Tonight I was invited to the launch of Stanley Park’s newest beer: their first ever dark ale. And to mark the occasion the locally brewery threw a themed night like no other. An evening full of sights, sounds and tastes, as they celebrated the launch of Shadow Play Dark Ale by Brewmaster Thom Riley.
Their goal was to help all guests embrace the dark at this elevated sensory experience. And the following is an account of the night and all the festivities we partook in.
I cannot believe I have yet to visit this tourist attraction of a landmark. Located at one of BC’s most iconic sights, sits this stunning property decked in candles. The evening was a self serve affair. The brewery’s open space bar/pub was set up with food stations and activities to engage in, and guests were given free reign to explore.
Drinks were naturally available at the bar, where you were able to try the Shadow Play Dark ale as is, or as the feature in one of two clever cocktails. Naturally, we had to start with the dark ale in its pure form. As is, it is syrupy brew, that gave me pings of molasses; and a thickness to akin to Guinness, but a lot smoother. It drank easy and kept you going back for gulps.
Similarly, both cocktails were given body from the beer and took from its mild sweetness. The Embrace the Dark cocktail was my favourite of the two. Grand Marnier, creme de cacao, Shadow Play Dark Ale, and an orange peel garnish. It dark luxuriously, with the goal of the mix to really accentuate the beer’s depth.
The Darkness at the Edge of Town was a more watered down cocktail by comparison. Light and effervescent, some how the beer lost its body in this. Aperol, Beefeater gin, Shadow Play Dark Ale, and an orange wedge garnish.
With all the drinking we were able to snack on a collection of rotating bites. The Prosciutto and fig skewers were a nice refreshing nibble. The salty and sweet pairing went well with tonight’s star beer.
My favourite canapé was the vegetarian friendly mini mushroom pot pies. The mushrooms were sautéed in Shadow Play and you could tell. Each one biter was salty with earthy mushrooms, hugged in a buttery crust. These were so tasty that I had 4 in total.
There were also food stations where you could grab a more complicated bite that was assemble before you. The Smoked crab cake was paired with a vegetable salad and a leek soubise. A “ Soubise” sauce is an onion sauce thickened with Béchamel sauce”, as taken from Wikipedia. The cake was a little on the dry side and really didn’t satisfy the same as the more richer dishes; especially as those tended to partner better with the Shadow Play Dark Ale, much like the below.
The Braised beef ravioli kept me coming back for 5ths. Each square was prepared in a brown butter sauce then topped with Grano Padano, hazelnuts, and micro greens. This was definitely my favourite morsel of the night. Here, I learned that the richer the dish, the better the dark ale beer tasted, paired with it. Perfectly chewy pasta stuffed with a hearty pulled beef. The nuts offered crunch, the greens peppery freshness, and the multitude of cheeses: its bold presence.
There was also two dessert options that I found too sweet. A chocolate coconut tart and a lemon curd one. Both were pretty standard in taste, and did so to expectations.
As you nibbled, sipped, mixed and mingled, you were given free reign of the first floor. Freedom to explore and engage in the planned activities of the night.
For decor, laser cut wooden orbs hung from the ceiling and found its way propped up on tables. Given the dark of the night and the glow of the bar’s lights, these pieces of art added to the shadow and light theme amazingly. You were even able to touch and spin a few to bring the art installation alive. They are made by Sacred Light Design, and we all walked home with a souvenir from them as well.
For our activity there was an electronic wall that you could digitally graffiti, with controller spray cans. Either play alone or with a friend. Spray to colour in or spray to create, half the fun is in doing, and the other half to step back and admire what you have done. Said design wall was by Tangible Interaction.
And nothing set a mood like a great live band. And tonight’s musical menu was brought to us by Brock Phillips & Friends. They set the mood and I thoroughly enjoyed their Black Keys cover. www.instagram/com/brockphillipsmusic.
Over the course of the night, we would learn of the history of this Dark Ale in the making. How the Stanley Park team had been working on it for a while now, and how they were able to create a really drinkable ale. How they were influenced by UK style dark ales, in its dry and clean notes.
We also celebrated how Stanley Park Brewing has won the title of World’s best hazy pale ale in the World Beer Awards. So naturally I had to try this hops forward lip pucker. It starts of easy drinking and abruptly gives you a bitter finish. I am impressed by its title, but out of personal preference, this wasn’t for me. I would stick to the Shadow Play Dark Ale end of the spectrum instead.
In short, I can now see why Stanley Park Brewing threw their new beer a party. Having something so versatile and tasty, just beckons to be acknowledged. Available in stories, but best out from the tap, located in the brewery it was fermented in.
Stanley Park Brewing Restaurant & Brewpub
8901 Stanley Park Dr, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2