Salt Spring Island Creme Brulee Vanilla Stout

saltspring_alesIt’s quite the experience when you wander off the beaten path and find something new, yet related to the things you know and like. That’s kind of how I felt when I wandered into one of the many Liqour Plus depots in Victoria that has been known to stock many of my personal favorites, plus a respectable selection of things I have not heard of from time to time.

saltspringisland_cremeAmongst the gems that appeared in this particular store was a new release  by Saltspring Island Breweries, one which was created through a collaboration with (wait for it) Liqour Plus! Yes, it seems that in addition to selling beer, wine and spirits, this particular chain of private distributors also has a hand in producing them. And this clearly-intended-for-after-dinner-pairings-with-your-dessert beer was the fruit of their labor.

Building on what is clearly becoming a tradition amongst craft brewers who produce stouts, the Creme Brulee Vanilla incorporates lactose into the brewing process to give the beer a highly smooth, almost milk-like profile. On top of that, there’s the addition of organic vanilla beans to add a dimension to the stout flavor which makes the beer live up to its name. Basically, its creamy, smooth, slightly sweet, yet full of all the characteristics true of a dark, roasted stout beer.

Appearance: Black and opaque, mild foam and carbonation
Nose: Deep, roasted malt character
Taste: Smooth, slightly sweet, hint of vanilla, mild espresso flavor
Aftertaste: Combination of vanilla and coffee-like bitterness
Overall: 8/10

I highly recommend this beer paired with an actual creme brulee. In fact, I hardly need an excuse to recommend eating creme brulee, especially when it’s infused with vanilla. Yes, I’m thinking there’s a certain restaurant up in Comox that specializes in one such desert (looking at you, Black Fin Pub) that ought to consider procuring some of this beer very soon. I shall await its arrival and time my next visit to coincide 😉

Wings!

Here is an old review, dated May 2011, of my favorite haunts to get chicken wings on the island. Be warned, I get a little fanatical when it comes to my wings. So if you don’t agree with my assessment… well, then let me know and I’ll be sure to check out any place you deem fit! Having a good wing is more important to me than being right ;):

Great wings on the island!  Yep, I’m dedicating an entire entry on the subject of chicken wings, and who does em right!  I know there are other wing enthusiasts out there and I hope they will appreciate this info.  For simplicity sake, I use a simple grading scale. 1-5, with one being the worst and 5 being the best.  Okay?  Here goes:

Avenue, Comox: 3/5  Okay, technically they’re not wings.  They are “chicken drummettes”.  What’s the difference you ask?  You pay a lot more for them and there aren’t that many!  But they are nevertheless tasty and satisfying, both in terms of meatiness and flavor.

Christie Carriage House, Victoria: 3.5/5  Not bad, both the Louisiana and the Five Alarm are spicy and relatively plump.  Except on Wing Night!  Then they get a bit skinny, but everybody knows wing night when they get rid of their B-grade stuff, and its cheap, so you pretty much get what you pay for!  Otherwise, not the best I’ve had, but pretty good overall!  Also best when enjoyed with a nice cold brew, and the house has many taps!

Craig Street Brewery, Duncan: 5/5 Yep, best wings I’ve had on the island.  Not only is the chicken healthy (that is to say, neither the hormone-fed tasteless variety, nor the skinny kind), the sauce is awesome.  My favorite is the suicide hot!  Holy crap it’s hot!  And best when washed down with a few of their microbrews.

Fat Teddy’s, Mount Washington: 2.5/5  What can I say?  You get what you pay for, and Fat Teddy’s isn’t exactly gourmet.  It’s a nice place to sit and have an after-ski beer, and these wings fit that bill just fine.  And they got a relatively nice spicy number, though I suspect its just Franks Red.

Longwood Brewpub, Nanaimo: 4.5/5  Runner up to the Craig’s.  Plump and delicious, and the beer-b-q sauce is one of the best I’ve ever had.  It comes in at a close second for one reason only, no spicy flavors!  I need a little kick in my wings.

Lorne Pub, Comox: 1/5  Worst wings I’ve had since moving to the island, possibly ever!  Not only were the wings dry and emaciated, they were over fried and the sauce came on the side!  And it was obviously just a cup of tabasco!  What the hell man!

Spinnakers, Victoria: 3.5/5  Not bad, definitely not bad.  But not exactly stellar given the ostentatious nature of their menu and beer.  The beer-b-q sauce sure is decent enough, and the chicken is neither too plump nor too skinny.  But dang it if I don’t want a spicier flavor on the menu!

Swan’s Brewpub, Victoria: 3/5  Nothing to write home about, but they’re not offensive, /just not very special.  They aren’t very plump, and the sauces, while somewhat creative (beer-b-q flavor is never a bad idea!), don’t put them over the top.

The Black Fin, Comox: 3.5/5  These are a little harder to rank.  Pound for pound, the Fin makes a damn good wing.  They’re plump and the Louisiana sauce is hot, hot, hot!  On the other hand, they don’t always add up to a pound!  Ten bucks is a lot to pay for a mere hand-full.  If they get this squared away, they can expect a better review.

Note: this list has seen been updated due to some changes and one instance of fire. To the Lorne, my humble apologies for criticizing your wings. Had I know Comox’s most historic building was about to burn down, I would have kept my mouth shut and warned you about the impending crisis! Rest In Peace!