Crafty Thinking

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TORONTO – What do you get when you introduce a gaggle of thirsty F&B writers and industry insiders to six unique, award-winning American craft beers, each of which has been paired with a delicious course at Toronto’s unofficial home of beer? A packed house.

On Monday, October 19, restaurateurs, bartenders, sommeliers, wine and beer agents and F&B writers got together at the Beerbistro in downtown Toronto for the American Craft Beer Dinner. Hosted by the Brewers Association – USA, with help from noted beer author Stephen Beaumont — who served as the evening’s emcee — attendees were invited to taste their way around some of the hottest beer regions in the U.S. and see for themselves just what makes American craft brewers the world’s most creative and innovative hop heads.

“In 1985, there were four of five craft brewers in the United States,” said Mark Snyder of the Brewers Association, who organized the event. “Today, there are more than 1,500 small, independent craft brewers,” he added, noting the incredible growth of the industry.

In the six-course pairing dinner, which was thoughtfully created by the culinary team at the Beerbistro, with an assist from Beaumont, dishes that would perfectly balance the beer being served were selected. Beaumont introduced each rich and flavourful American craft beer on the menu and shared his thoughts on the pairings, highlighting the fact that beer can pair perfectly with every course in a six-course meal, from amuse, to soup and salad, to entrée and dessert.

Brewery reps Russ Klisch of Lakefront Brewery in Milwaulkee, Bill Covaleski of Victory Brewing Co. in Downingtown, Pa., Mike Turriff of Jolly Pumpkin Artisan Ales in Dexter, Mich., Adin Wener, representing the Boston Beer Co., and Sebbie Buhler of Rogue Ales in Ashland, Ore., were also on-hand to tell the colourful stories behind their tasty brews. Dogfish Head 60 min IPA — a favourite ale among beer nerds — was part of the dinner as well. Each beer is currently available on the LCBO’s general list.

While every pairing was on point, the Jolly Pumpkin La Roja, which was served alongside a Canadian artisanal cheese plate, stole the show. With a lovely amber colour, this Flanders-style beer is unfiltered, unpasteurized and naturally aged in oak barrels for between two and 10 months.

Photo courtesy of Signe Langford

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