beer column

Beer News:

A-Frame Brewing is now open in Squamish.  They’re open Wednesday through Sunday and have an opening line up of: Okanagan Lake Cream Ale, Magic Lake Porter, Elfin Lakes Belgian Ale and Sproat Lake Dry Hopped Pale Ale.  I’m noticing a theme in their beer names...

Old Yale Brewing in Chilliwack just got their lounge endorsement, so you can get full 20oz flights or 12 and 16oz pours now, with a selection of food options as well.

New Year’s Eve beer events: 

There’s a party at Darby’s Gastown.  Reserve your seat now!  They’ll be featuring limited releases from Strange Fellows, Deschutes, Four Winds and more.  No tickets to buy or set menus, just reserve a seat and show up to pay as you go.

Big Rock UrbanBrewery is having a party that will ring in the new year six times!  Beginning at the far East of Canada, with a shot of Newfoundland Screech, they will count down the new year in each time zone of Canada.  $60 gets you your screech, and a maple champagne cocktail every hour.  There will be a buffet and live entertainment.  And if you give them an extra $10 you can go back again for the all-you-can-eat brunch buffet on New Year’s Day
Yaletown Brewpub’s new year’s party tickets are $40.  You get a pizza buffet, photo booth, and happy hour drink specials after midnight.
Trading PostTaphouse in Langley is hosting a four course set menu beer pairing dinner.  Tickets are $60.  There’s a party afterward too, to get you through the rest of the night, or if you’ve already got dinner plans. $30 gets you nibbles and live music.

The Trading Post tasting room is also hosting a party – no tickets required for this one.  They’ll have a special cask and beer cocktails and live music.

Beer Pairings for Holiday Feasting:

Christmas is coming – the goose is getting fat!  And it would pair really nicely with a Belgian Dubbel.  You can go traditional with a Chimay Premiere (that’s the red one) or keep it local with a Krampus from StrangeFellows, or a Dageraad Brune.  The dark fruit and spice of the beer can stand up to the heavy flavour of the goose.  These beers also pair nicely with lamb, duck, brisket or a roast.  Or so I’ve heard!  I’m a vegetarian, so I’m not much of a source for meaty beer pairings!

What I do know is that it’s not the easiest thing to find one beer that will pair perfectly with all the different dishes and their flavours that make up many a holiday meal.  But before you despair about finding one, there are a couple of general guidelines that can help you:

First, there are no hard and fast rules for beer pairing.  Complementing or contrasting flavours are the two basic ways to go, but within those, you can go so many different places.  So the best non-rule is to drink what you like!

Complementing is when you match like flavours, like a chocolate stout with your chocolate cake.  Contrasting is when you pair opposites – like a sour beer with a sweet dish.  This can also be used to balance flavours.  Using the sweet maltiness of beer to counter the saltiness of a dish, or the bitterness in a hoppy beer to cut the sweetness. 

A more carbonated beer will cleanse your palate between bites of food, and cut through fat.  Like the Dubbel already mentioned, or a saison.  While both are carbonated, if you’re going with lighter fare, like turkey or tofurky, the saison might be more pleasing.  The yeast and sweetness complement the gravy and the veggies, while the earthy spiciness brings out the flavours in the meat.

If you’re overwhelmed by trying to choose a beer that will work with all the dishes, you could choose your favourite part of the meal and pair your beer to that.  If mashed potatoes are your thing, maybe you’d like to drink a cream ale to mimic that smooth mouthfeel.  If it’s all about tart cranberry sauce for you, pair with a lambic.  For latkes, a golden ale is lovely.  With pecan pie, something bourbon barrel aged is fantastic.  Pilsner is a dream with dim sum.

Or if you have the inclination, you could try a variety of beer styles taster flight style and see which ones work with the most dishes.  If you take notes, you can use that information next year.  If not, no worries, try it again at your next big dinner!

If you’re the one doing the cooking, you can always use beer in the food, and then serve that beer alongside that course for an easy pairing.

Beer Picks:

They’re all ipas this week:

Luppolo Brewing has a lovely double ipa available at the brewery for tasters and growler fills.  Using five northwest hop varieties gives it aromas of peach, melon and citrus zest.  Be careful – this one is 8% but tastes like 5%!

Twin Sails Two Straws Milkshake ipa:  This one is thick – you’ll need two straws!  It is brewed with lactose (hence the milkshake name) and lots of mango and pineapple.  Get this very limited release before it’s gone.  At the tasting room in Port Moody. 6.5%

SuperFlux Happyness:  Formerly known as Machine Ales when they brewed at Callister, this is their most recent offering under the SuperFlux name.  Happyness is a 7% ipa that’s bright and clean and fruity.  4-packs of cans will be hitting liquor stores any day now.


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