Thanks to Goose Island, we’re celebrating National IPA Day !!!
Thanks to Goose Island, we’re celebrating National IPA Day !!!
The locally and independently owned, Kettle River Brewing Co, is expanding! They’re looking for community involvement to help fundraise via a crowd-funding campaign on the popular site, Indiegogo.
Located in the North End of Kelowna BC, they do very small beer runs and have proudly brewed over 200 batches since opening in July of 2016. Being a small team (only 4, including the founders!) with a strong DIY-ethos, everything in the brewery has been built by them. In fact, most of the brewery, including everything from the equipment to the barn wood bar is second-hand or recycled parts.
The current, tiny 1bbl brewing system, handmade out of used tea tree oil tins and dairy parts, is not sufficient for the current growth rate and public demand. To keep up, they’ve ordered a new 5bbl brewing system (5x the beer!) but still need to pay for the rest of it, including all installation costs to get it operational. Additionally, to prepare for the Okanagan summer, they’ve started the process of getting a licensed patio out front, including upgrading their tasting lounge license to a lounge endorsement. The success of this would mean customers can enjoy more than one sample glass, outside in the sunshine!
To achieve these goals, the campaign is looking to fundraise up to $30,000 with $20,000 covering the remaining cost of buying and installing the new 5 bbl brewing system, and $10,000 to cover building upgrades, re-zoning for the licensed patio.
Beyond the typical brewery fundraiser perks, such as branded swag, bonus beer, a learn-to-brew day, they’ve included tickets to a Brewhouse Backers Banquet beer 4 course dinner; a “buy-a-brick” option where you can decorate one of the bricks in the wall of the brewery; a portrait painted by a local artist and hung in the brewery, and a custom KRBC kegerator, supplied with beer for a year. To find out more you can visit the fundraiser page: https://igg.me/at/krbc or call us at 250-862-5115.
To celebrate, Kettle River has partnered with Groove Garden Records to have a Mini-Record Store Pop-up Shop day, Sat. March 25th. We’ll be raffling off artwork, vinyl grab bags, special bottles like the bourbon choc. milk stout, brewery swag like fill vouchers, hats etc and will have some special draft on for samples.
The 7th Annual BC Beer Awards & Festival is set to return to Vancouver on Saturday, October 15, 2016 from 4 – 9pm at the Croatian Cultural Centre. The signature consumer tasting event of BC Craft Beer Month, this festival celebrates the very best in craft brewing from across the province. A one-day only event, it features both the BC Beer Awards ceremony hosted by CBC’s Stephen Quinn and a craft beer festival with over 65 breweries and cideries.
This year, awards will be presented for 30 categories, up from 20 last year. Awards include CBC People’s Choice Award, Richards Buell Sutton LLP Rookie of the Year Award and the Brewer’s Challenge. 2016 has been dubbed by the craft beer community to be the “Year of the Mild Beer” and we have challenged BC’s brewers to create something mild, 4% ABV or less and still full flavoured. The Growler is hosting a brewer’s collaboration booth. Also returning to the festival will be our community booths, and craft beer focused vendors. Once the awards ceremony is over, we’ll have live music provided by Paul Filek in the smaller, second room.
Early Bird tickets $32 (plus taxes and fees) – on sale Tuesday Aug 16th until Thursday Sept 15th.
Each ticket includes 4 drink tokens as well as a 4oz taster glass (yours to take home). Additional tokens are $1.25 each. There is an ATM on site.
Cloverdale is a community that in recent years has seen its growth shoot rapidly upwards along a timeline somewhat similar to that followed by the rise in popularity of craft beer across BC. Over the past few years local beer stores have seen their craft beer sections overtake more and more shelf space while new restaurants have opened with carfully curated craft beer menus.
On the weekend of May 28th + 29th Cloverdale will take the next step towards becoming a true craft beer town. At least for that weekend, The Grape & The Grain will help make Cloverdale a craft beer destination as the festival makes history as the first of its kind at the Bill Reid Millenium Aphitheatre in the heart of Cloverdale..
The festival will see many ‘firsts’ take shape over the weekend as Phoenix Productions bring some truly fresh ideas to the world of craft beer festivals. A major clue to the uniqueness of this festival is right there in the name, “The Grape & The Grain”. For the first time in BC this festival will see the coming together of craft brewers, distillers and vinters at one venue to showcase some of the high quality adult beverages that BC has to offer.
