Ensemble Tap have started doing a monthly bier-paired dinner featuring some fantastic dishes specifically created to pair with biers from a featured local brewery. The dinner in March was with Howe Sound Brewery.
The first dish served was Citrus Poached Prawns, with Daikon Radish, Carrot, Pea Shoots, Asian Dressing.
The accompanying bier was Howe Sound Whitecap Wheat Ale.
The bier was pale yellow/amber with a slight haze and a good pale head. Aroma was peach, wheat, citrus, cream. Light on the palate, short finish with a nice crispness. Taste is citrus peel, wheat. Nice crisp and tangy beer that makes a good nod to the Belgian wit beers that inspired it.
The dish had a fantastic citrus burst to it that complimented both the prawns and the bier. In fact every taste element of the dish paired well with flavours from the beer.
The second dish was Sweet and Sour Eggplant, with Tomato Leafs, Ras el Hanout Rita, Cilantro and Mint.
This was accompanied by Howe Sound Total Eclipse of the Hop.
The bier is cloudy rusty amber with a reasonable pale head that leaves behind a slight lacing. Aroma is northwest hops, fresh cut grass, touch of pine and a hint of caramel, good overall floral note. Good body, reasonable balance between malt and hoppy bitterness – the hops are not an overwhelming sock in the mouth with pine and spruce, whilst still being noticeable and finishing with a crisp bitterness. Taste is quince, grapefruit, caramel, malt and pine. One of the best IIPA’s I have tried.
Fairly good pairing, the food was fairly sweet which complimented the maltiness of the bier, but brought out the bitterness a little too much for my liking.
The third course was the best of the night - Braised Lamb Stew with Pearl Onions, Mushrooms, Lardons, Puff Pastry.
This was accompanied by Howe Sound Diamond Head Oatmeal Stout.
The bier is solid black with a good sized beige head that leaves behind a nice lacing. Aroma is mushroom, wet straw, grain. Creamy mouthfeel, good body, very well balanced, smooth finish. Taste is smoke, licorice, soy sauce, oatmeal. A very enjoyable beer.
The lamb stew was simply amazing – one of the tastiest dishes I have had! It paired extremely well with the bier, bringing the oatmeal to the front.
The final course, dessert, was Rum Baba.
To bier with dessert was Howe Sound Baldwin and Cooper Best Bitter.
This bier is a clear copper with a small pale head. Aroma is honey, raisin, plum, date, toffee, grape. reasonably light on the palate, well balanced with a bitter finish. Taste is raisin, date, caramel and burnt toast.
The dessert was delicious and sweet, which managed to mellow out the bitter finish of the bier and bring out more of the bier’s the fruitiness.
Summary: An excellent evening which showcased some great biers from Howe Sound, paired perfectly with some amazing dishes from Ensemble Tap chefs Brad Hendrickson and Dale MacKay.