September 1, 2020
By: Emilie Lapointe
As summer is coming to a close and the nice weather is slipping through our fingers, my family and I have been determined to make the most of this time together. This weekend we decided to support local and have a BBQ featuring one of our favourite beverages – beer!
All the members of my family are grown up now, so our idea of family fun has evolved over time. One of the things we’ve been enjoying the most is beer tastings. Fun fact: I’m a Prud’homme certified beer connoisseur and my dad has refined his palate over the years, so we love trying new craft beers and coming up with interesting pairings together.
Oakville’s very own family-run brewery Cameron’s is the home of some incredible, award-winning brews – they’ve been recognized locally, nationally, and globally in over 240 competitions since they opened in 1997.
Their bottle shop is open and their lineup is available in The Beer Store and LCBOs locally. What better way to support local brews than to have a family BBQ with a menu tailored specifically to get the most out of each one? You can have a full Oakville beer tour in the comfort of your own backyard!
Time for the basics
Let’s cover some basics to start. Below is a beer glossary with some of the terms we’ll be using to describe each pour:
When hosting a beer tasting and beer pairing there are a few key concepts to keep in mind. The three C’s of finding the perfect food pairing with any beer are:
- Contrast – The idea here: opposites attract. A sweet fruity beer with a tart or bitter dessert will provide a whole new flavour experience
- Cut – Similar to contrast, but allows for even more creativity. The idea is to pair big bold flavours with a beer that will take it down a notch. Use this kind of pairing as a palate cleanser
- Complement – The goal is to find similar flavours and aromas with your food and beer with this type of pairing. Something that will not compete with your meal and will elevate the same kinds of flavours in both your plate and pint
Wine has always been touted as the drink with specific pairings and tasting notes. Go on any wine tour and you’ll be instructed on a step-by-step process to tasting each wine. What you may be surprised to hear is that beer also has this process (minus the spitting in a bucket thing). The process is as follows:
- Look – The colour of a beer will give you some clue about its flavour. For example, the longer the malt is roasted, the more caramel, toffee, espresso or chocolate flavours you’ll get. Note whether its cloudy (unfiltered) or clear (filtered)
- Smell – A lot of our sense of taste comes from our sense of smell. Beer gives off some enticing aromatics – you might smell citrus notes, floral notes, piney notes etc.
- Sip – Everyone’s favourite part!
- Sip again – After you’ve had a chance to really revel in that first sip and let it sit on your palate. That second taste will allow you to take in all those initial flavours
What to drink
For my family, a beer tasting isn’t complete without at least one IPA, so getting the Jurassic IPA was a no-brainer. To round out our menu, I also chose Captain’s Log lager, their India Pale Lager 12 Mile and their red ale Ambear.
What to eat
I prefer to really highlight the beers by keeping a pairing menu fresh and simple. It’s important to balance your flavours and keep in mind whether you want to provide a cut, contrast or complement.
I started our menu with the lightest, most sessionable beers (Captain’s Log and 12 Mile) and paired them with two fresh small plates – a tropical ceviche and a watermelon, mint and feta salad. Fresh, light, citrus flavours will complement these beers because they’re not too heavy and will bring out the subtle citrus notes in the pours.
Next up: Burgers! Is there any better combination than burgers and beer? I got our hand-ground top sirloin from our Best BBQ TOTT winner Marbled Meats and it made all the difference. Typically, IPAs pair well with fatty and spicy foods, as the bitterness from the hops cut well through those flavours. Our burger had it all: brioche buns, crispy onions, bacon, chipotle aioli, aged cheddar and jalapeno!
And finally, for that sweet treat, I got a little creative. Red ales pair well with grilled meats, but I chose to pick up on the subtle caramel notes and sweetness from the roasted malt and paired the Ambear with Portuguese custard tarts from Aveiro Bakery! Something with vanilla flavours, custard or caramelization will really bring out that sweetness in the pour!
Ultimately, if you like a beer it will taste good with almost anything, but there are ways to experience and pair beers in new and exciting ways. The best pairing is a clinking cheers amongst family and a good time out in the sun!
My family and I are excited to visit Cameron’s again once they have their seven new tanks, a taproom, entertaining space and more! I was told they have a few ideas and tricks up their sleeves that will make Cameron’s one of Oakville’s best hang out spots for grown up families like mine!