Nova Scotia has a long history of crafting beer, all the way back to the earliest days of European settlement. And lately, the province has enjoyed an explosion of craft beer. In October 2015, the second Atlantic Canadian Beer Awards took place with a total of 152 entries from four provinces in 16 different categories.
Concurrently, Ted Grant, manager of NSCC’s Culinary Arts and Tourism Management program, went to work on a beer pairing dinner. The Akerley campus’ restaurant, Fresh Twenty One, hosted the event in late November. It featured a five-course menu and a variety of local beers.
While drinking lager with fresh oysters and stout with a duck breast main didn’t sound too outrageous to an average beerlover, the idea of cleansing our palates with a witbier sorbet or washing down a chocolate pecan tart with a nut brown ale sounded unappetizing. Those turned out to be the two best pairings of the meal, though.
Cicerone Angeline MacLennan crafted the pairings. One of just three cicerones (the beer equivalent of a sommelier) in the province, MacLennan is trained in every aspect of beer from its ingredients and
brewing processes to pairing and serving.
NSCC students created the menu and MacLennan chose the best beers to go with them. This exciting mix included premium lagers, ales, stout, heffeweisse, and more.
Grant says hosting the event made sense for NSCC. “We want to give any opportunity we can for our students to learn within the scope of our hospitality programming and to be able to work with Angeline and have her communicate the knowledge she has to the students and the chefs around pairings and food was excellent,” says Grant. “It was exciting for our future restaurateurs and hoteliers to have this experience.”
Nova Scotian breweries are producing a wide variety of beers. “All the breweries have different products,” says MacLennan, “and that creates healthy competition. Everyone wants to make a better product than the next person, so it’s good for the beer scene overall. People are coming out with great quality products here in Nova Scotia.”
Between courses, MacLennan, who’s also a registered nurse, described the myriad health benefits of drinking beer in moderation, including its B vitamins, potassium, selenium, antioxidants, and fibre (one gram per bottle of stout) that lower cholesterol, improve heart health and diabetes. Meanwhile, attendees sniffed beer for banana notes or smokiness and tasted for sweetness or dryness.
Around the table, as the brewers and bloggers discussed the rare lambic style beer Propeller releases once a year, the hoppy, bitter notes of an IPA, and the venerated beer drinking traditions of Europe. “To see the progression of the local craft beer industry and to see people like Angeline who are as invested as she is as a professional in this industry, it’s pretty cool,” Grant says.