Category Archives: beer dinners

Dogfish Head Dinner: Hot Damn!

Working at the same place for almost 20 years generally means you get some nice perks (assuming you work at the sort of place that provides perks, of course), which is why I am lucky enough to have five weeks of paid vacation a year. The problem, though, is that I’m really slack about taking that time off. I rarely travel, and I generally enjoy my job, so taking a big chunk of time off at once usually isn’t a priority for me.

So around this time every year, when I’ve only taken a handful of days off for short trips or appointments, I start to realise that I’d better start booking a few days here and there before I end up having to take the entire month of December off. Which is why I’m off work today (well, that and the fact that my wife, who works from home, it out of town today, so I needed to stay home to take care of our dogs who are a couple of spoiled brats that get a walk every 3-4 hours).

All of which is a long-winded explanation as to why I finally have some time to post something to this oft-neglected blog of mine. In fact, I might manage to get a few posts written today, although I’ll probably schedule them to post sporadically over the next week or two in order to fill what is bound to be another lengthy gap before I get around to writing something here again.

Today’s topic: The stupendous Dogfish Head beer dinner at beerbistro that I attended way back on Wednesday May 28th. As others have noted, this was possibly the best beer dinner Toronto has ever seen, and it was certainly the best I’ve ever attended. Even DFH’s Sam Calagione (pictured above right, along with Tom Peters from Monk’s Cafe in Philly who made a pit stop on his way to Mondiale in Montreal) was completely blown away, and said that it was in his top three DFH dinners ever.

The spectacular meal from beerbistro chef Brian Morin and his stellar kitchen staff featured nine courses, all of them playful takes on classic comfort foods, and each paired with a Dogfish Head beer, plus a bonus beer at the end. If you know anything about DFH, you’ll know that most of their beers are 6% and up, with some as high as 20%+, so it probably goes without saying that Thursday morning was a little blurry. But man, was it worth it.

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The Very Beery Month Of May

Wow, nearly a month since my last post. That’s a long time, even for an irregular and inconsistent blogger like myself. Lotsa things have been keeping me busy – in fact, looking back at my social calendar for the last month, you could say that I’ve just been too busy drinking good beer (+ other things) and eating great food to write about any of it…

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Southern Tier Beer Dinner


As usual, others have beat me to it, but I figure since I was a host and co-presenter of the Southern Tier beer dinner at the Academy of Spherical Arts last Friday, I should probably post a little write-up about it.

This was the first beer dinner presented by import agency Roland + Russell for one of their represented breweries, and while the turn-out was a bit lighter than they’d hoped (most likely due to the insane number of beer dinners that have taken place recently), it was still a great night. It definitely helped that the Academy is an absolutely gorgeous venue, and that the chef did a pretty fine job on the food and beer pairings. And having Phin DeMink and Paul Caine on hand from the brewery to speak and answer questions was a big plus as well.

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You'd Think We'd Never Seen An IPA Before

Those of you who don’t live in a jurisdiction with a nanny state style liquor board will probably find this hard to believe, but the fact that Southern Tier IPA is soon going to be available on the general stock list at the LCBO is a Really Big Deal to Ontario beer geeks. For the past couple of years, we’ve had a grand total of three American craft brews available in our retail liquor stores – Brooklyn Lager, Sam Adams Boston Lager and Anchor Liberty Ale – so the impending addition of another fine beer from south of the border has made us happy. (Even better: it will soon be joined by Dogfish Head 60 Minute and Rogue Dead Guy Ale!)

To celebrate the occasion, Southern Tier’s Ontario import agents Roland + Russell have arranged for brewery co-founder Phin DeMink and his brewmaster whose name escapes me at the moment to come up to Toronto for a couple of launch events this weekend.

The first is a dinner on Friday night at the Academy of Spherical Arts, featuring four Southern Tier beers paired with four food courses. Plus Phin and Mr. Brewmaster will be saying a few words, and there’ll be some tag team MC/host action from Cass Enright of The Bar Towel and yours truly. At 75 bucks (all taxes & tips included) for a gourmet meal, several beers, free pool on the Academy’s renowned tables, and the chance to see me make a complete ass of myself, it’s truly the bargain of the year.

And if you’re busy on Friday (or just a cheapass), there’s a free admission “meet & greet” at Volo on Saturday from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, where the Southern Tier duo will be hanging out to chat, and several ST beers will be available to purchase and enjoy. (Yes, I know that the Roland + Russell event page says that it costs $20. That was the original plan – a $20 ticket which included beer samples – but it changed.)

Hopefully, we’ll soon reach the point where a new American beer of quality coming to Ontario will be no big whoop. But for now, it’s a great excuse to get together and do it up right. Hope you can make it.

Bavaria/Koningshoeven Beer Dinner

This past Tuesday evening, the unofficial Month Of Beer Dinners continued with a dinner at the website-less Abbot On The Hill that featured three courses paired with beers from the Dutch breweries Bavaria and Koningshoeven.

I must admit that when I first heard about this dinner, I was a bit confused by the beer selections. Aside from the fact that both breweries are Dutch and are repped in Canada by Premier Brands, I couldn’t see much in common between a large (albeit family-run) brewery that specialises in mainstream lagers, and a small abbey brewery that produces Trappist ales. But as we learned during a talk by Daan Bastijn, president of Bavaria’s North American office in Atlanta, there is a connection between the two, as Bavaria took over the operations of the Koningshoeven brewery in 1999 in order to assist the aging monks in the production of the beer. This arrangement led to Koningshoeven losing the rights to use the official Trappist beer logo for several years, although when the contract was renewed in 2004, Bavaria stepped back into more of an arms-length role, and their official Trappist status was revived in 2005.

