Close your eyes and take a deep breath — it’s autumn again! The air is alive with the smell of the harvest and Nova Scotia’s many cideries and breweries are churning out fl avourful and complex offerings to excite your palate and warm your bones. Whether you prefer malty, spicy or bitter ales, or gravitate toward fresh and crisp ciders, you won’t be disappointed with this season’s selection at the NSLC.
To get the inside scoop on our local libations, I turned to the producers themselves. What inspires them to create their recipes and more importantly for you, what sorts of seasonal dishes do they recommend you pair with their cider or beer?
1. Muwin Estates
Bulwark Traditional Craft Cider
For Bulwark, 2015 is the year of the cider. After winning gold at the Canadian Brewing Awards, being proudly poured at the Halifax Jazz Festival and seeing overall cider sales skyrocket at the NSLC, it has been a very promising year for cider enthusiasts in Nova Scotia. According to Gabrielle Pope, Marketing and Communications Manager at Bulwark Cider, “Cider is the perfect drink for the fall as Nova Scotia’s abundant apple harvest is famed and revered by both farmers and apple enthusiasts alike.” Unlike local wine, which patiently cellars, seasonally fresh cider is available almost immediately after the autumn
apples are harvested. Pope recommended cracking open their dry and crisp Traditional Original Cider alongside your holiday favourites — “Traditional turkey dinners with all the fixings, roasted fall vegetables in a cider marinade, barbecued burgers (before the snow) and also as an accompaniment to varied cheese plates.”
2. Petite Riviere
Shipbuilders Cider & Stutz Premium Craft Cider
Petite Riviere offers two distinct styles of cider to satisfy any palate. Both made with 100% Annapolis Valley heritage apples, Shipbuilders and Stutz Premium will remind you of the first fresh apple you handpicked in your childhood. If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter and highly refreshing option, go with Stutz, which is made with varieties like McIntosh, Cortland and Jona Gold says Barbara Thomson, cider product consultant and owner of Petite Riviere. But if you fancy a stronger or drier sparkling cider, then Shipbuilders, which is made in the true British “scrumpy” style, is for you.
Thomson is chock full of mouthwatering pairing suggestions — both pair well with butternut squash, roasted vegetables, sage risotto, fresh sausages or classic apple pie. A fruity Stutz is the perfect complement to a classic pizza, “cutting through sharp
and acidic toppings such as green peppers while balancing the fattier character of mozzarella.” Shipbuilders’ rustic quality would go nicely with earthy and vegetal pizza toppings, “finished with quality olive oil.” Is your mouth watering yet?
3. Garrison Brewing
Sweet Rye’d Harvest Wheat Ale
One of Halifax’s veteran craft brewer — Garrison Brewing — is well known for their adventurous seasonal and specialty beers, always pushing the envelope with creativity and taste. As the brewmaster behind Garrison’s creations, Daniel Girard has the palate to match any beer with seasonal fare. Now back on
the shelves at the NSLC, Girard says his Sweet Rye’d Harvest Wheat Ale is the perfect fall beer. “It’s earthy due to the hop and the bog myrtle, it’s spicy because of the rye malt addition, it has good licorice and caramel flavours due to a copious amount of Munich malt and finally, it’s well balanced by nice citrusy hops and the peppery character of the rye.” At 6 % Alchol by Volume, this cornucopia of flavour pairs well with pub dishes, hearty meats and stewed veggies. Girard suggests you pair it with a nice peppery beef stew and promises you won’t be disappointed.
4. Boxing Rock Brewery
Temptation Red Ale
Located in the seaside village of Shelburne, Boxing Rock Brewery has taken the craft beer world by storm. Whether they fill your growler at the Seaport Farmers’ Market or fill your pint at one of our province’s many local pubs, Boxing Rock’s hearty and malt-focused ales shine during the harvest season. Engineer-turned-brewmaster, Emily Tipton says their Temptation Red Ale has “just the right balance of malty sweetness, mouth-filling body and complexity and hoppy bright liveliness that always reminds us of the fall. It’s a time of the year where we reap the bounty of the past summer and reflect on the months to come.” This versatile beer pairs wonderfully with an array of fall dishes, including roasted squash risotto, fava bean stew and pork chops with harvest apples. Make sure you take a long, deep whiff of Temptation Red and you may just notice the fresh aroma of hops grown by local producers. It’s Nova Scotia autumn in a glass.
