Stanley Park Brewing graciously invited us to their launch of their WinterGlow Mandarin IPA at Stanley Park Pavilion. Although it sounded like a fun event, I’ll admit, I’ve had mixed feelings about Stanley Park Brewing. Compared to a lot of the microbreweries in B.C., their beers haven’t stood out to me as the epitome of “craft”, or at least how the majority of beer enthusiasts in the province view craft beer. Being acquired by Labatt Breweries in the fall of last year certainly didn’t add legitimacy to their footprint in the industry either. Having sampled most of their lineup, the only Stanley Park beer that stood out to me was the Windstorm Pale Ale. What can I say…I love a good pale ale!
This evening, however, changed my opinion of Stanley Park Brewing for the better. And no, it wasn’t the upscale nature of the event or delicious food pairings that sold me on their newest addition to their family. It was simple; the WinterGlow IPA tasted fantastic.
The evening started with a trolley ride through Waterfront and into Stanley Park with a chatty driver who, prior to departure, gave us a history lesson on the craft beer industry in B.C.
Once we arrived at the Stanley Park Pavilion, an oasis in the dark woods, we were greeted at the door by the star of the evening, the WinterGlow IPA. Apparently they like to meet in groups…
Fittingly, there were mandarin oranges place on each table in the bar area. If you didn’t know that WinterGlow was a mandarin orange-flavored IPA, this was a telling sign. Or you could just read the label…
After the first few sips of the new IPA, Brett and I grinned at each other. I think we both had expected that a mandarin-flavored beer would be overly orange tasting, but to our pleasant surprise it wasn’t. The WinterGlow was what you would expect from a quality IPA – crisp, good hop profile, higher alcohol percentage (6.4% ABV) – but with a subtle mandarin orange aftertaste that I quite enjoyed. It took me a few sips to pick out the mandarin taste specifically, as there are some other citrus aromas present in the brew – grapefruit and lemon to be exact.
Brett figured that we should toss a couple slice of the orange into the glass. Hefeweizens are often garnished with a slice of lemon, so this didn’t seem like a stretch. I preferred the IPA sans slice of orange, but it was worth a shot.
And on a side note, here’s our red carpet moment…yes, we’re bringing back the 70’s mustaches. Hollywood baby!
After our first glimpse and sample of Stanley Park’s IPA, we were excited to see what was in store of the dinner portion of the evening. The closed doors that led to the dining area were very mysterious, so I tried to sneak a peak of the ‘long table’ arrangement.
Once the doors opened and we were seated, we saw the menu for the evening. Each course was paired with a Stanley Park Brewing beer. We sampled everything from their Noble Pilsner to their Foghorn India Brown Ale (IBA).
The Foghorn IBA is another fairly new brew from Stanley Park, and was delicious. I’ve really been into darker beers (dark lagers, stouts, porters) as of late due to the colder weather, and this fit the bill perfectly, with an added twist. If a brown ale and an IPA got had a baby, this wood be it. A beautiful beer baby indeed, and definitely one that I’ll drink again.
Stanley Park’s Brewmaster, Todd, took a few moments to discuss the inspiration and flavors behind the WinterGlow IPA. It became clear that it’s roots are in Christmas traditions…a box of mandarin oranges on the dining room table or a Terry’s Chocolate Orange at the bottom of the stocking, making it reminiscent of times spent with family over holidays past.
Now, on to dinner! The watermelon salad paired with the pilsner was a very refreshing start to the meal, although the broccoli and grape ‘slaw’ was the clear winner here. For the family-style mains, I stuck with the blackened chicken, however, was told by Brett and our photographer for the evening, Luke Mikler, that the Steelhead En Papillote was fantastic. Apparently is was Todd’s favorite as well.
Capping the evening off was the Grapefruit Pano Cotta pistachio crumble, paired with the pale ale. A solid finish to a night of delicious dishes, great conversation, and tasty beer.
A big thank you to Stanley Park Brewing for inviting us to the launch of their new IPA, and to my friend Luke Mikler for taking some fantastic photos of the evening’s events. To check out more of Luke’s work, visit lukemiklerphoto.comand check out his Instagram page @mshrms. Here’s a few more of his shots from the WinterGlow launch event:
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