Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co.

A couple of weeks ago a friend and neighbour of mine spent a few days in the Ottawa area where he picked up some Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. Lug•Tread Lagered Ale.  He was kind enough to give us a couple of bottles.  I finally opened one last night and was thoroughly impressed.

Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. was founded in July 2006 in Vankleek Hill about an hour east of Ottawa.  The father and son team of  Tim and Steve Beauschenes are the founders of the brewery.  In fact, Tim’s whole family plays some part in the company.  When I looked it up on the internet I was happy to see the brewmaster is Matt O’Hara who was assistant brewer at Denison’s Brewpub when I worked there many years ago. 

Beau’s beers are all made using organic ingredients and as of June of this year the beers have been certified organic.  The brewery has been met with lots of enthusiasm and are struggling to keep up with demand.

The Lug•Tread Lagered Ale has been top fermented like an ale, then cold aged, like a lager, for a lengthy period.  This creates light ale notes supported by a crisp lager character.  It has a golden amber colour with aromas of yeast, fresh baked bread, and honey, with very fruity aromas as well.  It is a fairly light-bodied beer with a pleasant, soft mouthfeel and subtle flavours of yeast and fruit.  It’s has a  refreshing, crisp, hoppy finish.

The beer’s lightness makes it a great warm weather beer and would pair well with many lighter foods, such as chicken, salmon, salads, pork, etc.  However, it would also be a nice match with turkey.  Christmas turkey! (Xmas is only 57 days away, in case you were wondering.)

beau's beer

Beau's all Natural Brewing Co. Lug*Tread Lagered Ale

Currently, the beer comes in a ceramic bottle with a swing top stopper.  (See photo).  A new bottling line is soon to be installed at the brewery and they will change to a 600 ml glass bottle.  I kind of like the uniqueness of the ceramic bottle. 

Unfortunately, Beau’s all Natural Brewing Co. beers are only available as far west as Kingston, Ontario.  Eventually they may expand distribution but as they are only a very small brewery, they’ll also need to increase production in order to meet the high demand. 

A couple of years ago, Beau’s began producing seasonal beers.  Bogwater is a winter seasonal that’s seasoned with bog myrtle instead of hops.  Festivale Altbier is the summer seasonal and Nightmarzen will come out in the fall (it’s possibly already available).  In the spring of 2010 they will release Beaver River IPA as a spring seasonal.  Unfortunately, I haven’t tried any of these as yet.

Keep and eye on Beau’s because I think this is a brewery we’re going to see a lot of interesting things from in the near future.

Choosing the Best Beer for the Barbecue

During the summer, it seems as though just about everything we eat gets tossed on the barbi first, and that’s not a bad thing because nothing says summer like the smoky and slightly charred aromas that emanate from perfectly grilled grub.  Beer is the best beverage to match with the mouthwatering flavours of the barbecue – even better than wine.  While a red wine would pair well, a big, alcoholic Zinfandel or Shiraz may seem a bit heavy in the hot summer sun (if we ever get any).  A cold beer would be perfect, but not that mass-produced brand – a premium beer.  It’s casual enough for a relaxed outdoor barbecue, yet special enough to show your guests that you care.  Beer works very well with any barbecued food, be it beef, pork, chicken, fish, or veggies.

Anyone who has stood peering at the seemingly endless wall of labels at The Beer Store can attest to the countless number of beers on the market today.  With so many different styles available, choosing just the right one for your barbecue can seem like a very daunting task, indeed.  But, it doesn’t have to be.  Many of the same rules you use when pairing food and wine can be applied here as well.  As a broad generalization, choose a lager for dishes that you would normally pair a white wine, and an ale when you would normally pick a red wine.

