Last week I was invited to an event by the Muskoka Brewery that I knew would be a great time. The invite was for a craft beer and bar snack tasting…. a beer pairing party. I once attended a beer and cheese tasting that I absolutely loved so I knew this would be a fun-filled event with good beer and food. I also knew I would learn about the craft beer industry. Boy was I right on with that prediction.
Upon meeting co-founder Gary McMullen the passion he has for his beer is CLEARLY evident. Gary is lucky enough to have found his passion while home brewing and was able to grow that passion into his livelihood.
When I arrived at the venue, the fabulously ambient Hintonburg Public House (HPH) in Ottawa, I was overwhelmed by the expertise of the other invitees. Talk of I.P.A.’s, hops and other craft beer terms quickly overwhelmed me. Once the food and beer pairings began all the expert beer talk no longer mattered to me. What mattered were the beer and the food. What mattered was whether or not I liked the beer and how the beer and the food complimented each other and heightened each others flavours. I learned what I like about each beer and how to pair it to compliment both the beer and the food. You can learn more about pairing beer and food on the Muskoka Brewery website.
The fun that Chef Phil had creating the pairings was evident when he appeared from the kitchen to describe each pairing.
First up was Summer Weiss that was perfectly paired with summery salad that highlighted Nova Scotia lobster, Quebec raspberries, fresh peas and shoots, tarragon and lemon. The salad paired perfectly with the refreshing and delicious thirst quenching beer. Perfect pairing for a patio on a hot summer day.
Next up we were treated to Cream Ale paired with a Chicken Poutine. Yes a Chicken Poutine. I am partial to all Cream Ales and Muskokas version delivers all that I love about it. Paired with a Poutine… well that is just a bonus. The Cream Ale is smooth and rich with a little sweetness. An overall very smooth beer… making it one of my favorites.
Our third offering was with the popular Detour paired with Spicy Beer Nut Slaw. Detour highlighted the spicy of the slaw and I loved that! The spicy beer nuts are a HPH house specialty and topped the slaw perfectly. Cabbage, carrot, sweet peppers, kohlrabi mixed with a ginger sesame vinaigrette paired perfectly with the clean Detour taste.
Last but not least we had parings offered with Mad Tom and Twice as Mad Tom. The name is always a conversation starter for this beer. Gary says he is often asked `Who is Mad Tom` and his reply is `Who do you think he is?`. To me Mad Tom is a pair of great beers that Chef Phil paired perfectly. Mad Tom was served with the famous HPH Burger that is topped with smoked cod mayo, field tomato, butter lettuce and crispy onions. Mad Tom has a touch of sweetness that worked really well with the saltiness of the cod mayo.
The Twice as Mad Tom was the strongest of the offerings of the day. It was paired with Blue Ermite Cheese from Saint Benoit de Lac, green beans and beets. No picture available as my camera dies. I know…. bad blogger. I can tell you that all the flavours mixed and mingled perfectly. The sharp and salty flavours of the blue cheese and the sweetness of the beets played well with the bitterness of the soft hop flavour that Twice as Mad Tom offered.
A great big thank you to Gary McMullen and Scott Lewin for all of the knowledge that you shared about craft beer and Muskoka Brewery. Your passion is evident. Thank you to Chef Phil for the wonderful offerings from your kitchen. I can not wait to use all the tips you both shared to host my own food and beer pairing.
Connect with Muskoka Brewery
View their story here: https://vimeo.com/63761536