The August Jack: Craft Beer and Tapas Bar

The August Jack opened up a few weeks ago on West 4th in Kitsilano, becoming Vancouver’s “first craft beer and food pairing restaurant”. Their focus is to pair an often rotating tap list of local and international craft beers with a selection of delicious tapas. Once I heard that checking this place out became high on my priorities, even without a sandwich on menu.DSC_0084Finding The August Jack isn’t difficult, their massive black awning and big block lettered name almost call you over to check them out. Once inside the room is casual and comfortable. We were sat right at the front by the large bay windows that open right to the street. Not a bad little spot to sit and sip on some tasty craft beers and enjoy some great small plates.DSC_0027 DSC_0013The first course was the Wild Mushroom Toasts paired Steamworks Pale Ale. The toasts come with seasonal wild mushrooms, hazelnut basil pesto, shaved manchego and balsamic reduction. The first thing I detected was how the earthiness from the mushrooms really brought out the malt in the beer. The hazelnuts came through really nice in the pesto and the house baked rustic sliced baguette was nice and crunchy. The mushrooms really resonate on the palate and continue to linger with the beer as you enjoy the two together. This was a great start to the meal.DSC_0049 DSC_0041The second course was the Pan Seared Beach Oysters paired with Unibroue Blanche De Chambly. The big juicy oyster come tossed in browned tarragon garlic butter with grilled portobello mushrooms and crispy fried leeks. The beer pairing here is spot on. This Belgian style Witbier is perfect with the oysters. The beer’s flavor accents the richness from the buttered oysters, while also cleansing the palate with its fresh, crisp mouth feel.DSC_0065The third course was the Read Island Mussels paired with Deschutes River Ale. The mussels were in a delicious paprika rose sauce with basil and crème fraiche. The mussels were big and plump and super tasty. The sauce was tangy, with great acidity that was mellowed by the addition of the crème fraiche. This beer from Deschutes is a great one, perfect for summer with its mellow hop flavor and light body.

So, next time you find yourself cruising down West 4th in Kits definitely pop into The August Jack for a great craft beer and delicious food pairing. Follow them on Twitter @TheAugustJack and follow me @TSTB_blog.

The Portside Pub: Pulled Chicken and Kimchi Sandwich with Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA

IMG_1659The Portside Pub is the newest of the Gastown craft beer bars offering a rotating selection of great craft beer on their 20+ taps. The décor is really cool, with an awesome east coast ship vibe happening. Wall to wall refurbished wood, porthole windows and lots of other nautical themes. They also offer tasty and unique food options. The options include a variety of dim sum, hot dogs and tasty pulled meat sandwiches, which you get by redeeming tokens that you purchase from your server. Think like a summer carnival inside a bar!

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The Portside offer 3 different sandwich options, including a pulled beef, a pulled pork and a pulled chicken. I went for the pulled chicken which comes with the already stated pulled chicken, spicy kimchi, QP mayonnaise and green onion on a fresh Kaiser bun. Right away you smell the kimchi, and I can honestly say I haven’t always been a fan of kimchi, especially the smell. But in this instance it’s great. It’s spicy and sour, with great acidity and the slow cooked pulled chicken has a subtle sweetness, which is great with the spicy kimchi. The heat from the kimchi really hangs around, but doesn’t take over.  I love the decision for the Japanese style QP mayo, and the thinly sliced green onion slivers are a great addition. Overall this sandwich was really tasty and unique.

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The rotating taps at The Portside mean they get a lot of great seasonals, so I was stoked when they mentioned that the Chainbreaker White IPA from Deschutes was on tap right now. The beer decision quickly became an easy choice as I’m always curious when it comes to a lot of these “hybrid beer” styles.  I also love everything I’ve had from Deschutes and the Chainbreaker is no different.

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This white IPA pours a cloudy golden yellow with a thick white head, the mouth feel is crisp and it has a nose and first taste of banana. It has a subtle hop aroma as well and then you get a crisp, dry hop finish. It was maybe the perfect beer to pair with the pulled chicken and kimchi sandwich, because as I sipped between bites I found that hoppy IPA characteristics accentuated the heat from the kimchi as the white/wheat beer characteristics worked to mellow the heat out. It actually created a perfect level of heat from the sandwich for my tastes. The Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA will definitely be a go to this summer for me.

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So if you’re looking for a spicy, tasty and unique pulled chicken sandwich paired with a refreshing “hybrid beer” from one of the top craft breweries in the Northwest, then head to The Portside Pub for This Sandwich and That Beer.

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Also head to The Portside Pub for the 2nd “This Sandwich, That Beer Throwdown” happening on June 23rd, 2013. Tickets will be on sale soon, check back here or follow me on Twitter for ticket information.

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Check out www.facebook.com/ThePortsidePub and www.deschutesbrewery.com for more info, follow them both on Twitter @ThePortsidePub  and @DeschutesBeer, and follow me @TSTB_blog. Head to Legacy Liquor Store if you want to pick up a six-pack of the Deschutes Chainbreaker White IPA.

Also, catch my monthly radio feature on “Just Here For The Beer” on Team Radio 1410AM airing on May 25th at 12:00pm.

Photo credits: Jordan Rokosz