David Ort – Author, Beer & Food Connoisseur, Fellow Brah

David Ort, we at Brew Brahs salute you. David’s work over at Food With Legs and Post City is furthering the craft beer movement, with a delightful shared spotlight on food and travel. Even more impressive is the publication of his supremely delicious Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook.

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Use the cookbook, and cheese will look this good (Credit: The Thirsty Wench)

Putting words from a computer screen onto printed page is a distant dream for most bloggers – and we enviously admire what David has accomplished. Seriously, get to cooking from this cookbook – it is damned delicious. David generously took us up on our interview request, and what follows is a splendid look at the art of marrying fine beer with fine food.

Q1 – Every craft beer fanatic has their moment of evolution. What was the experience that launched you on your craft beer trajectory?

In common with many Torontonians, my craft beer moment came at Cask Days. This would have been several years ago when it was still at Hart House and I was writing much more about wine than beer. Just being there among so many drinkers having a great time (despite the weather), brewers who were really proud of their creations, which were both diverse and well-made gave me a sense of how fun craft beer is.

Q2 – What is your process for pairing beer with food? Does the food inspire the beer, or vice-versa? Or perhaps it’s the Brew Brah way – drinking every style of beer with each meal.

Good question. Sometimes you’re going to have a special bottle that you’ve been sitting on for a while and you want to try or want to do a them (like an all-IPA dinner), but more often I think the pairing starts with the food for practical reasons. It’s just easier to have a wide variety of beers on hand to pair with whatever you pick up from the store food-wise.

Q3 – Have you ever had a pairing that seemed harmonic in theory, but appalling in practice? If so, what was it and why was it so bad?

Carrots and IPA are supposed to be this great, no-fail pairing because the theory is that carrots are monotone sweet and a bitter beer adds balance and interest. Maybe I just haven’t cracked this nut yet, but from my experience, this is generally hogwash. Every time I’ve had a carrot soup or carrot cake with a high-IBU beer the carrots have been overwhelmed and the beer has been thrown out of balance. I haven’t given up yet and further experimentation will follow, but I’m skeptical.

Q4 – What is the most common mistake people make when pairing beer with food?

Worrying too much. We should have fun and experiment not sweat the small details. So, if a recipe (like mine) call for a specific American Pale Ale and you can’t find that beer then get another APA or get a moderately tame IPA. We’re lucky as beer writers that the word “beer” covers such a wide range of really quite different drinks because it means that we have a ton of flexibility when designing pairings.

Q5 – Which of your own recipes from The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook do you find yourself cooking most often?

I do quite a few demonstration dinners and workshops these days and the Quick Pickled Radishes with Cream Cheese on Toast are just perfect for that setting. (Same applies for dinner parties and beer tastings.) They also never really feel out-of-season.

At home it has got to be the Dan Dan Noodles or the Soba Noodle Salad. There is something about noodles with a subtly spicy sauce that feels right with beer.

Q6 – Garret Oliver described Saison as his desert island beer style in his book, The Brewmasters Table. If you had to choose one style of beer to be marooned with, what would it be and why?

Well, since Garrett grabbed what might have been my choice, I’ll go with oud bruin. Lambics and gueuzes are the flashy sour beers, but a Flanders brown has the malt backbone to be a great partner for a wider range of food. Also, I think a sour beer would hold up better in the no-refrigeration conditions of a desert island.

Rapid fire! What style of beer, and why, would you pair with these common Brah delicacies? Craft beer can conquer anything!

Mac n’ cheese: A hoppy robust porter to cut the fat, but still be comforting.
A bowl of cereal with sliced bananas: Trappist dubbel for complementary flavours and because it only seems appropriate to drink a monastic beer with breakfast
Anchovy pizza: Biere de gardes have the sweetness to fend off the salty fish and the herbal flavours to complement the tomato sauce.
Cotton candy: Cream stout maybe? Just whatever is the sweetest beer you can get your hands on.
Wild rice: British mild for a nutty complement.
Pairing with pears: Tripel, only because I had this as a really great pairing at a beer dinner this year.

Q7 – Well done! As you mention in the opening of your book, this is indeed a very exciting time to be a Canadian craft beer lover. Which new breweries have you most excited for?

Innocente Brewing in Waterloo is doing some really tasty things with hops. I’m also really excited to visit the new breweries that Sawdust City and Side Launch built this year in Ontario.

Follow David on Twitter at @ortdavid, or better yet check out The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook. Your stomach will thank you.

