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Tipple Tuesdays – Barley Wine and Charcuterie

Today begins a new feature on Guilty Kitchen, which Adrian and I have been working on for a few weeks. Well, let’s be honest, since we turned the legal drinking age and could muster a not yet inebriated effort to eat something with our beer. Now that we have kids though, and we only have one drink with our weeknight meals, it’s gotten a lot more important that we absolutely love that beer, or cocktail, or wine.

So without further ado, welcome to Tipple Tuesdays with Adrian!

Elizabeth and I have all sorts of discussions about Guilty Kitchen. “What should we write about?” being the main discussion. After talking about it for far too long we’re finally kicking off Tipple Tuesdays. It will be a pairing of food with some kind of libation of the liquid variety.

Some things you can come to expect from Tipple Tuesdays:

  • Beer and food pairings
  • Cocktails and food
  • Wine and food
  • Did I mention beer?… Oh! and lets not forget food!

I hope you are sensing the pattern here. This week I wanted to jump into the Christmas drinking early. I actually had a lager post I was writing up until Liz slapped me upside the head with a 650ml bottle of Granville Island Brewing Imperial Chocolate Stout. She was then heard to exclaim, “IT’S CHRISTMAS! People don’t need to hear about lager…”

How could I be so stupid? Trying to teach a lesson about lager during the busiest drinking month of the year! So we set off on a journey to pick our next beer. After going to three different stores in town looking for what I really had my eyes set on, we found it! In a little hole in the wall liquor store in a small strip mall in a rural part of Victoria. $6.09 later we walked out with a bottle of Phillips Trainwreck Barley Wine. 10% ABV of pure beer enjoyment. I was ecstatic. Considering we had already bought the food pairings to go with this particular beer, let’s just say we were more than a little cheerful.

But what, pray tell, did we pair with our barley wine? Well, before we get into that I should describe what a barley wine is. Barley wine is simply a beer that has an alochol content of between 8% and 12%. The strength of wine, but since it isn’t made with fruit (grapes) but grain (barley) it is actually a beer.

Barley wines are generally bold malty flavours that are quite strong. However, if left to age (sometimes for years), these flavours can mellow out into a very alluring concoction. It is a truly complex brew worth savouring on its own (sans food). As a final note I would recommend serving a barley wine at cellar temperature. (12-14C or 53-58F)

Phillips Trainwreck Barley Wine:

Name: Trainwreck
Brewery: Phillips Brewing
Tasting Notes: Sour nose. Earthy to start with sweet caramel notes and a  pleasant slightly sour taste. Lightly carbonated. Nice bitter bite at the finish.
Adrian’s Rating: 4.5/5 – I really enjoy a loud beer and this was mellow but packed a wallop.
Elizabeth’s Rating: 4/5 I love the caramel notes and strong flavour of this beer. I give it a four instead of a five simply because it is so strong. When you are used to drinking a couple of beers, this one will shock you in that you may not feel like having more than one.

What to Pair with Barley Wine:

Barley wine, being such a strong bold flavour is a bit difficult to pair with your every day food (simply because it’s not your every day beer). When we decided on barley wine, my first thought went to bold, but not overly filling flavours. Charcuterie. Cheese. Nuts. Olives. I was heading towards a simple Mediterranean tapas platter, my all time favourite meal. I could eat it every day of my life. It’s so simple to make and you can change the meats, cheese, nuts and olives for any other variety of the same. For this particular pairing, we decided to go with some strong flavours. For our cheese we chose Pont L’eveque and Qualicum Cheeseworks Brie. The Brie was just because we had it, but it did pair well. The Pont l’Eveque is a slightly pungent French cheese from the Normandy region and is similar in it’s style to Brie. We paired these cheese with a duck salami and a bison Bresoala. And just for a little special note (cause I like to indulge once in a while), we had a slice of foie gras mousse with black truffles. All these meats came from a great little delicatessen in Victoria called Choux Choux Charcuterie, probably one of my favourites in town. We also had a lovely fresh baguette from Fol Epi Bakery. It was lovely, satisfying and a perfect meal for the weekend. We also had little dishes of grainy Dijon, kalamata olives and salted, roasted nuts.

Final notes: Barley wine pairs well with most strong flavoured cheeses, especially blue. It also goes extremely well with dark chocolate, so maybe next time, we’ll eat dessert first.

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