Posts from Oliver

Focus Friday: Winter in the Vineyard

Snow between the rows of the local vineyards and orchards makes for spectacular patterns this time of year. Richard spotted these near Oliver, with so many interesting textures and variations. Not sure if it’s been cold enough to pick the coveted ice-wine grapes yet, but it must be close.

Winter in the Vineyards by Richard McGuire

Firehall Brewery Increases Capacity & Develops New Label

Article Submitted by Sid Ruhland / Submit Your Own Article

The Firehall Brewery on Main Street in Oliver, British Columbia has doubled its cold storage capacity this November to keep up with demand. Aging tanks were ordered & picked-up from Interior Stainless, a tank manufacturer in Summerland, BC. Firehall Brewery’s “Stoked Ember Ale” continually sold out during the summer of 2012, triggering the investment into more storage tanks. A new beer label is being developed, utilizing the increased capacity and adding more variety to the microbrewery’s product offerings. The new beer will be a blonde ale called “Backdraft”.

The addition of new tanks is very exciting for the town of Oliver because it exemplifies the growth of the community’s first and only brewery. Not only does the brewery compliment the current agritourism in the region (wineries, fruit stands, tomato festival, grape festival, et cetera), but has begun to attract additional visitors seeking craft beer. The beer products have been promoted in town with the Back Alley Concert Series at the brewery’s beverage garden, tying music and community involvement into the core of the Firehall Brewery brand. The Firehall Brewery has attended beer festivals as far as Victoria, BC, and has gained televised exposure for itself and the Town of Oliver across the province. The craft beer industry has begun to boom in British Columbia during the last few years, coming a long way since the market was created only a few decades ago. The “Craft Beer Revolution” is not just growing in BC, but has been sweeping the globe, as beer drinkers are becoming educated about the brewing process and the beverage’s long history.

After 15 months of planning and construction, the Firehall Brewery released its first batch of beer, the “Stoked Ember Ale”, in late March of this year, shortly followed by the release of the “Holy Smoke Stout”. The third beer to be released, the “Backdraft” blonde ale, is scheduled to finish recipe development and cellaring just before the end of 2012. It will be a light session beer with a golden colour and a crisp finish.

The Firehall Brewery is a small family-owned operation, managed by a father-son team, Jim & Sid Ruhland. Sid Ruhland is an Okanagan School of Business alumnus, now applying business theory to his home-brewing skills learned in the college dorms. The brewery is “draught-only”, meaning the beer is packaged solely into kegs for local distribution to restaurants, bars and pubs. There are no current plans to invest into canning or bottling equipment. 1.89L (1/2 US Gallon) refillable jugs called “growlers” can be brought to or bought from the Firehall Brewery tasting room to be filled with draught beer to-go. Tours are available by appointment.

More Farmer’s Markets!

Some events are so much a part of our communities fabric that we take them for granted. If someone approached you and told you about an event that has over 60 vendors, 5000 attendees each week, and features family activities all summer long you would be flabbergasted.

Our farmers market is a great example of one of those events. It is one of the largest farmers markets in the BC Interior. I dropped by the market earlier this summer and interviewed Bob Callioux. Here’s the interview and a snapshot of one of our most popular local weekly events.

Kelowna Farmers & Crafters Market – Kelowna
April to October
Wednesdays & Saturdays: 8:00 am – 1:00 pm
Dilworth Dr & Springfield Rd

West Kelowna Outdoor Market
Saturdays: 8am-1pm
2466 Main Street

Penticton Farmers Market
May through October
Saturdays: 8:30 am – noon

Peachland Farmers’ & Crafters’ Market
May to September
Sundays: 10 am – 2 pm
Heritage Park, between Okanagan Lake and Beach Avenue

Osoyoos Market on Main – Osoyoos
June through August
Saturdays: 8 am – 1 pm
Town Square, Main St

Oliver Country Market A’Fair – Oliver
June to October
Saturdays: 8:30 am – 12:30 pm
Lions Park – Hwy 97N

Armstrong Farmer’s Market – Armstrong BC
April – November
Saturdays: 8 am – noon
Location: Armstrong IPE Fairgrounds

Lake Country Farmers Market – Lake Country
June to September
Fridays: 3 pm – 7 pm
10090 Bottom Wood Lake Rd

My Wife’s Notes – Silver Sage Grand Reserve – Soy Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry

Click here for recipe
Soy Ginger Chicken Stirfry

  • 1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cubed
  • 1 orange pepper, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 small white onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 head of broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 can water chestnuts
  • 1 can sliced bamboo shoots
  • 1 thumb-sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • soy sauce
  • rice wine vinegar
  • sesame oil
  • brown sugar

Cut all of the veggies and set aside in separate bowls.  Add 6 tbsp soy sauce, 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 2 tbsp brown sugar and the garlic and ginger in a bowl, mixing well.

Heat 2 tbsp sesame oil in a wok or large saucepan. When hot, add the chicken and 1/3 of the sauce mixture.  Stir constantly, cooking until the chicken is just cooked through the middle.  Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside in a warming oven.

Heat an additional 2 tbsp sesame oil in the wok, and begin cooking the vegetables. Start with the carrots first, and while stirring constantly, add the onion, water chestnuts, bamboo, peppers, broccoli, and mushrooms in that order.  Add the sauce to the mix slowly after each new vegetable is added.  Add the chicken back, mix thoroughly and simmer for two minutes.  Remove from heat, and serve over quinoa or rice.

After the craziness of December and the holidays, Alana and I took off to Mexico for a few weeks to refresh…and refresh we did.  Beach, ocean, sunshine and lime margaritas on the rocks have made me stoked and ready to take on 2012.  But I will say this: as excited as I was to come home, it was hard to leave the land of cheap fresh veggies and fish and come back to Canada to see avocados selling for $2 a piece and halibut more expensive than silver.

Annnnnd speaking of silver, let’s get talking about this wine.  A friend Lisa gave me a bottle of Silver Sage Grand Reserve, a winery I’d not heard of before.  It’s Lisa’s favorite wine and, knowing how difficult it is to find, saved a bottle for me to try.  How could one resist that?

Silver Sage Grand Reserve

I chose to pair it with a winter staple for me, a basic Soy Ginger Chicken Stir-fry.  Chock full of vegetables and chicken, this dish is a welcome relief after the heaviness of holiday food.

Soy Ginger Chicken Stir-Fry

My Notes:

The first thing you’ll notice is that this wine is almost completely colorless. Silvery, with just the slightest hint of yellow-green, it’s obvious this wine is something different.  The nose is very unique, the sage hitting strong up front, with a sweet cotton candy scent coming in at the end.  The first sip is sweet and slightly thick, with a surprisingly low acidity that creates a very smooth and long mouth-feel.  The sage is very prominent after the sweet notes have disappeared; although strong, it just stays on this side of overpowering. Unlike most white wines, this flavor profile doesn’t budge when paired with the food, with the last sip tasting virtually the same as the first.  Unusual, but intriguing.  87 points.

My Wife’s Notes:

“Whoa, it’s silver. That’s so different. *sip* It’s like…no wine I’ve ever tasted before! How unusual.”

Vote in the Civic Elections on Nov. 19

November 19, Vote in the Civic Elections like your future depends on it. ‘Cos it kinda does.
For more information, visit Castanet’s Civic Elections 2011 page.