So March 25th marked a really interesting moment in my beer learning adventures. For the first time in my life I attended a beer pairing dinner.
The dinner, put on by Mirella Amato’s Barley’s Angels, a group dedicated to educating women about the wonderful world of beer and hosted by Guy McClelland of McClelland Premium Imports and “Beer Knight”. The venue was at one of my local places, the Town Crier, which has an AMAZING selection of European beers on tap. Plus I’ve been bugging the owner to get involved with Toronto’s beer geeks, so it was great to see the place involved.
On top of it being my first pairing dinner, it was also my first time going to a meet of the famous Barley’s Angels. It was so great to meet women of all different backgrounds coming together to learn something about a fabulous beverage.
So expectations were pretty high. Mirella is a giant in the Toronto beer scene and Guy has been responsible for bringing some top class Belgian and German beers to this godforsaken province.
So beer/food dishes included…
1. Beet salad with orange goat cheese & Belgian endives with Fruli and Radler dressing with Fruli beer (An interesting, refreshing and sweet start to a meal)
2. Smoked German sausage wrapped in Falian ham with braised green onion & German mustard with Erdinger Dunkel (Dear LORD, what a wonderful dish that was. Went well with the Dunkel, too!)
3. Belgian poutine with miso gravy and cheese curds with Delirium Tremens (The gravy was a bit watery and some of us found that pairing it with Palm Ale proved a better match)
4. Beer braised beef short ribs with Affligem Abbey Ale (This dish just melted in my mouth. And the pairing with the Affligem made for a wonderful experience. I STILL have dreams about this course)
And on top of that we had in-between beers such as Stiegl-Radler (Beer with grapefruit juice!), Stiegl Lager (refreshing!) Erdinger Weiss (nice crisp taste) and Palm Ale (sweet with a nice bitter finish). And all of this went with an educational talk by Guy McClelland where we learned about “The Perfect Pour”, the importance of drinking your beer from a glass (and the right glass at that) and the effects of light on clear bottles (The beer goes skunky and foul after 30 seconds in the sun). Also learning about the sales statistics in Canada and getting a better idea of craft beer’s emerging role was incredibly useful information.
So what did I think of the experience? Well, I definitely had a good time and learned quite a bit more about beers in Germany, Belgium and their influence in Canada. While I must admit that I would have liked to have learned more about the art of pairing beer with food rather than just the beer, I still learned quite a lot and got some experience with my taste buds that I’ll be storing away for future consideration.
And I really have to give credit to Guy and Mirella for being amazing hosts at the event. It was great to meet them both. Guy clearly knew his stuff and had a great passion for it and Mirella was a pleasure to talk with.
I was really pleased with this night. I felt it lived up to my expectations and didn’t let me down. I definitely would not say no to another oppurtunity to go to one again because if anything you’re learning more about how complex and wonderful beer is and turning the experience of drinking a beer in to the experience of having it be a part of a perfect meal. It’s a good thing to learn.