Cloverdale is no stranger to festivals with 80,000 people expected to descend on the fairground the weekend before for the Cloverdale Rodeo. The Grape and The Grain, however, is expected to be a more laid back event as they’ll be setting up for around 2500 visitors each day and implementing some unique technology to streamline the guest experience.
All attendees will be given RFID bracelets that can be activated and linked to their profile prior to heading to the festival. The electronic bracelet will grant them access through the gates and will come pre-loaded with $20 to spend once inside. If funds start to dwindle the bracelets can be linked to a credit card and topped up on site through a mobile device. This can be done by the user manually or automatically if they choose to set a minimum balance on their bracelet. Unused funds are automatically refunded back to the credit card within 10 business days.
All this should make for a pretty slick system avoiding the need for standing in line to rip ticket stubs or manually run a credit card for more tokens. It’s a win for the customer experience, but it’s expected to be a big win for festival organizers and vendors as well. The data collected by the RFID bracelets can be used to indicate what attendees wanted most and when they wanted it which will help improve the festival in the years that come and yes, organizers are planning to bring The Grape & The Grain back to Cloverdale for a 2nd year in 2017.
With technology taking care of the tickets and tokens that are normally associated with festivals, attendees are expected to enjoy the grounds at a more leisurely pace. The primary festival producer, Paulette Garneau with Phoenix Production explains, “With the bracelets there shouldn’t be line-ups, it should go pretty fast which in turn leads the distillers and brewers that are there time to talk about their products” and interact with their customers.
10 months ago when Paulette and Lori Potts (Co-Producer with Phoenix Productions) began planning The Grape & The Grain they envisioned a festival in which attendees would be able to try a little bit of everything at a single event; wine, beer, cider and craft spirits. The market seems ripe for an event like this with the local movement as strong as ever and the more recent rise of craft distilleries changing the way Bitish Columbians pour their beverages.
In explaining the decision to create a multi beverage style festival Paulette explains that, “their are so many new distilleries in BC and so many great products coming out of BC that even 10 years ago you wouldn’t have found whisky here and you wouldn’t have found amaretto or limoncello. There is so much being made here locally that we thought, let’s try to do a 1/3 spirits, 1/3 wine and 1/3 beer.”
Unfortunately for our craft beer loving readers this first year of the festival will be a little under representative on the beer side of things. Part of this may be attributed to the challenges faced by a first year festival, but, much of it is also due to the unfortunate timing of other craft beer events clashing on the scheduled weekend.
An under representation of beer shouldn’t be a deterrant to attending though as Deep Cove Brewers, Four Winds Brewing, British Columbia Genuine Draft and Rider Cider with be represented along with a number of BC wineries and craft distillers. This a great opportunity to try something new. Enjoy some wine, sip some spirits and support the breweries. I’m hoping to see more breweries able to attend in 2017 and I’m sure the RFID data gathered this year will show a demand!
You know there will be beer, wine, cider, coolers and a variety of spirits, but there will be more to do at the festival aside from sampling the drinks. Organizers are hoping that instead of attendees feeling the need to rush from table to table that they’ll take the time to enjoy the full venue.
Grab something to eat from one of the food trucks, hang out at a picnic table and enjoy the live music while you sip on your new favourite beverage (until you’re ready to find your next favourite). That’s the casual feel that I think this festival is going to achieve.
There will be 5 musical acts scheduled over the 2 days with DJ’s playing music in between acts. Check the musicians list to find out who’s performing
For directions, hours, rates and to buy tickets go to TheGrapeAndTheGrain.ca
CraftBeer.ca will have representatives at the festival, so, keep an eye out for our follow up article post festival.
Many people travel to the Yukon for the outdoor adventure, the chance to see amazing wildlife up close, and perhaps the opportunity to strike it rich panning for gold. Few go up there to try one of Canada’s most northern microbrews; Yukon Brewing. Thankfully their beer is so good it’s available at most liquor stores in Alberta and British Columbia. But if you really want the full experience you’ll have to go to a local pub in The Yukon.
