to drive. It is a good thing that Howe Sound has the ability to rest your head following the dinner. The combination of a brewery, restaurant and hotel is a win-win situation. How can you go wrong with great food, delicious craft beer and a place to rest your head before or after a day of Squamish Adventure.