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Review: Mellow Moon Pineapple Hefeweizen

Brewer: Tree Brewing
Brewed in: Kelowna, BC
Percentage: 5.0%
Found: Landsdowne West LCBO

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As I remove the horizontally-stored bottle from the fridge, I notice a thick sediment sitting on the side. I will have to exercise caution with the pour. The colour is murky gold with the slightest white head. The nose is unmistakably pineapple – candy pineapple even. The taste is rather mild upfront with a tickle of tropical hops on the finish: It doesn’t have the same obvious punch of the bouquet. By the label and the nose, I assumed this beer was brewed with pineapple juice, as is the Hawaiian Style IPA. However, the beer provides it’s ingredients and no pineapple is listed. Odd. I read on… The hops used are Perle and Tettnanger. Now I’m curious, do these add the candied pineapple nose? The notes on Perle do not mention tropical flavours so I turn to Tettnanerg. Even this hop doesn’t mention pineapple but this hop does contain a flavourful oil (farnsene oil) that could be my smelly culprit. Either way, I won’t be investigating this mystery any further – my beer’s getting warm. Very interesting beer – I’m into it.

19/24

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Review: Ezra

Brewer: Great Lakes Brewery & Amsterdam Brewing Co.
Brewed in: Etobicoke/Toronto, ON
Percentage: 6.2%
Found: King Edward LCBO

I don’t mean to only review GLB beers lately (but if I did, would that be so bad?), yet I thought this post was appropriate for National Dog Day; which is today, August 26th.

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Ezra pours a slightly hazy gold with a white head that fades to a whisper. The nose is crisp and refreshing with assertive notes of apple shining through. The beer bubbles across the palate with a finish so dry it borders on tart. I’d go as far to say this brew feels rather sophisticated, especially as the characteristics of the cider barrel aging really shine through. This is a near-perfect summer brew.

While the beer brings a smile to my face, the story behind the brew’s namesake did not. Ezra was named after a “good dog” that died the day the beer was brewed. Unless you’re a monster, this dry beer will bring a wet tear to your eye.

21/24

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Interview with Ottawa’s Newest Craft Brewery: Dominion City Brewing Co.

Here at BrewBrahs.com, we’re more than just ugly mugs with above-average hair; we’re also the guys that will dive headfirst into the craft beer community and ask the hard-hitting questions that flirt with wrong side of journalistic integrity.

The fellas over at Ottawa’s newest craft brewery, Dominion City Brewing Co., were kind enough to take the time to answer a few of our questions. Find the word-exchange below and clear your next few Saturdays so you can visit their new digs in beautiful Beacon Hill, and grab some of their brews. Enjoy!

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BB: The beer scene in Ottawa has absolutely exploded in the last year, with even more breweries coming soon. Is there ever any fear that the market is getting too crowded or are the people of Ottawa still thirsty for more?

DCBC: We’ve got it in our heads that Ottawa is truly taking over the role as Canada’s national capital of craft beer. The fact that new breweries popping up continue to be quality-focused and producing exciting new flavours is only helping to fuel local interest in delicious beer. Despite what feels like a massive explosion, craft beer sales as a percentage of total beer consumed in Canada is still very small. We don’t have any doubt that as more and more people try full-flavoured, quality-brewed beer that craft consumption will only continue to climb.

One of the really cool things we get excited about is that as recently as a few years ago your typical craft beer drinker was probably a late 20-something male. Today you’re seeing more and more women and Boomer parents taking a real interest and demanding all kinds of new flavours.

At our opening weekend we had a couple in their 80s taking a selfie at the bar holding up a sample of our beer. It kind of rocked our world.

That’s a long way of saying, the craft is strong!

BB: Beyond your own start-up, are there any soon-to-be-open breweries that you’re excited about?

DCBC: We’ve had the chance to chat with the folks behind Bicycle, Waller Street, Whiprsnapr and Broken Stick and they’re all passionate about their projects. We’re pumped to try some when they get going!

BB: The Dominion City dream began over a couple pints at Vineyards Bistro; will they be carrying your beer, thereby bringing the story full circle? 

DCBC: Great question! That’d be surreal! Currently we are on tap at Ottawa’s Beer Brothers Bistro, Bowman’s Bar and Grill, The Wellington Gastropub and Union 613.  For now our goal is to make sure we don’t take on one more customer than we can consistently support so the plan is to grow slowly.

We’re pumped to see Dominion City on tap in more spots around town however, and we’ll be working on making that happen in the weeks to come!

BB: Give us the straight goods: is there actual marmalade in your Earl Grey Marmalade Saison?

Our original experimental batches included real marmalade. At our scale now that much pectin in a beer could produce some undesirable results so instead we’ve phased out the finished marmalade and instead brew it with a combination of pith and zest of more than 250 oranges per batch. We’re really pleased with how that slightly bitter, tangy orange aroma has been maintained!

BB: Was the Earl Grey Marmalade Saison inspired by Paddington Bear? He’s the best.