Brought to the Yukon for the many job opportunities, Ontarians Alan and Bob started the company as Chilkoot Brewing Co in 1997. Today they are proud to serve a growing local economy, promoting quality craft beer in the territory and jobs for locals. Along those lines they are adamant supporters of recycling other brands bottles and even go as far as taking their used grain and giving it to local farmers.
Let’s take a look at a few of their famous craft beers.
Chilkoot is their basic lager that tackles the problem so many commercially available lagers have: that nasty chemical taste. This beer is that go-to standard for just about every situation. It’s clean, refreshing, smooth and predictable. Local rave about how predictable it is, that each bottle will be remembered as fondly as the last. The name is a homage to the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway Alaska down to the Yukon, famously used during the Yukon Gold Rush Days. It’s a great pair with home cooked proteins like lamb, pork and beef as well as typical bar food like wings and burgers. Unfortunately though it is a local favorite and rarely available outside the territory.
Yukon Red is a bit of a puzzling amber ale. Yukon Brewing Co. has deemed it one of their flagship brands but recognizes its unique flavour as a red is not for everyone. Amber reds are one of my favorite beers so I am anxious to try this beer which is available in bottles throughout British Columbia and Alberta. Although you may want to go visit the brewery or a Yukon pub to take advantage of this craft beers legendary mousse. Fruity craft beers are often mistaken as simply sweet. The Yukon Red is fruity but perplexingly strong, not sweet and has a sharp bitter. I challenge you to find the perfect food to pair with this gorgeous red; maybe some seafood pasta or roasted lamb will do the trick.
Longest Night is a craft beer that tries to capture the essence of the brands slogan: “beer worth freezing for.” This Cascadian Dark Ale doesn’t look the part. Perhaps the dictomy at work. The owners wanted to project an image of the Yukon that allow it can have elements of the extreme it is down to Earth wholesome and welcoming. The scent of this one has a great amount of complexity but remains only a subtle foundation. Expect roasted and toasted scents of coffee and bitters yet a refreshingly mild citrus element. It will begin heavy but smooth out very nicely. For those that appreciate something hoppy – but with drinkability – this is a great candidate.
If you get a chance to taste one of the Yukon Brewing Company beers and fall in love I suggest you make a visit to the brewer. Besides getting to take advantage of all of the great outdoors activities up there you can rest and relax as the locals do, having a draught of Yukon Gold, the flagship beer.
You may be a craft beer enthusiast who has acquired a wonderful connoisseurship, met people in the industry, developed an amazing palette and are ready to put some investment capital in your favourite pastime. Or you may be an everyday investor who is fully aware of the incredible growth craft beer has had in the last five years. Here’s your guide to investing in craft beer.
The first option is the most boring but also the safest: buy stock in companies that produce beer. Sam Adams is the usual favorite here. The company’s official name is Boston Beer but it goes by the ticker symbol SAM. It’s a great stock that posts consistent earnings, has positive growth catalysts and is in a good position to acquire other brands in the future. To hedge your bets and go for a more reliable but slower growing beer company you may have to leave craft beer altogether and focus on Anheuser-Busch InBev SA. The ticker symbol is easy enough to remember: BUD. It’s considered a blue chip stock, one that has been around for decades and des little exciting but continually pays its investors in wonderful quarterly cheques, known as dividends.
The second option is to get involved at the ground level and help fund a microbrewery option, whether local or through a seed company. The drawback for this is that you are going to need a lot more money. Most beginning brewery businesses are going to have a lot of expensive equipment, primetime real estate, marketing in an already crowded environment and the labour expenses. If a brewery is seeking funding through private investors expect to see minimum block investments of at least $10,000. The old saying, “the greater the risk, the greater the reward” is not necessarily true here. There are high risks here that can lead to failure or an abysmal static craft beer brand. Yours is an investment and there is often no insurance that you will get your money back.
Building from that you could seek an investment opportunity in a craft brewery through an angel investor group, which will pool the money together of many investors so that that $10,000 minimum is significantly lessened. If things go well and the brand takes off you will see only a fraction of the success a full share might have realized. Furthermore you are also going to be paying fee for management and paperwork from the angel investors. Angel investors are available in most major cities across North America but they set themselves up like clubs. You will often have to know someone – like a local professional – in order to get in.
