The rain forecast never arrived. The crowds did… by the thousands, Beau’s re-usable beer steins in hands, green felt Bavarian hats on heads, and a jolly good time it was. Spread across the Vankleek Hill fairgrounds, Beau’s Oktoberfest 2015 seemed to me – from the few hours I enjoyed it on a sold-out Saturday afternoon – a smashing success.
I was there for the “School of Bock,” to help crowd-judge the best one-off beer team challenge. It paired one Beau’s brewer with one label artist – four teams of two, four beers, four labels, and much spirited debate. In the end, the winning beers, by a democratic show of hands in a crowded hall, were the Baltic style porter ‘One Ping Only,’ and the Medieval-era ale with a large bouquet of medieval aromatics, called ‘Return of the Mumme’. It was my favourite – it tasted like Christmas.
Following the beer team challenge, a food challenge. Beau’s Brewery chef Bruce Woods took the Beau’s Oktoberfest Mix Pack and paired each of the four beers in it with four plates of food. The most striking combination for our group was the Bog Hopper – a hoppy amber-coloured wheat beer – matched with a Vietnamese style meatball (pork, shrimp, ginger, garlic, fish sauce, cilantro, chiles) that had, in turn, its own kind of symbiosis. The pork in the ball comes from the Pickle Patch Farm. Aartje den Boer’s heritage Tamworth pigs are raised on organic feed laced with Beau’s Brewery spent grain. They spend their days rooting around, and then show up (thank you) in a meatball paired with beer in which they have been somewhat marinating all their lives.
The day ended with gingerbread. A mini-muffin round of gingerbread with a salted chocolate caramel sauce (the salt from Vancouver Island Salt Co.) (visaltco.com). It was paired with the pumpkin wheat beer called Weiss O’Lantern, a pale, zippy beer spiced up with ginger, cinnamon and orange peel.
Dozens and dozens of yellow school buses brought us home.
Beau’s All Natural Brewing Company, 10 Terry Fox Drive, Vankleek Hill 613-678-2799
First published in DesBrisay Dines for Ottawa Magazine