beer column

my notes from yesterday's beer column
on cbc radio one's on the coast with gloria macarenko sitting in for stephen quinn

There really is no right or wrong way to pair food and beer, it really comes down to personal taste. Different beers bring out different flavours in food, leading to different experiences. There are some guidelines, like following the three c’s – complement, contrast and cut – but the best way to find an excellent pairing is to experiment for yourself.
The theory behind “Complement” is pairing like with like: chocolate stout with chocolate dessert. 

In contrast (ha ha), the “Contrast” is just like it sounds: pairing opposites, like sweet with savoury. 

To “Cut” is to use the carbonation in beer to cut through the fat in food or to use the bitterness in beer to cut through the sweet in a dish. 

These three “c’s” are a good starting point for beer and food pairing experiments.

Usually when we talk about food and beer pairings we are referring to taking an already existing beer and consuming it with a meal or appetizers. What about making a beer specifically to pair with food?

Why not?  It seems to be an obvious step.  But as far as I know it has only happened once on a large scale.  Estrella Damm, a brewery in Spain, released their “Inedit” a few years ago.  The Inedit is a beer that was created in consultation with a chef, with the express purpose of making a beer to pair with food in general, and haute cuisine in particular.  Sold in a 750 ml bottle, it is brewed with barley malt and wheat, and flavoured with coriander, orange peel and licorice. 
Estrella Damm says it was “Made to accompany the festival of flavours offered to us by modern cuisine. For Sommeliers, trying to accommodate different types of flavours has always been a nightmare... now there is a solution!” 

And I love this solution! You can't decide which wine to serve, or you have the thought of having to open multiple bottles of wine for each course of a meal - problem solved: serve beer instead!

Why do they say it pairs so well with food?  “With its delicate, sophisticated bubbles, this beer can take acid, sweet and sour by the hand. The symphony of flavours in each dish is different, but there is a common thread capable of unifying them all, due to a sense of continuity meaning there is no need to switch drinks. This beer has a rich and highly adaptable bouquet.”

There are mixed reviews in the beer world about just how good a beer the Inedit is. Regardless, it was a novel concept to consult with a chef when brewing the beer so that food pairing was of paramount importance in its recipe. Then they went and bottled it in a 750 ml bottle to make it easier for sommeliers to convince the haute cuisine eater that this beer is on par with a wine.
What is the next step in this progression? How about brewing a beer specifically to pair with a particular meal? That would make for a perfect marriage of flavours, right?

Fortunately for local beer and food lovers, it has just happened!

The R and B Chef Series is a first-of-its-kind collaboration in Vancouver between R and B Brewing’s head brewer Todd Graham and a select group of some of Vancouver’s most acclaimed chefs. In partnership, they’re creating a series of great beers and dishes with complementary flavours - especially designed to be enjoyed together.

The Chef Series is a line of 650 ml bottles set to launch sequentially every six weeks over the summer and into the fall. Five chefs are currently lined up, with interest from many more making this a series of beers that could continue indefinitely.
On board currently are:
Chris Whittaker (Forage) - Forage is located in the Listel Hotel at the corner of Robson and Jervis in Vancouver, BC. – 1300 Robson Street
Andrea Carlson (Burdock and Co) - 2702 Main Street
Owen Lightly (Butter on the Endive) – a catering company, not a brick and mortar restaurant
Robert Belcham (Campagnolo) - 1020 Main Street
Brian Skinner (the Acorn) - 3995 Main Street, at 24th Avenue

The five participating chefs were asked to choose a beer style and unique ingredients that they personally connect with. Todd from R and B then brewed five incredibly diverse beers, each one highlighting the personality of each chef and intended to pair perfectly with some of their favourite dishes.
Says Todd Graham, R and B’s head brewer: “The variety of beer styles now available in restaurants encourages diners to choose beer as an accompaniment with their meal. The Chef Series is intended to further stimulate one’s curiosity for beer and food pairing.”
The first beer in the series is from Chris Whittaker of Forage. It launched earlier today and is a California Common ale brewed with 15 pounds of mint, ginger and local nettles. Chris Whittaker paired the beer with appies that all featured nettles – keeping it local and seasonal.
You can find the bottles of “Nettle, Mint and Ginger” in private liquor stores and at Forage starting today.
R and B is very, very happy with how the beer turned out, and sales to liquor stores have been so brisk that they actually sold out before today’s release. Which means that you, the consumer, need to get to your local private liquor store on the double if you want to get some of this beer!
A suggested pairing for this beer is halibut. 
Upcoming beers will be:
· Robert Belcham's black ESB with burnt citrus filtered with pig bone charcoal.
· Brian Skinner's balanced pale ale conditioned with locally harvested spruce tips.
· Andrea Carlson's light end of summer ale fermented with organic burdock root and sunchokes.
· Owen Lightly's ale that tastes like the sea, conditioned with oyster shells and seaweed.
Look for the next one in six weeks’ time.
Beer picks:
Obviously the Nettle, Mint and Ginger!

Also the other two California Common beers in town: 

33 Acres of Life
VCBW (Vancouver Craft Beer Week) collaboration beer, PrevAle

Yes, that last one is a bit of a cheat since I suggested it last week too, but it is a limited supply, and sales support the Music Heals Foundation, so get on it!

A reminder that Vancouver Craft Beer Week starts on Friday night. There are still tickets available for some events, the website is

For all those interested in the business of craft beer, there is a pre-Vancouver Craft Beer Week event on Thursday afternoon at the Imperial on Main Street. Called “The Business of Craft Beer” it will be a panel discussion between many of the craft beer players in town – about the state of craft beer, the business of craft beer, the future of craft beer, and is a “must attend” if you have ever thought you should get into the business of craft beer. Of course, craft beer samples are included in the ticket price.

to listen to todd graham talk about the beers with stephen quinn on the early edition
follow the link and fast forward to around the 2:30 mark

to listen to my chat with gloria macarenko on on the coast
follow the link and fast forward to around the 2:18 mark


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