Blood Alley ESB : Russell Brewing Company, Ltd. : ESB
Mikkiller’s Coffee IPA : Mikkel Borg Bjergsø : IPA
A near perfect day on the rock edge of the wild pacific walk and followed by picking up a fresh salmon from the great fish Trilogy store and grilled to perfection.
Only one thing disturbs it: my friend Richard’s reluctance to freely admit his artisianship in all this. Asked on Granville Island what he does, Richard hesitated uncomfortably long (in my opinion) before confessing to being a glass caster. (And he is an expert one too, in my opinion.) And for many years now, he has kept the depth of his cooking abilities a secret, until tonight.
With help from young Ben chopping garlic, Richard has created one of the most wonderful dinners I have ever enjoyed, and out of the simplest of ingredients of peppers, potatoes, soy, and salmon. I can only hope the beers match up.
“Ah, light on the back end,” says my friend Richard, ” which doesn’t mean that I don’t like it.”
I’m finding nice refreshment on the front end, a warm biscuit, a touch of mineral–like seasalts without the saltiness. It’s a beautiful beer, both inside the bottle (with the butcher-guide pig on the label) and out (with the copper qualities of sunset). But it does fade quickly.
Helen hesitates some more. That’s when I realize another great beer tasting epiphany: “just say what you think.”
“Well,” she says, “the trailing is failing.”
Excellent, excellent. But tragedy is on the way.
In mid-dinner I reach for the big beer bottle, metaphorically tall enough to match the old growth forest and Richard’s grilled salmon. The Mikkiller’s Coffee IPA. Now, you know that anything Mikkiller’s is at least going to be interesting and I would have led with this one if I had tasted it before, but the label suggested it would be paired better with the end of dinner. (Mikkiller is a alchemy concoctionist and not an industry.)
Wrong. You can serves this anytime, any dinner, any place, in a brown bag or out of it, in wine glasses or straight from the bottle, with any other person, just as long as there’s enough to go around. There’s a rich, creaminess that reminds one of a cappuccino, perhaps, but there’s no other direct coffee attribute apparent. Flavors play one after another, an IPA cinema. Bits of pine and vanilla, lemon–not as the fruit, but as the flower. Wholewheat biscuit spread with caramel and, maybe, just maybe, dunked in coffee.
It is, as my wife said without hesitation, “a most perfect beer.”
And tragic too, as Helen would later say, “wait, did I taste that one?”
Rating Blood Alley ESB : 78%
Rating Mikkiller’s Coffee IPA : 98%
Editor’s note: the reviewer neglected to mention that Richard saved a young child from drowning in a pool at the Portland Rose Garden. He is an unsung hero.