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Vancouver’s First Annual Meat Festival: Brewery & The Beast 2013

June 19, 2013

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Two Rivers Meats 1

This past weekend I attended Vancouver’s first “meat festival”. Just typing those words makes me giddy. I mean, a festival dedicated purely to celebrating local, ethically raised, hormone and antibiotic free meats? Yes, please!

I must admit I was hesitant to pay the $82.95 for a ticket. I consider that to be a hefty price tag. Especially when I didn’t know quite what to expect, as this was the first time Brewery & the Beast would be taking place in Vancouver. But in the end, I knew I’d be kicking myself if I passed up attending a meat festival – I mean, it’s a meat festival! (I really like saying that). Plus, the event benefits the BC Hospitality Foundation.

So, I’m thrilled that the event exceeded my expectations – the Meat Festival rocked!

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Smoken Bones Coockshack Dorkwurst

Meat Festival 101

So how did it all go down? At the gate, everyone was handed a wooden plank, which would basically be an extension of your arm for the next 3 hours. There was a hole for your beer cup, and the rest of it would be your plate. I loved this concept! It cut down so much on waste – instead of 35 plates you had one reusable one. Plus, it conveniently held your beverage.

The event was all-inclusive. So, once you entered, you could eat and drink however much you pleased. There were 35 restaurants participating, each serving something different. Even though 900 tickets were sold (the festival was sold out), it never felt crowded. Line-ups were pretty much non-existent, and there was plenty of food to go around.


Beverages, etc.

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Phillips Brewing Gypsy Meat Trailer.

The beverage star was Phillips Brewing Company’s 32 tap gypsy beer trailer (!?). In addition to beer, they also had 2 sodas – I quite enjoyed their ginger beer. No actual beer for me, as I not only avoid gluten, but also all grains. So, I was excited that Urban Winery was serving wine, and even more so that Left Field was pouring cider. I just wish that the cider was as free flowing as the beer because a) that’s what I was drinking instead of beer and b) their little sample sized cups wouldn’t fit into that wooden BBQ plate. There was also plenty of water available, and a very popular coffee stand. The non-alcoholic standout for me was Namasthe’s Wild Roots Beer Iced Tea which was unexpectedly delicious (I liked it better than the Earl Gray).

Also, the only sweet offering was from Bitter Sling. I know, I know, it’s a meat festival. But some ice cream would’ve been welcome on such a hot day, just to finish things off! (I resolved that issue by eating gelato in lieu of dinner that night – don’t judge!). Anyway, Bitter Sling was serving a chocolate whiskey cake with strawberries and meringue, featuring their bitters. They were nice enough to put the toppings minus the cake (not gluten-free) in a cup for me – great stuff! 


Music

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Electric Timber Co.

Electric Timber Co. performed on stage throughout the festival, and when they did take breaks (to chow down, I hope!), there were still some good tunes being pumped. They were a great choice for the meat festival, playing some sweet, feel good music.

As a side note, the festival occurred on Father’s Day, so there were lots of families, minus young kids as it was a 19+ event.  The ambiance was great – it seemed like everyone was having a blast.


Meat

Brewery & The Beast 2013 The Refinery Lamb Kofta Kebabs

Overall, I was impressed with the food – the dishes were very well executed. When you have such fine quality meat, you want to showcase it – and the restaurants made the meat the star of the show. Being paleo, I was especially pleased that most of the dishes were presented without any sort of bread – and for the relatively few where that wasn’t the case, it was easy enough to pick off the meat (although all the bread that ended up in the garbage was kind of a waste – it seems that people were too full on meat to bother with carbs). I tried to just ask for the meat if I got to the station before they plated it on bread, or in some cases I asked if they could keep/re-use the bun. Everyone was very accommodating.

Brewery & The Beast 2013 The Bottleneck Pastrami

FYI – Just because I didn’t eat any bread doesn’t mean that I didn’t ingest any gluten. I didn’t ask if the sauces and marinades were gluten-free, and I would imagine that soy would have been incorporated into at least some of the dishes. Plus, there’s the usual cross-contamination issues. So, I can’t vouch for how Celiac-friendly the event was (it’d be really cool if the dishes that were completely gluten-free were labeled as such). But, for what it’s worth, I didn’t have an upset stomach or any such symptoms that tend to accompany my accidental gluten/soy exposure, so I don’t think I consumed very much of it.

