Mark DeWolf|Beer Building Blocks
If you just can’t bring yourself to give your husband another tie, or your wife another bottle of perfume this holiday season, then consider appealing to their sense of sight, taste and smell this season by creating a special beer-inspired gift basket accompanied with a book on the subject.
A Taste of Europe
Does someone in your life dream about visiting Europe? Give them the next best thing by filling their basket with flavours sourced from the other side of the Atlantic. While Italy has crafted a worldwide reputation for wine, it’s becoming increasingly known for the quality of its craft beer industry. Case in point is Ex-Fabrica, a brewery house in a converted marmalade factory in the neo-medieval village of Grazzano Viconti, in the commune of Piacenza, in Emilia-Romagna.
The beers themselves are all top fermenting, bottle conditioned ales, and are all made with an incredible amount of commitment to quality. According to Brewmaster Cristian Franzi, “we use only the best ingredients including malted barley from German, German and American hops and yeast strains from Germany, England and Ireland, to match the style of beer we are making.” Franzi also notes that everything about the brewing process is hands-on. Each beer is checked no less than 16 times.
Despite the engrained nature of wine on the Italian dinner table, Franzi says, “artisnal beer can be placed on the dinner table as an alternative.” Europe in fact has a long tradition of beer inspired cuisine. Belgium and Northern France have long culinary traditions of cuisine a la bière, as does Bavaria in Southern Germany.
If you want to discover more about the art of beer and food pairing, there is no better resource than The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver. The book has long considered the bible of beer and food pairing. The book provides insights into classic styles offers food and pairing charts and more. Add some Italian olive oil from Liquid Gold (www.allthingsoliveoil.ca) and you’ve got a complete package.
Ex-Fabrica Ciara ($18.95, mynslc.com) and available at The Port by the NSLC
The Brewmaster’s Table: Discovering the Pleasures of Real Beer and Real Food ($24.99, chapters.indigo.ca)
Ortice Reserva Olive Oil ($15, allthingsolive.ca)
A Taste of the Best of Canada
Give out some gold medal flavours with the Gahan Gold Medal Pack. The company recently struck gold at the 2016 Canadian Brewing Awards with a number of brews taking top honours. The Gold Medal Pack contains cans of their Setting Day Saison (Gold Medal Winner in the Session Ale category), Rogues Roost IPA (Gold Medal Winner English Style IPA), Vic Park Pale Ale (Session IPA) and Sir John A’s Honey Wheat (North American Wheat Beer).
As for the accompanying book, consider The World Atlas of Beer co-authored by Stephen Beaumont. Beaumont is Canada’s beer guru and one of the world’s foremost authority on the subject. The book describes the full gamut of the beer world including a strong section on Canadian beer.
What goes better with beer than cheese? A number of Maritime cheeses won top honours at the 2016 Canadian Cheese Awards including Cows Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar from PEI. Finish it all off with a great beer book. David Ort’s The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook is loaded with lots of great recipes and beer pairings.
Gahan Gold Medal Pack ($15.45, mynslc.com)
The World Atlas of Beer ($33, amazon.ca)
Cows Creamery Appletree Smoked Cheddar (cowscreamery.ca)
The Canadian Craft Beer Cookbook ($29.95, amazon.ca)
A Crafty Gift
Is someone in your home a craft beer lover? Are they always bringing a different brew to the occasion? If you want to give them a beer style they’ve never had before, consider Pump House Stonefire Ale. According to the brewery’s website, “centuries ago, to make beer, brewers had to immerse red-hot rocks at 700°C into the wort as they couldn’t heat up wooden vats directly with open fire. The intense heat lead to an almost instant caramelization of the sugars, which gave the beers a very distinguishable taste.” The brewery’s limited edition Stonefire Ale recreates this unique process.
There is no better reference point about all the world’s very unique beer styles than The World Atlas of Beer, which is co-authored by Stephen Beaumont, Canada’s most celebrated beer writer. There is unparalleled amount of information in this book, ranging from the history of making beer, maps of key regions, detailed information about every major beer producing country and so much more.
Of course, a unique premium beer deserves a fine vessel to serve it in. The choice of many Cicerones (certified beer experts) is the Teku Beer Glass. The glass has a tulip shape which concentrates and captures a beer’s aroma and its long stem prevents the warmth of your hand from adversely affecting the temperature of the beer.
Pump House Stonefire Ale ($14.99, mynslc.com)
The World Atlas of Beer ($34.00, amazon.ca)
Teku Beer Glass ($12.95, alambika.ca)
Ex-Fabrica Ciara, 750 ml, $18.95
Gahan Gold Medal Pack, 4 x 473 ml, $15.45
Pump House Stonefire Ale, 750 ml, $14.99
Next week: We serve beer and fondue for a cosy New Year’s Eve occasion.