Beer and Barbecue Matching Tips:

  • Balance the weight:  Light tasting beer pairs well with lighter food and more robust beer is a better match with heavier food.  The crisp, clean flavours of a pilsner complement seafood dishes, such as a lightly grilled perch.  Rounder, more robust ales, such as nut brown ales and porters, are good matches with heartier barbecued ribs and steaks.
  • Take into account the hoppiness of the beer:  Think of the bitter hoppiness of the beer as equal to the acidity in wine.  Dishes that require a wine with crisp acidity would pair well with a hoppy beer.  For grilled salmon or other fish, try a best bitter.  The hoppiness in a beer can also be likened to the tannins in a red wine.  Just as tannins can cut through protein and fat, the bitterness of a well-hopped ale, such as an American brown ale, can easily slice through a medium-rare steak, and leave your palate feeling refreshed.
  • Match the flavours:  Beer is a great match for barbecued foods because of their very similar flavour profiles.  During the grilling process, juices and fats are reduced and caramelized directly onto the meat, intensifying flavours and taking on a smoky, slightly charred character.  Beer, especially ones made with darker malt, can have the same smoky, charred, caramel flavours.  For grilled chicken with a crisp, caramelized skin, try an amber lager or British brown ale.
  • Balance the flavours:  If you have an especially spicy sauce on your ribs, a beer that has some sweetness to it, such as a British porter, will help put out some of the fire.  If you like to top your burgers with a slab of salty blue cheese, then you can also look for a sweeter beer which can help balance the saltiness in the cheese.

Don’t be afraid to experiment and be a little adventurous!  Who knows what unusual combinations will turn out to be a hit at your table.?

Beer and Chocolate – The Perfect Pairing

What could be better than chocolate paired with…beer?   Unbeknownst to many, beer pairs beautifully with a number of different foods (not just pizza and wings), including chocolate.

Ahh chocolate…good chocolate is like heaven.  Its voluptuously smooth texture melts in your mouth and goes straight to your brain, increasing endorphin and serotonin levels, giving you an overwhelming sense of well-being.  The Aztecs believed it to be an aphrodisiac and there must be something to that because today chocolate is exchanged by lovers wishing to express their passion.  Some even say that chocolate can be a substitute for sex – although I love chocolate, I wouldn’t go that far.

Yes, chocolate certainly gets lots of attention, and sommeliers and wine aficionados are forever trying to find a wine that will marry harmoniously with it.  Port has been tried with it, as has Banyuls, Icewine, and Sauternes.  Sometimes the match can be a beautiful thing, but care must be taken.  A lot of the time something is missing.  It doesn’t have that spark, that magic that makes it the perfect pairing we’re all craving.

This is where beer comes in.  Beer?  Yes, beer.  Beer, typically dark beer, has a much higher success rate with chocolate.  The reason for this is that while wine can only match the sweetness  of chocolate, beer can also match the flavours.  Beer is made with malted barley that has been roasted in a kiln.  The roast can be a very light toasting or it can be roasted to a deep black colour.  Not only does the roasting contribute to the beer’s colour, it also imparts certain aromas and flavours.  It’s very similar to the way different roasts of coffee beans create different styles in your coffee cup.  One of the darker roasts of malt used in beer making is even known as”chocolate malt” , as it is roasted to the point where it actually smells and tastes like chocolate, caramel and coffee.  Darker coloured beer, such as porters and stouts, take on these caramelized flavours, making them excellent partners to chocolate.

Chocolate and beer are similar in that they balance sweetness and bitterness.  In chocolate, the sweetnes comes from sugar while the bitterness comes from the cocoa beans.  In beer, the sweetness comes from the malt and the bitterness from the hops.  Unlike wine, it is not necessary that the beer be as sweet or sweeter than the dessert.  Beer has bitterness which allows it to cut through sugar in a way similar to that of a sip of dark roasted coffee.

