Wine has long held sway as the beverage of choice for those dining out or entertaining at home, often becoming the focal point for diners looking for something indulgent to complement their meal. But as craft beer culture continues to grow in popularity, so does the idea of harnessing its diverse flavours to bring new life to classic cuisines.
From the floral, citrus-like notes of a craft IPA, to the rich and malty flavours of a stout, restaurants across the region have found innovative ways to incorporate beer into the pairing suggestions on their menus, uncovering mouth-watering flavour profiles for beer enthusiasts.
Look no further than Newmarket’s own Hungry Brew Hops gastropub for proof that the concept works. “Our focus is beer. I always say if we aren’t good at beer, we may as well shut the doors,” comments Hungry Brew Hops owner Boris Fong. At this local hot spot, not only are the servers tested to ensure their beer and pairing knowledge is top-shelf, but beer is the main focus for menu development.
With 37 rotating taps, guests are able to create a new flavour experience every time they visit, even if they stick to their favourite menu items. “That’s the best part—we get to reinvent ourselves every day,” Fong explained.
Down the street at Cachet Restaurant and Bar, head chef Ian Creasor harnesses that same love for beer to dream up new flavours in the kitchen. From mussels bathed in beer broth, to pale ale cheese sauce and meats braised in stout, beer has been the star of several mouth-watering menu items at Cachet. “Beer not only complements and cleanses the palate, it adds new layers of flavours,” explained Creasor.
But it isn’t just restaurants who have found new inspiration; breweries themselves are drawing on food pairings to create bold new beers. Brew masters at Newmarket’s Market Brewing Co. recently de-stemmed 200-pounds of fresh Ontario strawberries to create a limited release Strawberry Fields Catharina Sour. Described as “Ontario summer in a glass,” the hazy pink beer with jam-like flavour is a great example of how in-season produce can enhance the beer making process. “We like to experiment with our recipes and add new flavour profiles based on what’s in season,” said Piers Simpkin, Marketing & Events Manager at Market Brewing. Similarly, Red Thread Brewing uses fresh, locally-sourced ingredients, including Ontario hops and grains, whenever possible to deliver a truly fresh craft beer experience. As a sommelier, managing partner Carl Milroy believes in delivering a carefully balanced beer that stands out on its own and complements even the most delicate of dishes. “Our beer is brewed in a lower carbonation style, changing the palate and allowing for a better tasting experience,” said Milroy.
Sociable Pub serves up delicious East Coast fare with traditional flair from their 19th century farmhouse on Yonge Street in Newmarket. Specializing in hearty East Coast comfort foods, from the rich stews of the Scots-Irish tradition to PEI mussels and Nova Scotia lobster, their cuisine is a mouth-watering hodgepodge of Scottish, English, Irish and Acadian influences. That makes for plenty of opportunity to experiment with a variety of beer and food combinations. “The spirit of the East Coast is infused with culinary genius and sure to please even the most discerning of palettes.“ says Manager Kim Shreeve.
Hungry Brew Hops,Newmarket
Cachet Supper Club, Newmarket
Market Brewing Co., Newmarket
Red Thread Brewing, Newmarket
by NICOLE BOGART