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.
Keep reading this post
This article was originally written in February 2007 for the food & drink website Taste T.O., and republished here in September 2011 (but back-dated to match the original publication date) after the Taste T.O. blog was shut down and taken offline.
As a beer lover in Ontario, I have lots of things to complain about. Most of those complaints are directed towards the LCBO, where quality beer tends to be given short shrift while prime shelf space is given over to an avalanche of indistinguishable pale lagers from around the world.
Especially embarrassing is the remarkable lack of American craft beer at LCBO outlets. I mean, here’s a country that is producing some of the more exciting beer in the world right now, and they’re our biggest trading partner and our next-door neighbour. Yet here in Ontario, there are only two US craft beers on the general stock list at our retail liquor outlets: Samuel Adams Boston Lager and Anchor Liberty Ale.
Actually, make that three, because joining them this month is Brooklyn Lager ($12.40/6×355 mL, LCBO 26997). The flagship beer of the Brooklyn Brewery, this vibrant and flavourful all-malt lager was first released in 1987, a couple of years after the similar Samuel Adams Boston Lager was launched a bit further up the coast. Alongside the products of a handful of other craft brewing pioneers (including Ontario’s Brick, Upper Canada and Creemore Springs Breweries), these beers proved that not all lagers were pale, flavourless and full of cheap adjuncts like rice and corn.
Even today, when there are so many other great craft beers on the market, Brooklyn Lager remains a standard bearer in its style. It has a beautiful deep orange-amber colour with a soft white head, and a fresh aroma of bready malt and orange & lemon notes from the hops. The flavour has some slightly fruity sweetness off the top, before those citric and slightly floral hops kick in towards the finish. Some have described it as seeming like a hybrid between a malty lager and a hoppy pale ale, and having finally tried it, I can see where they’re coming from. Hybrid or not, it’s one of the best lagers we’ve seen in Ontario in a long time, and I can only hope it’s a sign that the LCBO may be looking to bring in more brews from south of the border – but I’m not holding my breath on that one.