Sunday, April 7, 2013

Cocktail Anyone? Craft Beer Cocktails That Is

What the hell is a beer cocktail you say? You may have noticed them recently on some bar/restaurant menus but haven’t tried them. I was in the same boat until Friday night. Pumphouse Pub had their monthly craft beer longtable dinner with Beerthirst beers and I was intrigued to try the cocktails. Chef Daniela Iaci never fails to impress with her food pairings so spending $40 for a five course meal paired with cocktails created by Mike Summers was a no-brainer.

This was the first time beer cocktails have been served at the Pumphouse. Since the craft beer line-up changes every two or three days as another keg is drained, it’s pretty hard to keep a regular beer cocktail list consistent. It will be interesting to see if they add a couple to their menu.

Cocktail: Patio Sipper – Alameda Peppercorn Saison, muddled cucumber, gin
The pepper from the saison came through in this refreshing drink. The cucumber gave it a mojito-ish feel. Patio Sipper is an appropriate name as these scream for summer. The glassware didn’t treat the ice well as it became a bit watered down, but they figured this later and ditched the ice.

Food Pairing: Crab cake with arugula tossed with a botanical dressing
I love crab cakes and I knew they were awesome when I saw my I-don’t-eat-seafood-husband polish his off in a nanosecond. The crab cakes were tender, full of fresh, flavourful crab and peppercorn. Delish.


Cocktail: Dusty Rose – Alameda Rose City Red Ale, rose syrup, bitters, ginger ale
The red ale and ginger ale combo is another great summer cocktail. The bitters were prominent but not over powering. This was an exceptionally good pairing as the cocktail cut through the spiciness of the salad.

Food Pairing: Middle European-style carrot ginger salad
Carrots, raisins, curry, ginger – nailed it. The right amount of spicy, tangy and refreshing. Slow golf clap.


Cocktail: Pumpkin Spice Beer Tea – Elysian/Lost Abbey Avant Gourde, chai tea, milk, spiced rum
Not sure I’d call this drink pumpkin but if anyone would like to whip up one of these for me every morning, I’ll leave a few beers for you in my will. Good ones. This is my kind of tasty tea.

Food Pairing: Lamb tangine with almonds, olives and preserved lemons
The succulent, tender lamb stew was served on rice and our table was unnaturally silent as all was consumed. Me thinks everyone enjoyed this pairing.


Cocktail: Bear Trap – Bear Republic Big Bear Stout, crème de cacao, Jack Daniels
This was the first cocktail that tasted like beer, not surprising since it’s a stout. The smokiness of the stout paired perfectly with the tenderloin.

Food Pairing: Coffee encrusted pork tenderloin with a beer reduction
Lots of flavour in this puppy. The coffee/pepper crust complimented the tender pork and you bet your ass I swept each piece in the reduction. Gorgeous.

Cocktail: The Calabrese – Elysian Immortal IPA, Campari, orange juice
You don’t often see an IPA paired with a dessert but the citrus in the IPA found the grapefruit curd in the cupcake and did a slow dance. Cheek to cheek. Great cocktail and an even better pairing.

Food Pairing: Citrus cupcake filled with grapefruit curd and cream cheese frosting
This dense cupcake was a hit. When two of the servers say how amazing it is before it’s served, you know there was some pre-dinner sampling that I WASN’T INVITED TO. Whoops. Didn’t mean to yell. ;) That said, the cupcake was perfect.

Not sure I’d choose craft beer cocktails often, over a pint, but they are certainly a great option. Especially for those who may not like beer, the first three cocktails hid the beer and shone as a refreshing cocktail. Patio season anyone?

it occurred to me recently that some may think that I review a beer dinner because my meal was comp’d but this isn’t the case. I write blog posts on what interests me. Full stop. My opinions are just that – mine – and they are my honest impression of the dinner.  I have never been disappointed with a beer dinner, or any meal for that matter, at the Pumphouse so if you have yet to try a dinner I suggest you come to one and see for yourself. Now go try a beer cocktail and see a different side of craft beer.

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