Good beer has "good character"

Executive chef Dale MacKay finishes his Dungeness crab roll with a sprinkle of Mexican spice. Photo by Kerry Hall.

Moosehead Breweries celebrated their recently wrapped To All Things Made Well tour on Saturday with a free food and beer tasting.

The beer company, Canada's oldest independent brewery, sent a documentary film crew from New Brunswick to B.C. then back to Ontario during May and June to capture Canadian artisans who create quality products, like they themselves do. They are releasing the mini-documentaries on the Internet via their Moosehead Facebook page, along with opportunities for viewers to enter corresponding prize giveaways.

To illustrate the art of making things well, local executive chef Dale MacKay was on hand to whip up some of his gazpacho and Dungeness crab rolls to pair with the Moosehead lager. At his eTap restaurant, he regularly serves the cold tomato soup with poached prawns, topped with garlic, cucumber and Kalamata olive. The crab and daikon appetizer, garnished with pineapple and avocado, is served at his ensemble restaurant. MacKay said he likes how lagers are light and refreshing and go well with cilantro and Mexican spices.

MacKay hosts monthly beer dinners at eTap where he creates a new dish and teams it up with a particular beer to match or contrast the flavours. He finds the flavours of beer much bolder. 

"A good beer will have good character," he said. An Indian pale ale will have a hoppy bitterness while a stout will be sweeter.

MacKay also likes how craft beers are available in singles or a six pack so it's easy to try different sorts of beer. He agrees it can be more economical than wine, too. He said he's not a big drinker so he rarely finishes a bottle of wine at one time whereas he can drink a bottle of beer.

For those home chefs prepping a dish to go with their beer, MacKay recommends not overcomplicating the dish. Focus on good products, he said, and buy fresh whole spices and grind them at home.

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