Once in a while, a truly great thing comes along that cannot be overlooked.
Sometimes it’s a piece of wonderful art that you cannot take your eyes off, or a fabulous pair of heels that you may never wear, but will also never regret buying. Maybe it’s a lucky lottery ticket that pays for your next vacay to a tropical paradise, or simply a wedge of the creamiest, dreamiest cheese ever imagined by man. Yeah, most of my “great things’ are somehow food related (natch). So it was with utter glee and jubilation that I was asked to cover the introduction to one of the most anticipated (by me and many other omnivores) events of Victoria’s many food parties: Brewery & The Beast or as the Twitter hashtag explains #meatfestyyj.
Marrying Victoria’s love of all things craft beer with locally sourced, free range and hormone/antibiotic free meats will undoubtedly be one of Victoria’s finest achievements in the culinary festival circuit. This could be the next Great Canadian Beer Fest, but instead of alcohol as the centre piece, it is the accompaniment. People can mill around Phillips Brewing Company’s “backyard” as they sip a fine ale, a home made soda or iced tea, or a locally pressed cider while they sample locally sourced meats such as bison, wild boar or Metchosin lamb along with more standard fare such as pork, beef and chicken from 28 different vendors. Live music will also accompany the gluttony.
Tickets for this inaugural event were sold out in just five days with little to no advertising (save for social media). Why? Because this town is full of awesomeness and you don’t have to push us too far when the words “meat” and “beer” are jammed together in one delightful festival. People embrace the off centre, the different, the small and intimate gathering and keeping our local economy pumped up by throwing entertaining events like these that showcase the bounty this island has to offer is exactly what everyone is looking for. Or maybe it’s our ego… Victorians are known for their foodie snobbery. Being able to say you were an attendee at the inaugural “Meat Fest” could be a character booster for many. Imagine next year (yes, plans are already in the works!), when all the people who missed out this year line up for tickets. I’m drooling already…but don’t think that things will get out of hand in the style of the GCBF. This festival will stay small, intimate and more focused.
Photo by Greg Bolton
Organizer Scott Gurney, also the creator of Culinaire, wants to keep this festival about the meat, the beer and the people that bring it to us. Prepare to be enveloped in a relaxed and welcoming environment complete with horseshoe pits and whole pig and lamb roasts along with a corn boil and hand cut French fries. The sense of community in such a small environment will be the focus, along with food education and of course, enjoying the highest quality meats Vancouver Island, the lower mainland and select farms from northern Alberta have to offer with one of it’s highest quality breweries as an accompaniment.
Approaching Matt Phillips of Phillips Brewery with the proposal was a no brainer; it only took three months of planning and the festival was a go. Other local stars quick to jump on board were Matt Rissling of The Marina, Jeff Heatherington of Pig BBQ Joint and Garrett Shack of Vista 18. These guys, all amazing chefs, know that beer is the new wine. Pairing food with beer is an up and coming trend that is sure to stick around for a long time coming. For most people, it’s easier to pick up a 650ml bottle of a local ale (with clear and concise flavour profiles usually listed on the bottle) and pair it with Tuesday dinner then it is to pick the right wine among the hundreds stocked in liquor stores. Beers around the world are actually being brewed specifically to be matched with certain foods and no one is complaining.
If this little article has got you drooling, hopefully you were one of the lucky ones to pick up a ticket during the rush, if not, there’s always next year. For those lucky few, prepare to be a part of an inspiring inaugural event that is sure to keep us in the know on where to source our local meats year round. I know I’ll be taking notes on which local farmers supplied what and which restaurants are serving it. I’ll be live tweeting and Instagramming from the event, so look for all the juicy tidbits coming September 23rd!
For more information about Brewery & The Beast, check out their website: http://culinairevictoria.com/Brewery/index.html