The third option is to go all in and start your own microbrewery. Before you even get started on this and I remind you of the horrendous costs of starting one, ask yourself why? Are the awesome craft beers you’re drinking not enough? Is there something in the fine beer market that is missing? Before you act on the idea, sit down and really think about what you can bring to the table that isn’t already available. Starting a business, any business, does require discipline, some experience and definitely some capital. If you recognize a niche that is not being catered to or a market that is open for the taking explore it before jumping in head first. Perhaps you could start sharing your favourite homebrew amongst people besides your friends, attend trade shows, draw up a business plan and then see where that leads.
Alternatives do exist like Craftfund.com, which allows users who sign up to invest small amounts directly in local businesses, notably craft breweries. Unfortunately investing right now is limited to residents of Wisconsin. Check out Kickstarter.com too. Just know that it is very rare for someone who contributes to a campaign to get any equity (ownership in the company). Instead you are likely to see exclusive merchandise. Keep your eyes open as crowdfunding options for craft beer are growing.
The following is an interview with Marko Marjanovic of a brand new microbrewery in the Yukon called Winterlong Brewing Company. He answered a few questions for me that give some great insight into how a brand new brewery works and what he did to invest in it.
Scott (CraftBeer.ca): You just opened Winter Long Brewing Company this year in May. Explain to me how long it has been coming. Have you been sitting on brewing recipes and ideas for years? What motivated you to push forward in 2015? What’s the market like?
Marko (Winterlong): In the summer of 2014, Meghan and I noticed the growing need for more craft beer in the Yukon. At parties and around the campfire, we kept seeing people who would normally drink light lagers, now holding double IPAs and imperial stouts. We had been home brewing for 8 years, so brewing wasn’t new to us, but starting a capital intensive business was. That September, we decided to go for it, and opened our doors at Winterlong Brewing Co. 9 months later, May 2015.
Scott: I lived in a very northern community for several years and I understand the logistics of businesses operating above the 55th parallel. I imagine it is difficult to operate a business let alone a brewery that far up north. Explain some of the issues or difficulties in managing a craft brewery up there. Are the biggest issues related to the cost of shipping?
Marko: Being so far north, shipping is the biggest issue. We’re 2500km away from Vancouver, which is the closest hub of most brewing supplies to us. But there are some advantages of operating a brewery in Whitehorse. We’re only 175km from Skagway, Alaska, which is a sea port, and so we can take advantage of receiving items by boat. Of course it still takes time, so we have to make sure we’re on top of things when ordering ingredients and supplies.
Scott: Yukon Brewing Company has maintained a virtual monopoly on the craft beer market in the Yukon since 1997. Is there room for the two companies? What does Winterlong Brewing Co. offer that your competitor might not? Will you be working together to bring awareness to craft brews of the Yukon?
Marko: There is always room for more breweries in any city. Would you be satisfied if there was only one restaurant where you live? It really just depends on the size of each brewery and if they are willing to export or not. Multiple large breweries who don’t want to export would saturate the market very quickly, but at our current size, we’re more like a corner store than a supermarket. The fact that there is already a well-established microbrewery in the Yukon was a huge help to our success, as they’ve been helping raise craft beer awareness to Yukoners for years – introducing growlers early on and more recently special release bombers. In terms of our beer style, we’ve focused on more hop forward, west coast style beers, whereas, Yukon Brewing has a lot more malt forward, English style ales.
Scott: I notice on your website you have four beers available locally on tap: High Noon Hef, Pingo Pale Ale, Weekend Warrior IPA, and Sweater Weather Stout. Besides the usual characteristics of these craft beers, how would you describe each and which are you selling the most of?
Marko: We’ve been open for 3.5 months and have brewed close to 10 different beers, so the selection is often changing week to week. We have brewed some beers such as Pingo Pale Ale several times as it’s been popular with the regulars, but we are constantly trying out new styles as well. At our small scale, it is easy to try out new beers, and since we don’t bottle (yet), we aren’t restricted by having to design labels for each new beer. Our most popular beers so far were the Getting’ Tipsy Spruce Tip Ale and Reckless Abandon Double IPA, which we’ll be putting out again soon.
Scott: You proudly display your Yukon Liquor Manufacturing license. Congratulations! Job well done! What’s the next step from brewing to bottling for Winterlong Brewing Co.? How long will it be before beer geeks can get their hands on your product?