5. Hell Bay Brewing
Small but mighty, Hell Bay Brewing Company in Liverpool can do no wrong. Insanely smooth and highly quaffable, their ales are a regularly stocked item in any serious beer lover’s refrigerator. Hell Bay’s English Ale, more commonly known as an English Bitter, uses five specially selected American malts to give it its distinctive characteristics, featuring notes of caramel and biscuit with a sturdy hop bitterness. Husband and wife duo Mark and Melanie Baillie are both trained chefs turned brewery owners who delight in pairing their brews with seasonally inspired dishes. Melanie suggests pairing their English Ale with “rich, big-flavoured food, letting the balanced malts and sharp hop finish cleanse the palate between bites.” Try venison stew cooked with bacon and seasonal root vegetables. Throw in lots of thyme and a little English Ale in the crock pot for a delightful marriage of flavours.
6. Tideview Cider
Tideview Heritage Dry Cider
Tideview Ciders are produced by Noggins Corner Farm in the Annapolis Valley. Now in their ninth generation of family farmers, Noggins has become a trusted face in the local agricultural community. Their cider truly reflects the care they put into all their farm offerings. Tideview Heritage Dry Cider “starts with rare heirloom apples picked right from our farm in the Annapolis Valley,” says James Harlow, the cider maker at Noggins. “We slowly ferment fresh-pressed juice in small batches and blend them with the utmost care. It’s handcrafted premium hard cider for folks who demand more than the average fare.” Made with apple varieties such as Golden Russet and Northern Spy, this cider will “enhance food with delicate flavours, such as seafood in a cream sauce, roast chicken and mild cheese.”
When you picture the iconic chef, does the image of them quaffing fine wine paired with beautifully prepared dishes come to mind? While wine’s flavour, texture and alcohol warmth complement many of our favourite
foods, don’t forget about wine’s mighty culinary cousin: beer. There is much more to beer than the post-work pint. From pilsners to barley wine and everything in between, beer offers a wide variety of subtle and complex
characteristics that can complement any ingredient or cuisine. Unlike non-sparkling wine, beer’s effervescent carbonation helps scrub the palate, making it easier to taste both delicate and rich flavours. No one knows this
better than Nova Scotia’s top chefs, and we have the inside scoop on their favourite local beers for the fall season.
Chef Graeme Ruppel, Stillwell Beer Bar
“Next time you’re at Stillwell, you must try our diner burger (or any other burger with mushrooms) matched with smoked porter. Smoked porter has the body to hold up against the savouriness of the burger and a touch of sweetness to balance against it. If you’re at home, try an herb-marinated grilled chicken and Boxing Rock Hunky Dory. The mild tannins from the green tea (which is an ingredient in the beer) help the beer stand up to the charred character acquired from the grilling process, without overpowering the more delicate flavours of the fish.”
Chef Geir Simensen, The Stubborn Goat Gastropub and Scanway
“Picking a favourite beer right now is no easy task! So many great choices for different things. I grill a lot during the early warm days of fall and have a lot of simple sides. A couple of really easy drinking smooth beers like Propeller Pumpkin Ale and Garrison IPA go well with grilled fish and squash or a tinfoil pouch filled with potatoes, leeks and dill. Burgers and grilled veggies are also easy and local cheeses to go with them are now easily found! Fall is perfect for exploring the local markets and breweries and then hitting the deck with a charcoal grill, some local beer and great friends.”
Chef Will Munro, The Wooden Monkey
“Garrison Tall Ship Amber is also tasty after a long day in the kitchen … and usually one is not enough! It goes great with grilled steak or chicken as it is not too heavy. At home, I will have Tall Ship available to my guests when I am preparing spicy foods such as tacos, chili and curries, as this light drink is perfect for balancing the heat.”