B.C. Beer Blog

The who, what, where, when, why, and how of B.C. craft beer

Posts Tagged ‘Pooka Cherry

The Art of Beer Blending

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Blending beer has a history going back hundreds of years. For example, popular convention has it that porter was originally a blend of three ales — a third of ale, beer and twopenny — known as “three threads,” before being named after the class of punters it was most favoured by. (Martyn Cornell, however, has a very interesting article on the origins of porter that disputes the accepted history.)

One of the most widely-known beer blends is a Black and Tan: a blend of pale ale and stout or porter. It’s also been made using lager and stout. I’ve had it at Dix made from cask IPA and stout — a very satisfying drink that was beautifully poured by Aussie bartender Daniel.

I was at Steamworks yesterday and discovered, when chatting with the bartender, that they seem to like experimenting with blending their beers too (not the first time). Their current two seasonals are a Frambozen and an Ipanema Belgian Wit — both excellent beers on their own. Blended together, they make a visually appealing, refreshing, and flavourful drink, called a Berry White. The Frambozen floats atop the straw-coloured Ipanema, with a zone in the middle where the colours blend into each other.

Another off-menu blended beer drink you can order at Steamworks is a Black Berry, which is a blend of Frambozen and Heroica Stout. While you can just ask for your preferred proportion, there are two different approaches by the staff. Some prefer more stout than frambozen, using 1/3 frambozen, 2/3 stout; others prefer the reverse. I tried it with 2/3 frambozen and found it very pleasant. It has a more forward fruit flavour than if you went for the higher proportion of stout, which I tried at FigMint’s B.C. Day On the Wood beer & cheese tasting using Crannóg’s Back Hand of God and Pooka Cherry. (Note to self: next time, try half and half.)

Another blend the Steamworks bartender told me of was their IPA with their fall seasonal Great Pumpkin Ale. I would never have thought of that combination, but now I’m definitely going to try it. However, it probably won’t be the same as last year because their IPA formulation is different now due to running out of their Kent Goldings hops which were the signature variety in the beer.

The latter, in particular, has got me thinking about further exploring beer blending with no holds barred. You may be surprised by what you can discover, so why fence yourself in?

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Of Beer and Cheese

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Two events I recently attended have shown an increased interest in beer & cheese pairing — FigMint’s B.C. Day “Beer on the Wood” and the Vancouver Beer Meetup/CAMRA lambic & cheese tasting at the Alibi Room. Cheese for both events was supplied by Mount Pleasant Cheese, who are becoming noticeably more beer savvy with suggested beer pairings on the tags of some of their cheeses in their Cambie Street shop.

Figmint’s first “Beer on the Wood” was lightly attended. However, they have since been gaining in popularity. This time it was oversold and, thankfully, the additional people were accommodated in the lounge, rather than having only seats at the bar. Highlighting the artisan producers of B.C., the following cheeses were paired with organic farmhouse ales supplied by zero waste brewery, Crannóg:

  • Organic Extra Aged Gouda from Gort’s Gouda Cheese Farm, Salmon Arm
      – Beyond the Pale Ale
  • Castle Blue from The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Agassiz
      – Hell’s Kitchen
  • Farm House Brie from The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Agassiz
      – Back Hand of God Stout
  • Farm House Natural Chèvre from The Farm House Natural Cheeses, Agassiz
      – Pooka Cherry Ale

The first three ales are regularly brewed and available all year round, while the Pooka Cherry Ale is a seasonal beer made with 200 lbs. of  Crannóg’s own Bing cherries. (After the tasting, I blended 1/3 of a glass of the latter with 2/3 Back Hand of God to make a delicious Cherry Stout. As Crannóg are a draught only brewery, hopefully you can find the two together somewhere to make your own blend. Otherwise, order two party pigs.)

Chef Lee Humphries created an innovative pairing plate that not only included the common cheese, fruit, and some condiments with bread, but even some hors d-oeuvres to match both the cheese and the beer. For example, with the Farm House Castle Blue, he made a small skewer of pork sausage wrapped in tomato crêpe. For the Farm House Natural Chèvre & Pooka Cherry, it was a cherry soda & vanilla ice cream float and two fresh, ripe cherries. Great value for $25.00.

The lambic & cheese tasting at the Alibi Room highlighted Belgian products recently imported by Bravo Beer of Squamish. Unfortunately, James Walton of Storm Brewing has been the only B.C. brewer to make this classic style of beer available commercially, but he isn’t planning on making it again. Yaletown Brewing brewmaster, Iain Hill, is working on a related beer — an Oud Bruin — that should be released in the fall. For such a challenging style and labour of love, these brewers should be given every encouragement.

Twenty-six people enjoyed a selection of gueuze, fruit lambics, and faro paired with five cheeses selected by Nigel Springthorpe and I. The beers were a mix of commercial lambics from Brouwerij De Troch and Brouwerij Vanhonsebrouck, and traditional lambics from Brouwerij Oud Beersel. The cheeses were Chevry Plain from Carmelis Goat Cheese Artisan, Le Douanier from Fromagerie Fritz Kaiser, Le Bleu Ermite from the Benedictine monks of Fromagerie de l’Abbaye SaintBenoît, Le Riopelle de l’Ile from Société coopérative agricole de l’Île aux Grues, and an extra aged Gouda from Gort’s Gouda.

The tasting began with a comparison between Vanhonsebrouck’s St. Louis Gueuze and Oud Beersel’s Oude Gueuze Vieille. The cheeses best paired with these very sour beers were the stronger-tasting Le Bleu Ermite and Le Douanier.

We then followed with a three-way comparison between De Troch Chapeau Kriek, Oud Beersel Oude Kriek Vieille, and Vanhonsebrouck St. Louis Premium Kriek. Duck confit croquettes would have nicely paired with the aged kriek, but people were hungry and devoured them even before the first beer was paired. The commercial krieks, the Chapeau Abricot, and the St. Louis Premium Framboise that were sampled after went well with the Chevry Plain and triple-cream Le Riopelle de l’Ile.

The final beer of the evening’s tasting was the St. Louis Premium Faro. Unfortunately, the B.C. Liquor Store that the beer was ordered from did not fulfill the order for the Chapeau Faro that was planned for a comparison. Nevertheless, by that point, participants were quite satisfied and enjoyed the faro with the carmel flavour of the aged Gouda.

If you are interested in doing your own beer and cheese pairing, see Janet Fletcher’s article on the subject in the San Francisco Chronicle.