(Oh, and by the way, i forgot my camera and had to use my phone to take the photos in this post. Which explains why they’re even shittier than usual.)

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Fuller's Beer Dinner

This past Tuesday, thanks to the fine folks at Premier Brands, I had the opportunity to attend a Fuller’s Beer Dinner at the Duke of Westminster pub here in Toronto. The main purpose of the event was to mark the official launch of Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew on draught in Canada (previously, it was only available here in bottles on a limited basis), and Fuller’s Brewing Director John Keeling was on hand to talk about Fuller’s and to introduce the beers that we sampled throughout the night.

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Beer – It's What's For Dinner

beerfordinner.jpg

If you’ve been paying attention to The Bar Towel recently – or more specifically, to my news posts and the Beer Events forum over there – you’ll know that there are a crazy number of beer dinners coming up in Toronto over the next couple of months. I’ll be trying to make it out to as many of them as I can, and will post reviews of the ones that I attend, but for those who are in the area and would like to make it out to some themselves, here’s a quick round-up:

Monday, March 24th
Easter Beer Dinner

Abbot On The Hill, 1276 Yonge Street
$65 – call 416.920.9074 for reservations

A special Easter Monday dinner pairing five Belgian beers from import agents Roland & RussellMargriet, St Martin Blonde, St Martin Brune, Gouden Carolus Easter Beer & Boscoulis – paired with a five-course meal, including a main course of Rabbit Fricassee with Apricot Preserves & Spiced Pecans. [more details]

Tuesday, April 8th
Fuller’s Dinner with John Keeling

Duke of Westminster, First Canadian Place, 77 Adelaide Street West
$45 – call 416.368.2761 for reservations

Premier Brands presents a dinner with John Keeling, Brewing Director of Fuller’s Brewery, Chiswick, London, UK. Beers to be served include Fuller’s London Pride, Fuller’s ESB, Fuller’s London Porter & Fuller’s Organic Honey Dew. [more details]

Friday, April 11th
The Brewer’s Table
The Church at Berkeley, 315 Queen Street East
$150 – call 416.644-1012 to reserve

A benefit for Green Enterprise Toronto, co-presented by Local Food Plus and Slow Food Toronto. This first annual event celebrates slow food, local-sustainable food and farming, and import substitution in the winter/spring season in the Toronto region. Featuring finely crafted beers from Mill Street, Cameron’s, Wellington, Church Key, Steam Whistle and Black Oak to compliment dishes from Jamie Kennedy Kitchens, La Palette, Veritas, Cowbell, Gladstone Hotel and Rebel House, as well as variety of individual food artisans, oysters from Oyster Boy, and live jazz bands. [more details]

Friday, April 25th
Southern Tier Beer Dinner

The Academy of Spherical Arts, One Snooker Street
ticket info t.b.a.

Roland & Russell presents a dinner with Southern Tier‘s Phin DeMink to celebrate the arrival of Southern Tier IPA at the LCBO. There will also be a more casual “meet & greet” with Phin on Saturday, April 26th at Volo. Further details t.b.a.

April (date t.b.a.)
Bavaria/La Trappe Beer Dinner

Abbot On The Hill, 1276 Yonge Street
ticket info t.b.a.

Premier Brands presents a three-course dinner to mark the arrival of Bavaria on draught for the first time in Canada, and La Trappe (Koningshoeven) Bock for the first time in the Western Hemisphere. Further details t.b.a.

Wednesday, May 28th
Dogfish Head Beer Dinner

beerbistro, 18 King Street East
$100 – tickets on sale May 1st

A dinner with Sam Calagione of Dogfish Head, featuring the beer cuisine of beerbistro chef Brian Morin paired with a number of DFH beers, some available for the first time in Ontario. Further details t.b.a.

Brooklyn Brewery Dinner at beerbistro

This article was originally written in March 2007 for the now-defunct food and drink website Gremolata. It was re-published here in September 2011, but back-dated to appear in the blog archives close to its original publication date.

According to Brooklyn Brewery brewmaster Garrett Oliver, beer is better than wine.

OK, perhaps that’s both simplifying and exaggerating his stance a bit. I don’t know if he’s ever used the words “better than” to describe the relationship between the two beverages. But much of what Oliver has said and done in the past decade or so has made it quite clear that he feels that beer has gotten the short end of the stick for far too long, and that it is just as deserving as wine is to be paired with food of every sort. In fact, he’s been quoted as saying that beer has a much wider range of styles and flavours than wine does, and he attempted to prove it in The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer with Real Food, his 2003 book that has quickly become a bible to beer-friendly chefs the world over.

(I should also make it clear that Oliver is by no means an anti-wine zealot. On the contrary, he actually has great respect for the grape. He has been on several wine tasting panels, including one for the New York Times, and has travelled extensively in some of the world’s best wine regions. He just loves beer more.)

To mark the recent arrival of his brewery’s flagship Brooklyn Lager to LCBO shelves, Oliver came to town at the end of February for a sold-out six-course dinner at beerbistro. Together with Chef Brian Morin, he created a series of pairings that proved his beer-meets-food theories and showcased the diversity and quality of the Brooklyn Brewing line-up. And the pair also played around with the idea of “American” food to create some fun and unique dishes.

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