Follow beer writer, Troy Burtch, as he explores the wonderful world of craft beer and the pubs that serve it. Great Canadian Beer is a place to come to catch up on beer news, read tasting notes, check out event listings, and for pub previews and reviews.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Great Lakes and Seafood Make a Nice Match

It isn't that often that I get invited to a food event as I don't write about food, but last Thursday I was presented with an opportunity to head over to the famed Starfish Oyster Bed & Grill seafood restaurant to indulge in a number of fabulous seafood dishes, which were paired up with beers from Great Lakes Brewing Co.

The Farmed Seafood Extravaganza (as it was called) was organized by the Canadian Aquaculture Industry Alliance who were in town to celebrate every type of seafood farmed in Canadian waters. There were representatives from various companies who had traveled from all parts of the country to showcase their products.

To be honest, I had no idea what I was really attending. I thought it was going to be a dinner of some sorts with a number of courses paired with different Great Lakes beer. However, when I arrived it was announced that a number of foods would be served shortly and it was going to be a stand-up social event, with the bar soon to be covered with plates and plates and plates of various seafood dished prepared by Starfish Chef Kyle Deming. Each of the dishes were given a suggested Great Lakes beer to serve it with and John Bowden was on hand to help explain how he choose the pairing and why he thought it went together. I was expecting to see some familiar faces, like at all beer events, but the only people I knew there Taste TO husband and wife tag team, Greg Clow and Sheryl Kirby who are way more schooled in the culinary arts than I, so I listened keenly to their observations.

Bowden was pouring from bottles of Orange Peel Ale, Red Leaf Lager, along with cans of Devil's Pale Ale, and Patrick McMurray, the well known oyster shucker and owner of the Ceili Cottage and Starfish, was pouring glasses of Pumpkin Ale from the tap for all the people in attendance. McMurray was also working his oyster knife to the delight of the hungry crowd. There was some outstanding food to sample from, and the matching of the beer was nicely done. Here are some examples of what was available.

Peat smoked Atlantic salmon with horseradish creme fraiche
Pairing: Devil’s Pale Ale

Atlantic mussels steamed in Orange Peel Ale
Pairing: Orange Peel Ale

Seared Rainbow trout with wax beans and hazelnuts
Pairing: Red Leaf Lager

Sablefish poached in garlic olive oil with chorizo salt
Pairing: Pumpkin Ale

BC scallop ceviche with yellow curry and coconut
Pairing: Golden Horseshoe Premium Lager

Whole roasted halibut with chive butter
Pairing: Pumpkin Ale

Throughout the night, Executive Director of the CAIA Ruth Salmon (ironic last name), spoke about the alliance and and I really enjoyed hearing her bring up why beer was chosen to go with the food other than wine. Salmon mentioned that wine and seafood pairings have been done numerous times and although enjoyable, pairing beer with seafood offers people a new way to enlighten their farmed seafood experiences while supporting small local regional breweries - like seafood, beer is best consumed in its freshest state.

So what did I take away from this experience? Well, for starters, it was great to see craft beer getting some attention from a national industry association that has deep roots in the Canadian seafood industry. Craft beer, Great Lakes in particular, was being showcased to a group of professionals here from all over Canada, and that will hopefully translate into further partnerships with other craft breweries around the nation at future events like this one.

* Pic 1 - Starfish owner, Patrick McMurray
* Pic 2 - Great Lakes, John Bowden
* Pic 3 - line-up of samples

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