Several weeks ago, while enjoying a beer at Cabana Grille in Kelowna, I chanced upon Dave, the local Sales Representative for Big Rock Brewery in the BC Interior. We had a short discussion on Big Rock beers and exchanged business cards. The following week, Dave calls and invites me to a very special Brewmasters Dinner hosted at Cabana Grill, featuring Big Rock Beers!
Big Rock is one of those semi-mainstream beers that I usually have passed up when stocking my beer fridge, but I was to learn a lot about the company this fine evening and regain my appreciation for their place in the craft beer world here in Western Canada. Brewmaster, Paul Gautreau, was on hand to describe the beers paired with each course of dinner. Paul also gave an insight into some of the new beers being brewed this year at Big Rock.
Paul enlightened me and the rest of the crowd on the history of craft beer in Western Canada, the importance of flavor and the appreciation of style and character in a wide spectrum of beers. What better way to experience this than an evening of beer and food pairing at one of Kelowna’s premier dining spots.
The Thursday night event began at 6PM with open pours of several Big Rock Beers. The bar at Cabana filled up with local liquor store and restaurant/pub owners/managers from around the Okanagan Valley.
After a few pints, Chef April Roy from Cabana Grille, introduced her first course. Crab Cake Schnitzel, Saaz Beurre Blanc, Citrus Vanilla Infusion, Picked Carrots and Lime Pearls! Wow!! The fantastic dish was paired nicely with Big Rock’s Saaz Republic Pilz beer. The Saaz Republic Pilz offers a distinct but mild bitterness on the front end followed by a slight hop middle and a clean, refreshing finish. The beer paired perfectly with April’s creation!
The second course consisted of Turkey Meatball with Ale and Horseradish Village Cheese Fondue and wrapped neatly with an Apple Chip. Big Rock Traditional Ale was served with this dish and again Chef April nailed the pairing! And if you haven’t tried Village Cheese Company‘s selection of cheeses, do check them out whenever you are in Armstrong, BC.
The Third Course was served with Big Rock Helles Bock, coincidentally brewed to 6.66%ABV. Chef April gave us a Choucroute Spicy Pork Belley, Bauernwurst, Riesling Sauerkraut, Green Beans and Helles Bock Gastrique. Fantastic pairing again, with the food and beer bringing out the flavors of each other.
Dessert was served as Scottish Ale Ice Cream with a Chili Sugar Cookie, Maple Toffee Crunch, Malt Beignet and a Plum Spice Reduction. Served with Big Rock’s Scottish Style Heavy Ale which balances toffee, caramel and vanilla, a perfect companion to the dessert.
I thank Big Rock Brewery and Dave for the opportunity to take in this fine evening. I have been re-introduced to the key values of craft beer of all styles. Cabana Grille offers six Big Rock Beers on tap so definitely belongs on the map of Craft Beer Friendly establishments in Kelowna. And after tasting Chef April Roy’s creations, Cabana Grille surely is amongst the city’s top culinary destinations. What a great combination!