Marko: We just received two more fermenters, which will effectively double our brewing capacity. We also purchased a small bottling machine to dabble in the packaging world. However, we’re still hardly able to keep up to demand for filling growlers at our brewery, and we’re only open 12 hours per week. We will see how the winter goes, as we’re still only 3.5 months old!
Scott: I imagine I’m not alone in that many of our readers are eager to go on a trip up to the Yukon and visit Whitehorse. Besides visiting your awesome brewery and sampling some great craft beers where should we visit? Any local secrets for great cuisine? What would you recommend that we can’t find in any travel brochure?
Marko: The Yukon has some incredibly wild scenery. If you like the outdoors, a road trip or backpacking adventure is really the way to go. For the hikers, I run yukonhiking.ca, an online trail guide for the Yukon with over 60 different hiking routes across the territory. Otherwise a drive to Kluane National Park or Tombstone Territorial Park should be on your list. Of course, you’re going to want to stock up with Winterlong Brewing Co. beer before you start your adventure.
Scott: Thanks for doing this. I really enjoyed your answers. If I could just add one short question, do you have any advice for potential microbrews? How would you advise someone who is eager to start investing in their own craft brewing company?
Marko: Before we started Winterlong Brewing Co., we read over and over how whatever you think it might cost and however long you think it will take, double it. We thought we would play it smarter and that somehow those rules wouldn’t apply to us. Well, we were wrong – double it. We were also warned that if we made good beer we would outgrow a 3 BBL brewery quickly, and that we should perhaps save our money and start with a bigger system. After 2 weeks, we realized that was true.
It can be tough to get a friend to try a craft beer because they are so used to what they already drink. Craft beers are often much more complex in flavour profile. Yet there are quite a few brands and brews that make great alternatives to the big brewing companies. Use this guide to look at what they already enjoy drinking and find a craft beer equivalent for them.
Heineken – In this category you are looking for what’s known as euro lagers. Once you’ve tried a genuine one, imported from Amsterdam, Germany or Switzerland you are going to be shocked and heartbroken that you ever requested Heineken as your favourite beer. Stock rotates quickly on these imports at local stores and can vary dramatically from time-to-time. A great alternative to start with is Hofbrau from Munich. It’s a standard euro lager and will be a full step above anything you have ever tried in an American bar.
Budweiser – If you are in Pennsylvania or Florida you may have found an alternative in Yuengling, truly America’s oldest lager. Sam Adams is also a great solid choice. But if you are looking for a craft beer instead you have a lot to choose from. Give Toronto’s most exciting pilsner, Steam Whistle a try. It has a simple ingredient profile that is all about quality and richness of flavour. Clean and crisp like Budweiser never was.
Corona and Light Beers – Apparently Corona tastes better in Mexico because the beer doesn’t travel and the sunlight can’t destroy it through its clear bottles. Nevertheless, there are a ton of craft beer alternative to one of the top 5 brands in the world. Bohemia Clasica is a great alternative but be careful you may not return to your island retreat. If you’re looking for a North American alternative try looking for a craft beer described as a cream ale, blonde ale or a kolsch. They make a great transition.
Molson or Labatt Blue– If you have affinity towards Canada or just appreciate the solid, no frills flavor of a Lager, try one of the many Canadian Craft Beers available. Muskoka is an award winning lager out of Ontario and sure to please many. If you want to try Canada’s most award winning craft beer nothing beats La Fin du Monde. It has that great combination of malt, fruit and spice and is a perfect alternative to the typical Canadian beers.
Guinness – Few mainstream beer drinkers enjoy a strong stout like a Guinness. Even so there are many craft beers that will give great variety in this class of drinks. If you are already drinking such a strong beer why not take it a bit further? Give Java Stout a try made by Bell’s Brewery, one of America’s fastest growing micro brews. This beer takes the coffee flavour common to stouts and really enforces it by taking it to another level. Imagine your favourite black coffee, bitter, chocolate and rich, mixed with the Irish classic. Stouts are one of the most popular craft beers so you should have no trouble finding one at your local store.
