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Two Rivers, burgers & beers tasting

Tonight we were at Two Rivers butcher shop and bistro for their first ever Burgers & Beers tasting class. This is just one of a handful of interactive classes that they have started hosting; to not only feed their customers, but teach them more about the meat that they were consuming.

The event was held in the bistro’s dining area for 30 guests, where we were welcomed to claim any seat and make ourselves comfortable. We were then greeted with a welcome beer by featured, local, North Vancouver Brewery: Wildeye. They would be hosting the event in conjunction with Two Rivers.

This is the Wildeye’s German light lager offering a smooth start to our evening.

This workshop came about when both parties were sharing a meal and thought it would be a great idea to further share such an experience with their combined customers, as this event.

The theme was the origin of hamburgers: where they come from, starting with Hamburg steak. This is an import from Germany, with Germans bringing it with them on to US soil. Minced, spiced, pressed, and lightly cooked ground beef. Barely browned, it is much like what we know beef tartare to be today.

The meat in bun eventually came about as a need to make the popular dish above travel ready. Where it started off as toasted white bread slices at “Louis’ Lunch”, the first to sell hamburgers. And eventually evolved as “White Castle” was the firsts to introduce the hamburger bun, with their squared patty and matching bun.

The night officially began with introductions and a live demo from the owner of Two Rivers, Jason Pleym. He warmed the crowd up by showing us how to prepare beef tartare, to impress any house guests. This is Grass-finished beef tartare, meaning the cow in question only ate grass before it was slaughtered for its meat to harvest.

Here, we learned that for your tartare you want to highlight good quality meats, but the cut doesn’t make too much of a difference. Although you want up use raw beef from the outer layer of the cow, as apposed to any by its organs, to avoid any possibility of e-coli. At the end of the day the meat gets chopped up fine and the original cut is moot.

And whereas you mostly see beef tartare minced up fine, we learned that it is based on preference and Jason likes to leave his chunkier, offering more texture in the chew. And he encouraged all of us to be just as adventurous in choosing our own gauge of cut.

Once sliced, diced, and tossed he dressed it heavily with salt, pepper, and olive oil; finishing it with grated cured egg yolk. We each got a spoonful of this live demo to tasting, and I would have liked more of the latter. It was good, but for mouthfeel it left me looking for a base, and I would eventually save it to have as another ingredient in one of the burgers below.

However, as intended, the regular service order offers a side of crispy crostini to spread your raw minced meat over.

We then moved on to the main show, continuing to travel through the ages, following our burger time line. The classic smashed patty in bun, with not more than meat and bread.This is Two River’s take on an original style of burger, but smashed. Given some grace with the addition of a thick slice of cheddar for added flavour. Traditionally it was just bread and meat, with onions as the first and original condiment.

This was paired with Wildeye’s Original Czech Pilsner, created after a trip to the Czech Republic, by founder Sam to learn about their beer making process and incorporate it into their own. The result is this ended up being one of the first Czech Pilsner in Vancouver, when the craft beer landscape was all just dark ales. The Pilsner itself has a longer flavour profile and is not skunky on the palate. Interestingly enough, it is made with soft water from North Vancouver, similar to the water they use in the Czech Republic.

Our second burger sees the introduction of cost saving measures. Ways to save money from its increased popularity and high demand. We start to see fillers in the beef patty like breadcrumbs and eggs, and as a result an all around larger patty.

This is a take on the 1950’s backyard BBQ burger, made by dad on the grill. Cheddar, red onion, tomato, lettuce, pickles, and mayonnaise.

Paired with the Wildeye Half Day Hazy Pale Ale. With this you get the punch of a hazy, but it is a lot more palatable. Described as both juicy and hoppy, as well as drier and lighter, this is one of their newer beers with a fruiter and fluffier mouthfeel. As a pairing, it helped to cut into the more condiment-heavy burger.

And as we waited for our next two burger and beer pairings, guests were treated to Two River’s famous tallow fries. Crispy thick cut potato sticks, fried in animal fat for an extra layer of lush flavour. The perfect side as we transitioned into some modern burgers.

