Have you ever been to a dinner where the beer took top billing on the menu? I haven't. While the beer or wine pairing is deliciously important usually the food takes center stage with the beverage lends a helping hand. At the Ottawa Beer Tasting, Appreciation and Pairing Society the beer is taken very seriously and diners are challenged to determine whether or not the food pairing works.
JP Fournier founded the Ottawa Beer TAP Society in 2010 as a way to showcase home brewing and how well beer paired with food. Since its conception two years ago events have been hosted at various venues - The Copper Pot, Oz Kafe and the Hintonburg Public House. The beer is mostly brewed by JP himself but in the past other brewers have contributed select brews to help round out the tasting.
I crashed Jeff O'Reilly and Travis Persaud's table for the most recent tasting event, which also the second anniversary of the society. We enjoyed eight beers, six of which were paired with food while the others were served as a welcoming warmer and an aperitif. I didn't take as detailed notes as Jeff or Travis but there were several courses I thought were 'super yum' and would love to have again:
- 1588 Tudor Butter Beer: Made with butter, warm winter spices and egg yolks - the colour and sweetness reminded me of a double double (without the cloying sugar-y flavour and aftertaste).
- Cherries in the Snow: One of my favourite pairings - the tart flavour of the beer calmed the acid of the lemon chicken and tart dressing while the fizziness refreshed the palate.
- Spiced Holiday Ale: While I didn't really like the beer on its own I loved how the strong taste of all spice worked with the heavily seasoned and spiced kafta. This plate did not need the help of the gnocchi or squash puree - meat lollipop all the way!
- Imperial Canadian Maple Stout: My perfect combination was a forkful of doughnut dipped in the pudding with a swallow of stout. The maple syrup in the stout coupled with the burnt caramel and chocolate made for a decadent bite.
- Beer Liqueur: A distilled and aged version of the Imperial Canadian Stout, this sweet and boozy treat had you licking the inside of the glass.
Tasting events are held every couple of months and cost $60.00 - a bargain considering the amount of work that goes into the food and beer. I highly recommend attending if you're a fan of beer or are curious about brewing and the types of beer that can be made.