Blue Moon or Shock Top – Belgium white and wheat beers, great for hot days of summer are increasingly popular among young people but don’t make the mistake that these two giants are microbrews. If you are looking for a microbrew to compare check out Allagash White. It maintains that refreshing summer flavor but has such a more dramatic flavour profile. Blue Moon and Shock Top are great segway beers to get someone interested in microbrews. If you have success with Allagash introduce them to something like Oberon or Dogfish Head Namaste. They are great American craft beers. If you’re in Canada the best Belgium White is Blacnhe de Chambly by the infamous Quebec brewery Unibroue.
Central City Brewing in Surrey, BC is hosting their annual Summer Cask Festival this Saturday (July 20th 2015) and at least 20 craft breweries will bringing casks to sample. There should be a good variety of craft beer and even a few ciders.
Aside from the beer, there will be food, prizes, friends and fun. Of course CraftBeer.ca will also be stopping by to check things out!
Some of the breweries who have confirmed attendance are listed below;
Tickets are still available for the event and are being sold through Eventbrite. Prices are posted at $30 per ticket + tax and a $2.79 handling fee. The cost of the ticket includes a tasting glass and 3 tokens to redeem for samples.
Here’s a quick link to the ticket sales page: Summer Cask Festival Tickets
Be sure to check back later for a recap from CraftBeer.ca’s time at the festival.
Share your Cask Festival experience with us through our Contact Page
I have fond memories as a kid waking up each Easter Sunday morning to go on an egg hunt, collecting little colourful eggs and other treats hidden all over my house and sometimes yard. I’ve since grown up and had a family of my own, so I have enjoyed passing on the tradition to the next generation of little ones. While it’s certainly fun to recreate those fond memories in the younger generation, I sometimes long for those magical moments as a kid where something special happened that you didn’t quite understand how it worked, but it was so cool you didn’t care to find out. That being said, what if I told you it was possible to recreate a little bit of that Easter magic for yourself by hunting for new craft beers and pairing them with some classic Easter Treats to give a new perspective on some old favourites for us grown-ups.
Cadbury Cream Eggs were always the highlight of my Easter Egg hunt when I was young, as finding one of those was like finding a pure golden egg. There’s something special about that creamy custard like center surrounded by decent quality chocolate all perfectly proportioned in an egg shape that tastes amazing and unique. Usually limited to 3-5 per egg hunt, these suckers were cat’s meow and are still one of my favourite treats to this day. I could barely contain my excitement when it was about time to pair them with a craft beer and I was up for the challenge since it’s a tough one to find a good beer for.
High sugar candies like cream eggs aren’t always the best companions for beer pairings, where richer foods tend to do better, so I had to think hard to find something that would work here. Low and behold, I eventually chose an Espresso Milk Stout made by British Columbia brewers Fuggles & Warlock. This particular beer has quite a few coffee notes in it, with a bit cherry wood, a smooth creamy texture and a chocolate milk flavour that comes from the intentional addition of lactose in the brewing process. When combined, the custardy middle of the cream egg got insanely buttery, creamy and generally richer while the chocolate outside was even more pronounced. It was kind of like the beer deconstructed the cream egg into parts and then at the end reconstructed them all back together as a sum of all the good parts. This was heavenly, like really, really good! Milk stouts are hard to find, you should track one down and give this a shot or as an alternate you could try a Cream Ale to get a similar effect.
Simply by association, carrot cake makes a great Easter themed cake or cupcake to be served after a meal or as a mid day treat on Easter Weekend. Typically topped with a dollop of cream cheese icing, this fairly moist cake is often filled with nuts, raisins, pineapple and tastes a little grainy with a good spice, tart and sweet combination. This can be a tough dessert to pair with since it has a lot of things going on a once so you’ll want something that plays along with the cake without overpowering any of the flavours.
To match up with carrot cake, I chose a St. Ambroise Apricot Wheat Ale which is made by McAuslan Brewing from Montreal, Quebec. This beer has a nice fruity apricot tart character to it, a wheat texture, some cereal grain malts and a fairly clean finish as it is a filtered wheat beer. I found that when served together, the beer brought out more of the tartness in the cream cheese icing of my carrot cake cupcake, highlighted some of the carrot sweetness and cut into the creamy frosting while increasing the apricot in the beer and the grainy texture on both of them. This worked pretty well, as both foods were enjoyable together and helped each other out quite nicely, allowing an appreciation for each of their unique flavours and enhancing some of the more prominent ones. Other beer styles to try include a spicy Saison, or a Winter Ale that has some winter spices in it.
