03 Dec beer without the belly: a lesson in what brew to pair with food
We all know how well a wine goes with a succulent cut of steak, cheese and other finger foods, hell, anything really if paired well, but it’s time you move up a little and create some room for beer. I mean beer has many fans and the very-much-alive craft movement only requires we learn how to incorporate our favorite brews more. Mo and I were invited to Beer Without The Belly, a gastro event hosted by the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC) Culinary School. Beer enthusiasts, brewers and novices (looking at you Mo) sat down to a 5 course meal to learn about food and beer pairings. As a fan of alcoholic beverages I was in my element, sipping, munching away and taking notes!
At the welcome station, Stella Artois and an amber ale went well with Sustainable Oysters, Acadian Caviar and cold Water Shrimp- loved it!
For amuse-bouche, fancy speak for a single bite-sized hors d’oeuvre, Asparagus and Clam broth. This was tasty and it was paired with a Weissbrau, which was a light wheat ale with distinct banana notes. I highly recommend this beer to any beer lovers, particularly on warm summer nights when you want cold quality and not that flat disappointment from a certain Corona. Yeah I said it!
The first course, a trio of salads was accompanied by a dark Amber Lager. For my local crew, if you are a fan of Nova Scotian craft beers but also want the pleasure of a classic European larger, I’d suggest Spindrift Coastal Lager, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Also, this meal introduced me to dulse seaweed! OMG! It was wrapped around the scallops and tasted amazing. If you ever come across some of this seaweed, when dried one should crumble it over a salad and just enjoy how it brings an extra dose of flavor! I’m inclined to agree.
For intermezzo, a palette-cleansing pause, we had the coolest pairing of the whole entire dinner; a beer float! Not root beer, but BEER FLOAT!! Bruh! Imagine Orange Sorbet floating around in Shock Top beer! If you are unfamiliar with this beer, it’s a fruity Belgian ale which is a bonafied summertime thirst quencher – yes, now imagine that with a refreshing sorbet. Brilliant!
The main course which was a crispy duck breast which was served with yuba rice, duck leg confit, braised kale and slow roasted pearl onion. It was paired with a Stout. Ok, I’ve always found stout to be disgusting. And I’ve always eyed stout drinkers, or worse yet Guinness drinkers with an ounce of suspicion. BUT I kinda enjoyed drinking this stout to be honest. I may be turning into a believer.
For dessert, dark chocolate pecan tart. Firstly, I’m not a fan of dark chocolate. Secondly I do not like nut brown ale. I took a sip of the beer *meh* wasn’t great. Then I took a bite of the dessert, and to my surprise the dark chocolate was tolerable. Then I took another sip of the beer and suddenly, the beer was kinda delicious. So I went back and forth with the two until the whole plate was finished and the beer glass was just about empty. Alone these two things have never been high on my list of things I enjoy, but together, lawd I loved them. And I think this was fitting because that is exactly why we need to learn about what food to pair with what beer because we are evidently missing out on gems out of ignorance. I say no more!
So there you have it fellas, and our lady beer lovers. Beer can be enjoyed without the belly, and can be just as awesome on your table as wine has been for ages. The most important lesson offered to us; start light, and go darker as meal goes. Time to switch it up!
Until Next Time,
Dinner was hosted at Fresh Twenty One Restaurant, a fine-dining teaching and learning restaurant run by the NSCC Akerley Campus Culinary Program. Lunch and dinner service is offered during the fall and winter school terms. Click here for details.