Beer & Food Pairing

April was a busy month for Beer and I.  I recently taught a beginners homebrewing class at the Bellingham Technical College (BTC).  I also taught a Beers of the British Isles tasting class, which was a lot of fun. For this class the idea was to have classic beers from England, Scotland and Ireland, then compare them with American examples of the same styles. This not only shows how and why craft beer took off in America, but how these classic beer styles have evoloved into new styles of their own.  At the World Beer Cup for example there are separate sub-categories for English IPA and American IPA.  I hung up some flags and maps, put on some Irish and Scottish music and we had a great time.  Another plus, for the first time we had a chef preparing food pairings right there in the room.  Matt Hansen is the kitchen Manager at Boundary Bay and is an BTC Culinary alumni.  His pairings were both great tasting and clever.  For example he paired a Indian curry with the India Pale Ales.  Hopefully Matt and I can join forces together for my next beer tasting class, which, probably won’t be until the Winter quarter.  I’m taking the Summer and Fall quarters off from teaching any classes.  I’m open to ideas until then so if you have a suggestion, post it on this blog.  April was topped off with the annual April Brews Day beer festival, which is a fundraiser for the Max Higbee Center.  I made two special beers for this event: Ginger-Peach Blonde Ale, and Vanilla Bourbon Oak Aged Imperial Stout.  The stout turned out really good, but I think last years was better, I will definitely do it again next year.  The Ginger-Peach is always evolving and I think I’ll need to get more peach into it next year.  If you tried either of these and want to give me some feedback for next year, please post it on the blog here.  Thanks to everyone who attended the April Brews Day and who came to my classes.  Without the support of beer lovers in Bellingham, there would be no craft beer here.
Slainte, -Anthony Stone

Matt Hansen, culinary genius

The pairings were:
  • IPA with Curried Apple Soup
  • ESB with Frisee aux Lardons
  • Porter with Mushroom and Goat Cheese Tart
  • Stout with Irish Soda Bread
  • Wee Heavy Scotch with Peanut Butter Ganache Pretzels
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Categories: Beer, Beer & Food Pairing, Brewing, Cheese, Homebrewing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

More Paid “Hangover Days”

New Year’s is a kind of weird holiday.  When my wife worked in the corporate world she used to get half of New Year’s Eve off paid and all of New Year’s Day off paid.  Basically New Year’s Day is “Hangover Day” and nobody wants to work.  How would my boss feel if I walked in the office on March 17th and said, “I’m leaving early today to go out and drink heavily.  I want you to pay me for the rest of today, and tomorrow because I’ll be too hung over to work.”  If my boss complained I could play the discrimination card because it’s Saint Patrick’s day and that is how I celebrate my cultural heritage.  Why is New Year’s day a paid hangover day (for people who get paid holidays, that is) but the day after St.Patrick’s day and Cinco De Mayo aren’t?  I know a few people who’d never come to work if we got paid days off for hangovers.  I always thought it was weird that the precedent people want to set for their entire year is getting totally sloshed and waking up feeling miserable.  It’s no wonder that people make resolutions to cut back on their drinking the next day.

If you’ve made a resolution to drink better beer and/or to learn more about beer in 2011, please come join me at the Bellingham Technical College for some beer tastings.  On Jan.15th we’re doing an introduction to Craft Beer Tasting with food pairings.  February 22nd is a Winter Beer Tasting class with a number of local and imported strong ales, barley wines, and other winter warmers.  In April I will be teaching a beginner’s homebrew class again and a new Beer of the British Isles tasting class which should be really fun to do.  For more info on the classes check out our Bellingham’s Best Beer blog. Wishing you a very happy and healthy 2011, Cheers!

Editor’s Note: I was really hungover on New Year’s Day and was checking my email on my iPhone in one of the few Cafes open (Thank you for the coffee, Mount Bakery!). Anthony had just sent me this blog to post and a few things went through my mind. One was, “What the hell is Anthony doing writing a blog at 9am on New Year’s Day?” and “I wish I was getting paid today” and “Yep, I feel pretty stupid about starting my new year with a hangover”.  Then I forgot about posting his blog it until today. Sorry Anthony.

Categories: Beer, Beer & Food Pairing, Brewing, Cinco de Mayo, Holidays, Homebrewing, New Year's Day, Saint Patrick's Day | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Brewmaster’s Dinner at Semiahmoo

This last week I had the great fortune to have some great food with our beer.  On Thursday I went to a brewer’s night at the Trainwreck pub in Burlington which has great burgers with hand-cut fries and their own jalapeño ketchup.  We ordered some jalapeño popper appetizers, not those frozen fried guys, but fresh hand-made, wrapped in bacon.  It’s weird because jalapeños are usually not that spicy but we were all feeling the heat from these ones.  It might have been more intense by all the Boundary Bay IPA I was drinking because hoppy beers can make spicy food taste hotter.

Friday I attended the third of three brew master dinners at Semiahmoo Resort.  Each course was paired with and/or cooked with Boundary Bay beer by their talented head chef Andy Dixon.  There were three appetizers all paired with ESB. They were all great but I think my favorite was the profiteroles filled with beer braised short ribs, chantrelle mushrooms and roasted shallots.  I gotta say though, that I don’t eat oysters and I had two of these poached with cheddar-beer fondue and gratined with Berkshire bacon.  The bacon is what really sold me.

The first dinner courses were also eye openers for me.  I was always a little picky since I was a kid. I’ve never liked dark meat or eating fat, skin or meat on the bone.  That said, I’ve never been a big fan of duck, as it is usually dark and pretty fatty.  The duck confit was delicious with the meat in thin strips on top of comte cheese and mizuna greens.  So, two foods in a row that I usually wouldn’t eat, but really enjoyed, and they went well with the beers paired with them.  The next dinner course was exciting for me because I had never had sturgeon before. I was surprised by this meaty fish.  Chef Andy really impressed me with this well thought out dish and pairing.   The sturgeon was served on a bed of Beluga lentils that resembled caviar and a curry cream sauce.  It was paired with Boundary’s IPA and I liked how he paired an English curry (with Indian influence) with an English beer style (again with an Indian connection).  So it impressed me on two levels. Not only was it well thought out and clever, but it also tasted great.  That would have been the high note for me if it wasn’t for the next course, which I think was most people’s favorite.  The malted beef tenderloin was a chocolate malt encrusted fillet with rogue bleu cheese on top.  Underneath this beautiful tender meat was a bed of roasted acorn squash and a wort infused demi.  We had to find an extra plate and split it up between us at my table because we loved this so much.  It was paired with Imperial Oatmeal Stout which might sound like a big heavy beer but it worked on several levels with this dish.  Imperial oatmeal stout goes well with creamy bleu cheeses and it also went well with the chocolate malt encrusted around the tenderloin.  Dessert was a caramelized fig tart paired with Old Bounder Barley wine, which was a nice way to finish up the night.  Well done Chef Andy!

Beer pairs well with food just as well as wine, and many times it pairs better.  A great resource if you are interested in pairing beer and cheese is a chart made by the Brewer’s Association: http://www.craftbeer.com/pages/beer-and-food/pairing-tips/pairing-chart
Cheers and Bon Appetit!
Categories: Beer & Food Pairing, Cheese | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

We ate all the cheese & drank all the beer

This last month I taught my first craft beer tasting class and my second homebrewing class at the Bellingham Technical College. First of all I want to apologize to the people who missed the tasting class due to the date change. Secondly, I want to sincerely thank everyone who came to both classes. I’m glad that there are so many people in Bellingham who are so beer-centric. I am going to take a break from the homebrewing class this Winter quarter and come back in the Spring. This Winter I’m working with the college right now to do two tasting classes, the “Introduction to Craft Beer Styles Tasting” and a “Winter Beer Tasting.

The tasting class went pretty well but I think next time will be even better. We started with a Kolsch and Pilsner from Chuckanut Brewery that were very tasty. From Boundary Bay Brewery we had ESB, Scotch Ale, IPA, Imperial Oatmeal Stout, and Old Bounder. I meant to replace one of those with a beer from the North Fork Brewery, but didn’t get my act together. Next time I will make sure to make that happen. Finishing it all off was a Kriek Lambic (cheery sour beer) from Belgium. Most of the beers had food paired with them. My favorite was my wife’s lavender cookies with the IPA. I wanted to focus on locally made and/or available food and beer for two reasons. First of all, because I want to support local business. And because I didn’t want to offer hard to find beers. If people really liked them it would be frustrating for them to know that they can’t get them in town.

I bought the cheese and kriek at my local Haggen’s, though I would like to get the cheese at Quell Fromage next time. I got the deli meat from Old World Deli and oh, man was it good. Thanks to Trevor Tomlinson at Old World for helping me make such difficult decisions. I also got Gouda cheese made in Ferndale along with apples and pears from Bellewood Acres. Sorry again to those who missed the class. I know it’s cruel to say this, but it was great having extra for the rest of us.

I had about three times as many people sign up for the introduction to homebrewing class this time around, which led to some changes in the class structure. Compared to the last class, this one was less hands on and more demonstration. But the goal remains the same. The class will help people get started brewing on their own at home. This time it went a little smoother and I had better timing than the last time around which meant everyone got to leave on time which was nice. Thank you to Nick Crandall for his help. I really couldn’t do it with out him. After talking about beer for three hours it was great to go home and enjoy one. If only the Huskies could have pulled out a victory that night, it would have been about a perfect day for me. Cheers!

I would love to get any feedback from anyone who took either class. You can comment on this blog or send me an email to: aastone(at)gmail.com

Categories: Beer, Beer & Food Pairing, Brewing, Cheese, Homebrewing | 2 Comments

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