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Table d’hôte: Brewmaster’s Dinner at Craft Beer Market

By Jordan Duff on August 9, 2016

Photo by Jordan Duff.

The mezzanine at Craft Beer Market. Photo by Jordan Duff.

The last Tuesday of every month, Craft Beer Market, at Lansdowne, hosts a $60 multi-course and multi-beer dinner. Productivity in Ottawa, on the last Wednesday of every month, is expected to suffer. I had the gastronomic pleasure of attending a recent iteration which featured beers by Beau’s All Natural Brewery paired with the culinary creations of Craft’s Chef Cam McGowan. 76 attendees sold out the event and kept the mezzanine cozy.

A beer set the mood while introductory talks from Craft’s sharply-dressed David Girdharry greeted the guests. The hosts admitted they were happily surprised with the response and number of seats filled. Beau’s brewer Matt O’Hara was next to rock the mic and provided tasting notes for the first beers served. The Beau’s team wandered tables during the early courses, to answer questions about the beer.

Photo by Jordan Duff.

Photo by Jordan Duff.

For the main course, Chef Cam McGowan joined us to explain how the pairing process worked, as well as the inspiration for the delicious spread being served. The winning course, at my table, was a fantastic surprise: Brussel sprout and beef neck salad. Not what I expected from off cuts and Brussel sprouts!

Photo by Jordan Duff.

Chili and pineapple braised turkey wings. Photo by Jordan Duff.

McGowan’s work to layout this epic meal starts with research (the fun kind):

When we write our menus we put a bit of background research into the beer before we try it. The style, that style’s country of origin, the types of ingredients as well as their origins. After we sample the beers we look for our hook. Whether it’s something as straightforward as the flavour profile or something more abstract such as the feelings the beer inspires, we usually find a pretty sturdy starting point.

Ultimately, beer and food pairing for me is about having fun with it. We can all read about what certain foods work with certain beers but I’ve found it never works so well as when you just try to have fun and share your ideas with your guests.

Before dessert hit the table and the crowd – now fast-friends with their table-mates – became overly raucous, a Beau’s gift basket was raffled to one of the attendees. Guests were even provided with a loot bag of Beau’s swag.

FYI: the next Belgian beer Brewmaster’s Dinner will raffle off a trip for two to Belgium – not bad.

The winning formula of multi-beer and multi-course meals will continue in the upcoming Brewmaster’s Dinners with a new menu each month. Upcoming Craft Beer Market events include: