Charity beer to debut during Craft Beer Week in Vancouver 

Whistler talent tapped to help create fundraising ale to benefit farmers

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You may remember or have heard of Live Aid and Farm Aid. The idea of people doing what they do for charity one day or a few days out of the year isn't new, but a group of people in the beer business has put a new twist on an old bottle cap.

Last year, several craft breweries got together and created a collaborative brew for charity.

The end result?

A cool brew and $1,294 for Japanese tsunami relief from the sale of the small batch of beer.

The 2011 idea was a hit so beer drinkers are happy charity beer is back again this year.

Derrick Fanche from the High Mountain Brewing Company in Whistler says he helped in the production of Collaboration Ale along with 29 other B.C. craft brewers.

Jack Bensley of Russell Brewing Co. and Gary Lohin of Central City Brewing created the recipe and headed up the initiative. They invited brewers from all over the southwestern part of B.C. to be involved.

Franche says his involvement was mostly symbolic.

"I basically went in to look handsome and dig out some of the mash ton," says the brewer at the Whistler Brewhouse. "It sort of ends up being sort of like one of those situations where it becomes too many chefs in the kitchen kind of thing."

But in the name of charity it helps to have a bunch of spare brewers in the creation of a collaborative brew.

The brew is a Cascadian brown ale under production at the Russell Brewing Company in Surrey. According to the folks at Russell Brewing, this ale uses grains donated by Canada Malting. When the kegs are ready to be tapped and caps popped off the bottles, beer drinkers will have a traditional English ale with a nutty, medium-body and a slight hoppy West Coast twist.

Drinkers can feel good because drinking this beer makes a difference in the world.

The proceeds from this small batch of beer will go to the Farmland Defense League of B.C.

The collaborative concoction will debut during Vancouver Craft Beer Week on May 18. There are only three batches so finding this beer might be a challenge. It will be available on tap at a few locations and in 650ml bottles available at a few private liquor stores.

"This is a great project," says Andrew Harris, the president of Russell Brewing. "It bands the craft brewing industry together to celebrate the art of brewing small-batch beers while raising money for a charity."

Whistler Top Chef goes big again

The big lesson for Whistler sous chef Jimmy Stewart from this week's episode of Top Chef Canada is simple: stop gambling with foam.

The show this week starts with hockey star Colby Armstrong of the TO Maple Leafs asking the 11 remaining cheftestants on the television show to whip up a hockey snack using chips from Tostitos.

Stewart is a hockey player himself so the challenge relates to his life. During the challenge Stewart says Armstrong heard a steady stream of taunts from Stewart, who is a big Vancouver Canucks fan.

"I will sacrifice any Quickfire to support my Canucks," Stewart says after the airing of the episode.

Armstrong's comment while tasting the bite-size snack generates laughs.

"Call that a one-timer?" Armstrong asks.

Host Lisa Ray orders Stewart down to the minors for his nacho-inspired dish and according to Stewart, chirping at Armstrong about the superiority of the Canucks wasn't helping. At least he's in the minors with his buddy Jonathon Kurecki, who also fails to impress with his hockey snack.

The Elimination Challenge is based on food through the decades and a foul language-filled kitchen scene follows.

Stewart's food represents the 1960's and his inspiration is man landing on the moon.

"They don't show it but they give us sheets of what happened in that decade," says the Bearfoot Bistro sous chef. "To me one of the most significant things happening to mankind was travelling to outer space and getting to the moon and coming back safe."

He says he likes modern ideas so he comes up with ideas of what goes into space and that is how he comes up with the idea to create aerosol cheese on a fancy cracker.

His dish goes well until the judges arrive and the aerosol stops working so the cheese doesn't come out the way he wants.

"I had to tell my buddy Xavier to run to the kitchen to get another CO2 canister," says Stewart. In the long period of time with no ability to get the cheese sprayed onto his dish Stewart says he's listening to non-stop harassment about his failed foam.

"You looked like the faltering space ranger," says head judge Mark McEwan as the judges are criticizing the four worst dishes of the day.

Top Chef Canada fans will see Stewart next week as Tofino's Joel Aubie's knives are now packed and Stewart gets to chop for another week.

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