Have fun and experiment with chocolate and beer.  If you find a particularly good match then share it with someone special and they’ll be very impressed with your genius.  Not only did you give them that forever romantic treat, chocolate, you also enhanced the whole experience by marrying it with a delicious beverage that flows so easily down the back of the throat.  He or she will be so grateful for that moment of gustatory enlightenment that who knows where it could lead…

Here are some beer and chocolate pairings to get you started:

Thomas Hardy’s AleThis aromatic beer has a deep amber colour with aromas of caramel, butterscotch, apricot and a hint of orange, with a fresh baked bread character.  It has a very full-body and a sweetness that is cut by the bitterness which helps prevent it from being cloying.  It’s a very flavourful and fruity beer with a lot going on.  But, be careful with this one as it has 11.7% alcohol.  It’s best to share a bottle.

Pair with:  Chocolate mousse with vanilla creme brulee.  The caramel flavours of the beer match with both the chocolate and the creme brulee.  It also has the body to stand up to the sweetness of the dessert.  The extra fruit the beer contributes just adds another dimension to this already delicious dessert.

Young’s Luxury Double Chocolate Stout:  This beer is a very dark brown colour with a nice foamy head which is just brimming with chocolate aromas.  It’s almost like a big cup of liquid chocolate.  It’s quite bitter in the mouth with slight coffee ground flavours on the finish.

Pair with: chocolate fudge brownie:  The chocolate flavours in the beer match with the brownie and the bitterness in the beer enables it to cut through the very thick brownie texture making it seem somewhat lighter and refreshing on the palate.

Mort Subite Framboise Lambic Beer:  This is a raspberry-flavoured beer made in Belgium using wild yeasts.  It is ruby-coloured and has a pronounced aroma of raspberries.  It is sweet on the palate with an almost Kool-Aid crystal raspberry flavour and a tart acidity which refreshes the palate.  It’s also a nice beer to drink on its own on a patio on a hot summer day.

Pair with: Molten chocolate cake:  Chocolate and fruit have always been great partners and this is no exception with the beer contributing raspberry flavours to the very chocolate dessert.  You can serve this beer in Champagne flutes if you really want to impress your guests.

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have had an incredible beer and chocolate experience.

Lagers and Porters and Ales, Oh My! – Pairing Beer with Food

Yes, I realize this is a wine blog, but from time I’ll be writing about other beverages as it is a good sommelier’s job to be familiar with all drinks and how they interact with food.  Recently, I’ve been doing some experimenting with beer and food pairings, so I want to share some of what I’ve learned with you.  There are many beers to chose from so hopefully this will be of some help.

You’ve got your non-wine-drinking friends coming over for dinner so you decide to go to the local LCBO to pick up a beer to go with that special recipe you’re going to whip together.  You walk up to the beer section and…Oh My!  It seems like there are hundreds to choose from.  You start reading labels- pilsner, nut brown ale, best bitter, wheat beer, stout, porter – the words go blurry.  You take a step back, your head starts to spin, your pulse races, you start to sweat….

Okay, maybe it isn’t that bad, but trying to choose from the myriad of beers available on the market can be as daunting as choosing a wine from the forty page wine list at a snooty restaurant.  It can be very intimidating to say the least.

Beer, like wine, can be a harmonious marriage with food.  Sure, we always associate beer with pizza and wings, but few people realize that beer can also be paired with more luxurious gourmet dishes.  It is possible to successfully pair a beer with each course of that fancy dinner party you’ve been planning.  I’m sure your guests, even the wine lovers, will be astounded by your creativity.  Bt, before you take on this exciting challenge, you’ll need to know a little about beer and what to consider when creating the perfect match.

Beer is essentially made with four basic ingredients: barley, hops, yeast, and water.  Sounds simple, right?  Wrong.  The brewmaster must decide on the types of barley, yeast, and hops that all impart different aromas and flavours to the beer.  The choice of malt is also a critical decision.  Malt is barley seeds that have germinated and then been roasted in a kiln.  This process softens the starch in the seed and produces an enzyme that will convert the starch to sugar.  (Yeast then metabolizes the sugar, converting it to alcohol.)  It is the colour of the malt that gives the beer its colour and also contributes to its flavour.  There are a range of malts from light malts to very dark malts.  The lighter malts contribute bready and honey flavours while the darker malts give nutty, toasty, even caramel flavours.  Think of how different roasts of coffee beans make different styles of coffee.