Our next slider course featured a dry aged patty, where it exemplified the gaminess of the aged meat, rich in flavour.

We also got a quick tutorial on the art of rotting beef and how they do it. Similar to this, other tidbits on how Two Rivers sources and treat their meat was sprinkled in throughout the evening. Like how as a direct from farm to restaurant business they focus on meats without fillers and preservatives. Revealing that you don’t need preservatives in your meat because you can freeze beef for 10 months and it will still be good for consumption, as per Health Canada.

And that when it comes to farming they require 6lbs of grain for every 1 pound of cow flesh. And in order to optimize this process of feeding the cows they utilize a feed yard. This is a pen machine that drops calculated food into the troth. One of the newer inventions as farmers consistently look for the most efficient way to feed and slaughter their livestock.

This course was all about how to differentiate themselves and make things better; so to pair with Two River’s dry aged burger, Wildeye’s had their Hazy IPA Neo Nectar. This is claimed as their best expression, a mix procured through trial and error. You get the haziness from not filtering and where the yeast does not settle out. It is a double dry hop with notes of passion fruit and guava.

Our last slider was a bison burger, to showcase that they don’t just do beef. And the owner Jason spoke to bison being the original cow. For condiments there was a tart raspberry and mustard spread that balanced out the gaminess of the beef, coupled with an herbaceous minty green chutney for freshness. This one was very unique.

The workshop talk then transitioned into regenerative agriculture, and how to protect the soil from such animals as the bison, who simply ate the soil and its health. The discussion then turned to what grass to feed animals to get the ideal quality of meat, like
the inter-muscular marbling of AAA certified beef. The goal is to analyze meat and food grown in nutrient dense soil and observe the benefits, to be able to source the best yield.

And just like the burger, we had a completely different beer to go with it. This is Wildeye’s Freedom Lager, intended to be their “crushable beer”, competing in the spiked soda water category in a familiar and similar tall and slim can. At 4% it is a lower ABV for a lighter taste and not a lingering one. At its base it has the same quality water and malt as their Czech lager above, but with the real fruit flavour of orange. Not orange from synethic flavour oils, but orange slices that have been freeze dried, dehydrated, then ground into power. Once added into the malt mix it rehydrates and flavours the beverage with a very clean orange flavour that kicks in after.

And for dessert we each got one of their Chocolate chip tallow cookies. I have had it served cooled at the recent Brewery & The Beast, so can say with full confidence how much more amazing it was served warm and melty from the oven. Oozy chocolate chunks, crispy cookie crust, and the robust richness of the tallow in tow. I would recommend visiting just for this cookie.

And if all the above wasn’t enough, each guest in attendance also walked away with a $10 voucher to Two Rivers Meats, a free flight voucher at Wildeye Brewing, and a chance to win their summer burger prize pack.

The latter of which I actually ended up winning, from the random draw. My take away was a 4 pack of the Wildeye’s Czech Pilsner, which we all loved so much; a bottle of their fermented gose; a branded tee shirt; and a Wildeye Brewery dine in experience with flights, appetizers, and mains for two. From Two Rivers this amazing prize bundle included a $50 giftcard to use at either their butchery or bistro, a box of their new flavoured beef jerky, and two of their branded tees including the tomahawk one I have bee coveting. I was ecstatic to claim all of this, but honestly thought they should’ve split the prize up and had at least three other winners.

In short, this is a great experience and one that I will definitely look into doing again. Not only do you get to enjoy good food, but get to learn about where it comes from and where it is going. As feedback, it would have been nice to be able to watch at least one of the burgers get assembled to order, to know what went into each. As well as have a microphone for each speaker. It was hard to hear them past then kitchen’s exhaust fan, especially from where we were sitting by the kitchen bar. And the use of some visuals to capture and keep the crowd. Pictures to accent the educational components.

Nonetheless I look forward to their burgers and beers tasting part two and any of their future events as well.

Two Rivers Meats
180 Donaghy Ave, North Vancouver, BC V7P 2L5

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