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Nuba Baharat Spiced Lamb

There was so much food! I’ve organized the dishes by protein type. I don’t eat pork, so I didn’t include photos of the pork dishes, but I did list what was available. I was very pleasantly surprised by how much variety there was in terms of the types of meat. I was a little worried that I’d feel left out of the festivities by passing on the pork. And sure, I missed out some terrific looking dishes. But luckily for me, I didn’t feel like pork dominated – by my calculations, pork dishes only comprised approximately 40% of all the food offerings, and there was so much other stuff to go around – beef, lamb, chicken, bison, duck, etc. – that it was a non-issue. I ate almost every non-pork dish and stuffed myself silly – if I had also eaten the pork, I may have exploded :)

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Meat & Bread Burmese Chicken 1


MY TOP THREE: Wildebeest, Nuba, and EBO

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Wildebeest Beef Short Rib

In this whirlwind of meat, there were 3 dishes that really stood out for me. My hands down favourite was Wildebeest’s Beef Short Rib. It came with a crispy shallot topping which I passed on, since it wasn’t gluten-free. I liked it so much that it was the only restaurant that I came back to for seconds! The second time around, they served it with some sort of sweet reduction. This short rib was extraordinary: juicy, fall-apart-in-your-mouth-tender, fatty goodness.

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Nuba Baharat Spiced Lamb with date reduction and hummus

I love lamb rib chops, so my eyes lit up just seeing these on the grill. Nuba’s Baharat Spiced Lamb with date reduction and hummus was delicious. The lamb was so tender, well-seasoned and flavorful. And the date reduction was icing on the cake and very much complemented the seasoning.

Brewery & The Beast 2013 EBO Lamb

This Peace Country Lamb with Sweetbread Stuffing and Salsa Verde from EBO didn’t make it to my top 3 simply because it was a lamb rib chop. And admittedly, I didn’t pick up on the sweetbread stuffing. But, the lamb was perfectly grilled, and the salsa verde worked very well with it. Fantastic!


BEEF

The beef came from the following BC and Alberta farms: Cache Creek Natural Beef Co., Diamond Willow Organic Beef, Double R Ranch Northwest Beef, Heritage Angus Range Fed Beef, and Pemberton Meadows Natural Beef.

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Two Rivers Meats 2

I can’t remember where these awesome Maui beef short ribs were from (if you know, please leave a comment below), but they were tender and flavorful, and I really enjoyed the chimmichurri.

Two Rivers Specialty Meats

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Two Rivers Specialty Meats

Two Rivers Specialty Meats was one of the main sponsors of the Meat Festival. They source their meat from over 20 farms and supply dozens of local restaurants and stores. Unsurprisingly, their stall did not disappoint. On display: a Two Rivers original “beefchetta”, of 38 day dry aged Cache Creek Natural Beef.

Darby’s Pub

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Darby's Pub Cheeseburger

Darby’s Pub served up Mini Bacon Cheese Burgers with Caramelized Onion. It was a good burger, but nothing out of the ordinary.

The Bottleneck

Brewery & The Beast 2013 The Bottleneck Pastrami 1

 

 

The Bottleneck made Pemberton Meadows House Pastrami, Blue Buckle Biscuit and Naturally Fermented Sauerkraut. I heart sauerkraut, and it provided some nice acidity. And I adored the pastrami – it’s not something I see very often, especially made in house.

Maenam

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Maenam Dry Red Curry of Tri-Tip Sirloin

Maenam’s Dry Red Curry of Tri-tip Sirloin had lovely flavors. The tenderloin was super tender and I loved the presentation.

Pourhouse

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Pourhouse Corned Beef Tongue and The Cove Beef Slider

The Pourhouse Corned Beef Tongue Sandwich is pictured on the left – I loved the corned beef, and the fact that it was tongue made it that much sweeter. And on the right is The Cove’s tasty Fraser Valley Dry Aged Beef Slider.

Donnelly Group

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Donnelly Group Beef Heart Nachos

The Donnelly Group’s Beef Heart Nachos sign was cool, and kudos to them for cooking up offal! The beef hearts were flavorful and tender.

Elements Urban Tapas Parlor

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Elements Cheese Steak

Elements presented a Smoked Philly Cheese Steak, which sadly was my least favourite dish of the day – I found the beef to be tough and too dry.

Other

  • Black & Blue’s Seared Steak Bites
  • Hanger Steak A La Bourguignon

LAMB

Lamb is definitely one of my favourite proteins, so I was happy to see so many different lamb dishes, two of which ranked in my top 3 above (Nuba and EBO). The lamb was sourced from Peace Country.

