Pairing craft beer and summer dishes with Muskoka Brewery

Muskoka Brewery held a tasting at Ethel's Lounge on July 23. (Photo by Will Huang)

Muskoka Brewery held a tasting at Ethel’s Lounge on July 23. (Photo by Will Huang)

The pairing of the right beer to a culinary dish can create a truly unique and delicious food experience. This is exactly the sort of philosophy Muskoka Brewery holds, as was exemplified by their tap-to-taste event at Ethel’s Lounge on July 23. Taking five of their all-natural and unfiltered craft beers, the brewery paired them each with a different food dish that represented the flavours and aromas of each beer.

“Pairing the right beer can make a big difference to the overall taste experience,” said the brewery’s founder, Gary McMullen.

Launched in the summer of 1996, Muskoka Brewery is nestled in Bracebridge, Ontario. They offer a wide range of beers, from India pale ales, to a summer weiss to British pale ales.

When pairing beer to any dish, McMullen emphasized the importance of knowing what you’re actually pairing.

“It’s important to match the strength of the beer with the strength of the food,” he said.

Handpicked dishes provided balanced flavours to tastings of the summer Weiss, Detour IPA, Cream Ale, Mad Tom IPA and Twice as Mad Tom IPA.

Summer Weiss

The Summer Weiss paired with a goat cheese, roasted red pepper and mushroom flatbread. (Photo by Will Huang)

The Summer Weiss paired with a goat cheese, roasted red pepper and mushroom flatbread. (Photo by Will Huang)

Muskoka’s seasonal summer beer is a German-style wheat beer, and it produces a tart flavor from start to finish. The Summer Weiss has medium to light body, carried by a refreshing firm taste from the carbonation, with a 5% alcohol by volume content.

Paired with a flatbread topped with goat cheese, roasted red peppers and cooked mushrooms, the carbonation of the Weiss with the goat cheese and mushrooms balanced well on the palate, both in terms of texture and taste. Appealing also to the notes of banana and spice in the beer, the flatbread matched it with a tartness and refreshing quality.

Detour IPA

Detour matched the flavours of fish tacos. (Photo by Will Huang)

Detour matched the flavours of shrimp, avocado and mango tacos. (Photo by Will Huang)

Launched at the beginning of 2014, Detour has the classic qualities of an IPA, such as the prominence of hops and supporting malt flavor. With an ABV of 4.3%, the lower amount of malts used offers a pine and tropical fruit flavouring to the beer.

Served with shrimp, mango and avocado soft-shell tacos, the tropical nature of the beer matched the citrus qualities of the dish. The clean and crisp taste of the beer mingled with the full flavours of the avocados and mangos, resulting in a smooth taste on the palate from the first mouthful to the last.

Cream Ale

Muskoka tasting - Will ONLINE 6

The original Cream Ale complimented smoked ribs. (Photo by Will Huang)

The brewery’s original beer is a British pale ale that showcases a higher malt count. Its caramel undertones and hints of coffee offer a well-balanced beer that is very food-flexible.

Presented with smoked ribs, the ale’s malty sweetness balanced the smoky flavours. In combination with the tenderness of the ribs, the smooth and easy-going nature of beer complimented the barbecue sauce and tenderness of the meat.

Mad Tom IPA

Mad Tom and beef sliders were paired together. (Photo by WIll Huang)

Mad Tom and beef sliders were paired together. (Photo by WIll Huang)

Styled after west coast IPAs, the Mad Tom IPA uses specialty hops that contribute to its citrus and piney flavour. With a 6.4% ABV, 64 IBU and the simplicity of just two hops used, the beer is characterized by an aggressive hoppiness.

Balancing out the hoppy nature of the beer was beef burger sliders. Cutting through the spiciness of the beef, the hops in the beer helped ensure an even-handed taste. In-between bits, Mad Tom cleansed the palate to allow for full appreciation of the meat.

Twice as Mad Tom IPA

Twice as Mad complimented the BBQ sauce in the pulled pork. (Photo by Will Huang)

Twice as Mad complimented the BBQ sauce in the pulled pork. (Photo by Will Huang)

With a 71 IBU and 8.4% ABV, Twice as Mad Tom IPA delivers a highly-recognizable hop aroma that leaves a warming effect on the palate as a result of the higher alcohol content. Leaving a lasting taste on the tongue, this IPA compliments more complex flavours.

Served alongside pulled pork sliders, this strong IPA’s hops rounded off the sweetness of the sauce. The bold flavours from both the beer and pork meshed well together, building off of each other’s well-defined and unabashed flavours.

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