Second only to cream eggs, peanut butter filled eggs were also a big favourite of mine as kid and still to this day I am anle to scarf them down with ease. Reese’s peanut butter cups are easily available year round and peanut butter and chocolate go together so ridiculously well, but what makes these special is that they have a much better chocolate to peanut butter ratio in Easter Egg form than they do as peanut butter cups. They have just enough chocolate to round out the sweet salty peanut butter and are a good candidate for a beer pairing because of that.
Here I went with an Organic Triple Chocolate Stout made by Nelson Brewery in British Columbia, which is a beer that has a chocolate base, a bit smoke, some roasted coffee notes and bits of tar throughout. Paired with the peanut butter egg, this beer changed a lot and hid the chocolate notes while enhancing the coffee, the smoke, and it brought out some hidden cocoa nibs. For the treat, the peanut butter got richer, saltier, a little bit creamier and the chocolate shell played a bigger role in the overall chocolate and peanut butter mix. Another decent pairing, I find that pairing chocolate beers with other chocolate treats is an interesting way to explore the other malts in a beer of this style while enhancing the chocolate treat. It would also be interesting with a Porter or even an Amber ale if you aren’t sure about using a Chocolate Stout or simply can’t find one.
Traditionally these religious buns were marked with a cross and eaten on Good Friday, however they are now available weeks or months before Easter at every bakery around the start of spring. They are so famous that they even have their own nursery rhyme song, which if you have ever played the recorder in grade school, well you know the exact song I am talking about. Admittedly, I hated these as a kid, however as I have gotten older and acquired a taste for malty fruity flavours I find myself liking them more and more. Since they still tend to be a bit festive, I thought they would be interesting to try with a malty fruity beer style like a Dunkel.
Mill Street Brewery in Ontario makes a Munich Dunkel beer called Dammerung (“twilight” in German), which is a dark lager style beer that is malt forward with raisin and toffee malts accompanied by over ripened fruit, chocolate and leathery overtones. When paired with a hot cross bun, the toffee and raisin notes complement the raisins and fruits in the bun quite well and work to enrich each other by bringing their flavours to the forefront. The wheat and grains in the bread come through nicely, highlighting some nutty grains and a sweet finish to both the bread and the beer. For alternate styles, any sort of fruit beer could work well or a crazy malt forward style like an Eisbock would be a big hit too.
Typically white chocolate is made from cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids and doesn’t contain any actual cocoa solids, thus not making it an actual chocolate – but that doesn’t matter because when made right it is quite delicious. Because of its make up though, this is one of the zanier pairings of the bunch, where it’s a bit risky to try and find something that will be a rewarding duo. I decided to try this with an Imperial White IPA and it was quite a unique experience!
Parallel 49 in British Columbia makes a winter White IPA called Toques of Hazzard that features two toque wearing, hockey stick toting dudes riding a Zamboni that resembles the General Lee car. The beer features some nice floral hop notes, some passion fruit, pine, lemon flavours with doughy bread malts to round it out which had a nice contrast effect on the buttery, cheesy white chocolate bunny. I found that the hop bitterness intensified pretty quickly into a pleasurable mix of bitter pine, grapefruit, lemon citrus and tangerine flavours while the white chocolate tasted more like malty cheese with a buttery aftertaste. As a pairing, this was one of those odd cases where it just kind of works on a different level and would make for a good way to impress party goers with your beer and food pairing skills. A Belgian blonde style ale might work well here, but you’d need to experiment a lot to get another one to work I think.
There are many different styles of beers that would pair up nicely with the different courses of a typical Easter dinner, yet one of the challenges with drinking certain styles like IPA’s or strong Belgian Ale’s is that you are likely to overpower one or more parts of the meal. A solid go to style that I prefer is a Saison, which is usually a bit spicy and very effervescent so it will cleanse your palate between bites and won’t fill you up or knock you down depending on your choice in beer. A simple Nut Brown is another good choice as it won’t clash with much, or even a Craft Lager is ok for a dinner drink since again this style of beer will not over power any one dish. At the end of the day though, I’d still lean towards a Saison as a safe, yet very flavourful bet to go with your meal.