Glowbal Grill

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Glowbal Wood Fired Lamb

Glowbal’s dish was Wood Fired Lamb with Tomato Fennel Marinade. Wood fired lamb? Delightful.

The Refinery

Brewery & The Beast 2013 The Refinery Lamb Kofta Kebab

I really liked The Refinery’s dish: Lamb Kofta Kebab with Organic Quinoa Tabbouleh and Yogurt Mint Sauce. The kebab was very well seasoned, and exceptionally juicy. Also, the presentation was pretty.

Forage

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Forage Lamb Belly

Forage dished out Lamb Belly with Pickled Radishes and Chimmichurri. I was expecting the lamb belly to be more tender, but it was still very fatty and tasty. Also, I appreciated the presentation, especially the pickled radishes.


BISON 

Yay for the couple of restaurants that decided to cook bison! It’s always nice to have some variety, and I’m betting there were lots of people out there trying bison for the first time! The bison was sourced from Alberta’s Canadian Rangeland Bison & Elk.

Pidgin

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Pidgin Bison Tataki

Pidgin made three dishes, one of which was a Bison Tataki on Grilled Potato, with Smoked Tomato Aioli. The tataki was incredibly good, and I loved how they served it on a grilled potato – creative and yummy presentation.

Cibo

I forgot to snap a photo of Cibo’s Hunter Style Bison Short Rib (down the hatch it went!). It could’ve been more tender, but still good.


POULTRY

The farms that provided poultry were: Rossdown Farms & Natural Foods, Thiessen Farms, and Yarrow Meadow.

West

Brewery & The Beast 2013 West BBQ Duck Lettuce Wraps

West’s BBQ Duck Lettuce Wraps were the only all-duck offering at the festival. I liked the lettuce wrap aspect and thought the duck was done very well. I also liked the BBQ flavors.

Meat & Bread

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Meat & Bread Burmese Chicken

Meat & Bread’s Burmese Chicken was very good and juicy – but unfortunately perhaps too much so, since mine was raw! :(

Vij’s

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Vij's Chicken Cakes.

Vikram Vij himself was there, serving the food and chatting with meat lovers, which was a nice surprise. His dish was called: I Cannot Believe It Is Not “Butter Chicken”, which was a chicken cake with a mild curry sauce. It was unique and yummy, and I liked how it was just protein + curry, sans rice.

Pidgin

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Pidgin Korean BBQ Chicken Wings

Pidgin’s two other dishes (in addition to the bison tataki above) were the Korean BBQ Chicken Wings and the smoked tomato gazpacho. The chicken wings were juicy, but didn’t pack as much flavour as I would’ve liked.

Other

  • Dirty Apron Cooking School’s Korean Galbi Quail

PORK

The pork came from Hog Wild Specialties, Johnston’s Pork, Sunderland Hog Farms, and Sloping Hill Farms.

  • Bull Chip House and Meating Place: BLT (with bacon woven together to serve as the bread)
  • EBO: Pork Terrine
  • Lolita’s: Pemberton Meadows Beef and Chorizo Taco
  • Big Lou’s Butcher Shop: Boar Terrine
  • Fairmont Pacific Rim: Grilled Mortadella Slider and Confit Whole Pig
  • Hawksworth: Charred Pork Jowl
  • Bestie: Pork Thuringer Bratwurst
  • House Guest: Pork Cheek Steam Buns
  • Two Rivers: Meat Candy Shop: Pork Chips, Salami, Prosciutto, Crudo
  • Tap & Barrel: Coiled Bratwurst and Bacon Chips
  • Mepmphis Blues BBQ: Pulled Pork
  • Smoken Bones Cookshack: Dorkwurst (duck and pork sausage with rhubarb mustard): image of the sausages is at the very top of the post; the rhubarb mustard looked pink, which I loved, but the rhubarb flavour was overpowered by the mustard
  • Peckinpah: Carolina Style Pork Side Ribs
  • Campagnolo: Whole Roasted Pigs

Did you attend this year’s Festival of Meat? If you missed it, I highly recommend checking it out next year! But if you’ve read this far, I doubt you need convincing! Brewery & The Beast set the bar high – judging by this year’s caliber, I’m expecting some serious meaty deliciousness for future years! :)

Brewery & The Beast 2013 Panorama

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