Poutine AND Craft Beer in Fredericton!
C'mon, tell me that poutine isn't right up there with hockey, maple syrup, and beer that doesn't taste like water, in the "things Canadian" hierarchy. As I write, the first round of the NHL playoffs is in progress. We in Fredericton live just up the road from the home of the world pond hockey championships in Plaster Rock. Maple syrup festivals are happening everywhere (the 34th annual Sugar Bush Festival took place in early March at Kings Landing). The 5th annual Fredericton Craft Beer Festival also took place this past March. It only seems natural that poutine gets its time as well.
Fried potatoes covered in cheese and gravy... awesome right? Whether you are a purist who believes poutine is "only" fries, 'squeaky' cheese and gravy, or someone more adventuresome who accepts the dish as anything with potato, cheese, and sauce, the Fredericton poutine festival (April 29) has something for you. My recommendation? Get adventurous... the fest won't disappoint. As just a few examples, let me tell you about a few I tried at the festival a year ago, in April 2016.
To start, how about a donair poutine courtesy of the James Joyce? House made donair meat, squeaky cheese, charred tomato, green onion, kale slaw, and house made donair sauce.
From Relish, "The Wise Guy", pancetta lardons, balsamic drizzle, hot banana peppers, grated parmesan, cheese curds, with a peppercorn gravy.
From Smokes Poutinerie, a bacon chicken ranch poutine
From King Street Ale House, a poutine with cured, smoked pork belly, their signature smoky beast gravy, squeaky cheese, and a blueberry BBQ sauce.
From MAC's and King's Arrow Arena Canteen, the April 2016 fest winner, a belly busting "Bacon Double Cheeseburger" poutine with fires, beef, bacon, house smoked cheddar cheese, cheese curds, and their signature beef gravy.
I choose these five to tell you about simply because they were the five I managed to get into myself over the span of the evening (and for the record, each of them was great in their own way). I have attended the festival a few times now, and have tried a few different strategies to maximize my poutine sampling capacity, including sampling slowly through the night, or surging at the onset, hoping I will be able to start anew after a few beverages. Regardless of my approach, five seems to be my limit... but I continue to train!
The festival has sold out every event since 2013. Organized by Fredericton Craft Beer Festival co-founder Lloyd Chambers, the festival also includes a craft beer component. There are different tickets you can buy to attend three sessions of the event, all of which include all-you-can-sample poutine:
Session 1, from 11:30 - 1:30, is a totally family friendly version poutine and non-alcoholic beverages. Children under 12 can attend this session for free when accompanied by a ticket holding adult.
(The remaining two sessions are only open to individuals 19+)
Session 2, from 2:15 - 5:15, includes a tasting glass, and beer/cider/mead (4 - 4oz samples for a regular ticket, or 10 - 4 oz sample with the Beer Experience version).
Session 3, from 7:00 - 10:00, includes the same options as the afternoon session, but also a VIP session that includes 14 beverage sample tickets, and entrance to the event at 6pm, an hour ahead of the main crowd (my personal choice).
As of this writing (17 April 2017) there are still some tickets up for grabs (you can find them here). As in past events, there will be multiple vendors providing multiple spins on the Canadian classic. Come on out and join the fun. Try as many as you can - wear stretchy pants.