By Wayne MacPhail
When most people think about pairing holiday foods with drinks, their minds turn to wine. Not Ryan Barach, a beer expert at Collective Arts Brewing in Hamilton, Ontario. Barath puts together the ideal pint with the perfect comestible for entertaining. From a salty wheat beer to hoppy IPA, stout or chocolatey porter, he is the Tinder of food and drink. Barath says there are two ways to go with beer/food unions, either opposing (like wheat beer and a creamy brie) or a head-on flavour cage match between the beefy richness of a porter against a bitter chocolate. Either way, a beer-food pairing party might be a great way to start your holiday entertaining on a novel note. Consider, for example, a range of cheeses -- aged cheddar, asiago, Stilton -- and serve a careful selection of beers along the flavour spectrum in small glasses. Let guests compare notes as they pair one with the other. Wait for the most unusual pairing to explode with unexpected tastes and aromas. It's a great way to say hoppy holidays to your mouth.
Thanks to Jantzi Cheese on the Hamilton Farmers Market for the sage cheese advice.