DCBC: Who doesn’t love a bear who rocks a peacoat and loves to get down on marmalade? The story on our Earl Grey Marmalade Saison started with Josh’s wife Margaux who makes her own delicious jam (Spread the Love Jams). Margaux made an Earl Grey Marmalade and we thought the floral, bergamot flavours were just begging to be paired with the estery, fruity notes in Saison yeast. The rest is history.

BB: Any other flavor of tea considered for this brew? Any weird combinations?

DCBC: We always knew we wanted to incorporate Earl Grey because of the citrusy, bergamot flavours. We experimented with a few different varieties before landing on Bridgehead’s Organic Earl Grey. It was rich and did the best job of coming through in all the right ways in the finished beer. We absolutely love incorporating local ingredients in our beers and it’s a theme we plan to come back to you again and again. Already we source hops from a number of regional suppliers and we’re working with a local organic grain farmer who has started micro-malting his own wheat and barley.

BB: Beyond the timeless Kenny Loggins masterpiece, “Highway to the Danger Zone“, what is the best song to brew to?

DCBC: That’s an easy one. Long brew days call for Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band’s “Night Moves“. Every time.

BB: If you could pick any brewery to do a collaboration with, who would it be?

DCBC: We’ve had a thought that it would be cool to do a collaboration with a brewery from both coasts and to brew it here in the national capital. We’ve got a few ideas that we’re holding close to our chest, but it’s something we’d love to do at the right time!

BB: Can we get a sneak peak at anything you guys are planning for your next release?

DCBC: We brewed a 3.5% ABV session ale that we plan to pour at the Ottawa Folk Festival in September. We called it ‘Working Lunch’ and while very light on the palette, the beer maintains enough body and juicy citrus flavours to satisfy. We’re excited to move into a couple one-off releases this Fall that’ll be on the maltier end of the spectrum and we’ll look forward to sharing more about those soon!

BB: Rapid fire! Just breathe deep and let the answers come naturally:

BB: Favourite Ottawa-brewed beer?
DCBC: Big Papa, Stock Pot Ales

BB: Favourite Canadian-brewed beer?
DCBC: Pandamonium Double IPA, Phillips Brewing

BB: Favourite American-brewed beer?
DCBC: Not The Stoic Quadrupel, Deschutes Brewing

BB: Favourite Internationally-brewed beer?
DCBC: Lion Stout, Ceylon Brewery

BB: Favourite big beer?
DCBC: Bellwoods Lambda Brett Barrel Aged Quad

BB: Well done!

Thanks to the guys over at Dominion City, not only for adding to the Ottawa beer scene, but also for the chat. Any friend of Night Moves is a friend of ours!

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Review: Karma Citra

Brewer: Great Lakes Brewery 
Brewed in: Etobicoke, ON
Percentage: 6.6%
Found: Glebe LCBO

As I drink this beer, it’s IPA Day – how appropriate.

This sensual IPA pours murky gold with a ring of white head. The nose is a ode to hops with tropical and citrus goodness powering through. The delivery is deceptively smooth before the bitterness of the Citra hop spanks the backside of your palate. The bitterness fades with a slow sizzle as this brew clocks in at a reasonable 65 IBUs. The best part about this beer is that all its power is owed to a single hop, the mighty Citra. The Citra Hop is described as imparting “interesting citrus and tropical fruit characters to beer”. I couldn’t have said it any better myself. This beer is exciting yet approachable. Karma Citra is my new favourite drinking position.

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I’m not alone in throwing accolades at this beer: it is the 2012 & 2013 Gold Medal winning American IPA at the Canadian Brewing Awards (falling to lowly Silver in 2014, being usurped by another GLB creation) and it scores well on Rate Beer, Beer Advocate and Untappd. But why trust us and all these other professional drinkers when you can just go get one yourself?

22/24

 

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Review: California Sunshine APA

Brewed by: Cameron’s Brewing Company
Brewed in: Oakville, Ontario
Found: King Edward LCBO
Percentage: 5.1%

Only a couple years ago a Cameron’s brew would barely have caught my eye but they’ve been releasing some exceptionally tasty brews, notably the super floral RPA, and so I rarely let a new release pass me by untried.

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Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone It’s not warm when she’s away.

Pours sunshine bright and pale gold with a mild white head. A subtle nose hints at tropical floral fruit. The palate is much less subtle and finishes sharp and piney. The sharp hoppy bitterness lingers, just as the sticky lace lingers on the pint glass. Normally, I find APAs walk a a little on the weak but this brew hits all the right notes.

19/24

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A Misguide to Beer Terms vol. 2

With the stunning lack of success or pick-up on our Misguide to Beer Terms Vol. 1, we felt obliged to collect the extra Vol. 1 pieces from the cutting-room floor and cobble together a second volume. If there’s anything movies have taught me, it’s that sequels are always better received than originals. Our apologies to Jamie Farr.

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