Sour beer aficionados in Vancouver rejoiced, sang praises to the sour beer gods and rushed to get tickets to BierCraft Bistro’s Pucker Up dinner on May 1st. I even skipped the best session of my Serious Beer Course – the food pairings and off-flavours session – to attend. Hopefully my lovely, wonderful instructor hasn’t any hard feelings for me picking sours over class. But he’ll understand as it was SOURS!
Sour beers have been brewed for centuries in Germany and Belgium. These days, craft brewers in North America are trying their hand at sour beers and we have numerous great examples from The Commons, Cascade Barrel House, The Bruery, Jolly Pumpkin and Logsdon Farmhouse Ales to name a few. The classic styles are Berliner Weisse, Flanders Red Ale, Flanders Brown/Old Bruin, Lambic and Geuze. The sour/acidic beer needs to be paired with the correct food, as does all beer, but the complex flavours shouldn’t scare you off. This dinner showed how sour beer and food can complement each other and enhance the sensory experience.
|Don Farion describing each course|
The Dinner:Biercraft co-owner, Don Farion, is a Cicerone and personally constructs the menu with his executive chef. The passion and knowledge Don has about sour beer is evident during his description of each course. Following Don was Rachaal Steele, BJCP (plus about ten other beer designations), who described the beers and explained how each beer would work with the food. Often, we were encouraged to try the food first, then to try it with the beer to see how it enhanced the experience.
1st CourseTwo beet borscht, goat cheese crumble, candied lemon zest
Paired with Iain Hill Oud Bruin
The ample portion of red and yellow beet borscht was perfect while the goat cheese added a punch of creamy zing. Iain Hill (from Yaletown Brewing Company) brews an amazing Oud Bruin and we were treated to a glass tonight. Malty, raisins, prunes and black cheery notes – such a great beer.
2nd CourseBaked blue brie, sofritto, granny smith apples
Paired with Cantillon Gueuze
The brie, baked in light pastry, and apples were a perfect pairing with the Cantillon. I haven’t had a beer from Cantillon that I didn’t love and this one is no exception. This highly carbonated beer has a funky hay/straw aroma and flavour as well apple, citrus, vanilla and is a classic gueuze.
3rd CourseAhi Tuna Tartar, toasted crouton
Paired with Mort Subite Kriek
The ahi was simply divine; perfectly cut and tender. This was paired with a lambic fruit beer which is a sweet, cherry sour beer. Sweet, fruity sour beers are not my favourite, but the pairing worked well.
4th CourseBangers and Mash – bratwurst, pork and apple sausage, root vegetable mash, sour cherry sauce chasseur
Paired with Duchesse de Bourgogne
Whoa. What a pairing. The pork and apple sausage and vegetable mash had amazing flavours and bowed to the Duchesse. The tangy sour cherry in the beer complimented the bratwurst and sausage.
5th CourseBing cherry parfait, Chantilly, crème anglaise
Paired with Petrus Aged Pale Ale
After the bangers and mash, I was pleased to see that the cherry parfait wasn’t heavy as I was already stuffed! The Petrus was the first sour pale ale I’ve had and I was impressed. The tart apple in the beer paired well with the bing cherries in the parfait.
Who doesn’t like a bonus beer? And what a treat – a 2009 Vintage Oak Aged Ale (Barrel No. 145) from Brouwerij Rodenbach. This flanders red ale has subtle earthy notes, tart red berries and oak. Thanks for cellaring these vintage beers, Don!
The dinner cost $60 for CAMRA members ($65 without membership) and was well worth the price. We thoroughly enjoyed the dinner, beers and sharing the experience with our fellow beer geek friends.