Geoffrey J. Skeggs, Professor, Sommelier Program and Creator of the Beer Course
St. Patrick’s Day is once again upon us. The day when we can all feel we have ‘kissed the Blarney Stone’. But this year, skip the green beer and try something different. There is so much variety in beer available to us today. A great selection of imports from around the world coupled with an ever growing number of local microbreweries means that we are spoiled for choice.
But don’t leave your luck to the Irish! The LCBO website lists only 4 beers from Ireland: Guinness, Harp, Smithwicks and Kilkenny – all of which are owned by Guinness parent company Diageo.
So, by all means, enjoy a Guinness for me before dinner; but when it comes time to dine, eschew your favourite glass of wine and why not invite one of these beers to your table?
From Halifax, Nova Scotia comes this malty brown ale brewed by Propeller Brewing Company. Caramelized brown sugar with some nutty dried fruit aromas and a hint of metallic make this a great partner to any of your braised or stewed dishes. Bring on your traditional Irish stew!
India Pale Ales (IPA) were hoppier, higher alcohol versions of the Pale Ales drunk in Britain. They were immensely popular in the East Indies enjoyed with the local cuisine. Forget what you think you know about India Pale Ale; this is what this style of beer should taste like. From western New York comes this delicious IPA. Expect honeyed sweet malts overpowered by big citrus and pine flavours to create a huge hoppy bitter finish. The hops play off brilliantly with the heat and spice of the curries and other spicy foods.
A delicious dark brown, almost black beer, with wonderful coffee and chocolate aromas and flavours with a hint of wood smoke for good measure. Named after the porters (dockhands) that unloaded ships in London and Dublin, these hardworking men favoured the fuller bodied darker ales. As breweries attempted to differentiate themselves from each other they began to add monikers to describe their Porters such as Robust, Stout, etc. Stout Porters became the overwhelming favourite and soon were simply called Stouts. Try this example from Fuller’s a touch warmer than you might drink your regular beer and enjoy its smooth creamy flavours. Pair with vanilla ice cream or berry custard desserts.
Geoffrey J. Skeggs
Zymurgy Wines & Beers
286 Zephyr Avenue