All beers are either lagers or ales.  It’s the type of yeast used during the fermenting process that determines if the beer will be a lager or an ale.  Ales use top-fermenting yeasts that require warmer temperatures and lagers use bottom-fermenting that prefer cooler temperatures.  The warmer fermenting temperatures of ales produce rounder, fruitier flavours, while the cooler fermenting temperatures of lagers create a crisper, cleaner taste.  Think of full-bodied, fruit-driven wines that come from such warm climates as California and Australia compared to the crisper, minerally wines that hail from the cool climate regions of Ontario and Germany.

Then there are the hops.  Hops are like the spice of the recipe.  Many believe that hops are a type of grain.  It is actually a flower.  This amazing flower has many beneficial attributes.  Not only does it act as a preservative for the beer, but it also imparts a range of flavours and aromas from floral to fruity to grassy to woodsy to earthy.  It is the hops that contribute to the bitterness of a beer.  Bitterness in a beer is essential as it balances the sweetness of the malt.  Without hops, beer would taste very sweet and almost cloying.

Within the two categories of ales and lagers are a number of different styles of beer.  Brown ales, India pale ales, cream ales, best bitters, wheat beers, porters, and stouts are all ales.   Pilsners, dunkels, and exports are all lagers.   The recipes used in the brewing process are what create the different styles of beer.

When pairing beer to food, take into account the dominant flavour characteristics of the beer, complementing and contrasting them to the flavours and attributes of the food.  Is the beer hoppy, floral, fruity, or smoky?  Does it have aromas and flavours of caramel and chocolate?  It is dry or does it have a little sweetness to it?  How was the food prepared?  What herbs and spices were used?  Is the food sweet, acidic, or savoury?  Generally speaking, choose a lager for dishes that you would normally pair a white wine with and choose an ale when you would normally pick a red wine.  The crisp, clean flavours of a lager complement lighter seafood and poultry dishes.  The rounder, more robust ales are a good match with heartier dishes.  But, don’t be fooled into thinking that all lagers are light and mild and all ales are stronger and more powerful.  There are some lighter ales that go beautifully with seafood, and there are some robust lagers that have what it takes to cut through some of the heaviness of a meat-based sauce.

Think of the hoppiness of the beer as equal to the acidity in a wine.  Dishes that require a wine with crisp acidity would pair well with a hoppy beer.  The more acidic you would want the wine, the hoppier the beer should be.  Hoppiness in a beer can also be likened to tannins in a red wine.  Just as tannins can cut through protein and fat, a well-hopped beer can easily slice through a medium-rare steak, refreshing your palate and leave you wanting more.

Beer can be a superb partner to dessert.  Some would argue that it is an even better match than sweet wines.  I tend to agree with them.  It is true that it is very difficult to find a wine that will be a harmonious match to a chocolate dessert.  There are many beers however, typically the dark-coloured ones, that share similar flavours with chocolate, making them the perfect pairing.  Unlike wine, it is not necessary for the beer to be as sweet as the dessert.  Beer has bitterness which allows it to cut through sugar in a way similar to that of a sip of dark-roasted coffee.

Yes, there are hundreds of beers to choose from but that means there is the  perfect beer out there to match each dish on the menu.  The most important thing to remember when creating food and beer pairings is to experiment and don’t be afraid to be a little adventurous.  Who knows what unusual combinations will turn out to be a hit at your table?  Look at the classic pairing of stout with raw oysters.  Who would have thought of that one?  You may have a few misses when starting out, but who cares?  It’s all in delicious, good fun!

Leave me a comment and let me know if you have had any incredible beer and food epiphanies.

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