Making the connection: Talking beer and food with Crystal Luxmore

Luxy

Crystal Luxmore is a Toronto-based beer writer whose work has appeared in The Toronto Star, Toronto Life, Chatelaine, The Walrus, The New York Times, CBC and msn.ca and she was the “Hopped Up” columnist for what was easily Toronto’s best weekly magazine, The Grid (RIP).

She’s also a Certified Cicerone and a Prud’homme Beer Sommelier.

Accordingly, it’s safe to say she knows a thing or two about beer. This month, as part of my ongoing efforts to explore the relationship between dining and beer, I chatted with Crystal via email about beer, food, and why beer isn’t afforded the same respect as wine–yet.

Ben Johnson: As a cicerone and prud’homme certified beer sommelier, do you put a lot of thought into beer and food pairings when you’re dining at home or eating out?

Crystal Luxmore: I do, but I don’t sweat it too much. At home, I see what’s in my beer and main fridge, and usually choose the best possible match from what’s already chilled once dinner is ready. At a restaurant, I do think about it, but sometimes I’m more interested in trying a new one-off than finding the perfect match for my burger. Luckily with beer, it’s so versatile and easy to pair that if you’ve got great food and a great pint, you’ll be satisfied.

BJ: I feel like once you start paying attention to what beers work with what foods, you can’t NOT pay attention. It’s like a new level of snobbery when I’m with friends. First it was, “oh don’t drink that.” Now if I say, “well don’t drink THAT with THAT” I feel like I’m going to get punched in the head.

CL: Yeah. I would punch you in the face if you told me that. Taste is subjective and everyone’s palate is different, so what you think is right, is right—but only for you. Continue reading “Making the connection: Talking beer and food with Crystal Luxmore”

The problematic relationship between small brewers and new restaurants

Siotap

Starting a restaurant is a risky and expensive endeavour. In Toronto especially where there is a plethora of great places to eat and a handful of new places opening (and closing) every week, it’s exceedingly difficult for new restaurants to set themselves apart from the crowd and even if a new restaurant manages some modicum of success, it’s likely that for the first little while their profit margins will be razor thin.

Accordingly, restaurateurs often look for places to cut costs and rely on innovative marketing techniques and partnerships to get themselves known. Many restaurants in Toronto start their businesses as pop- up shops or food trucks hoping to build a reputation for their food so that they might either save up the capital or seek backers for the larger financial investment required to start their own restaurants.

To anyone with any involvement in the craft beer industry, this story might sound fairly familiar. Continue reading “The problematic relationship between small brewers and new restaurants”

Bar Hop announces new “Hop Talk” series

Bar Hop bartender Matt Bod laughing at something hilarious I said
Bar Hop bartender Matt Bod laughing at something hilarious I said

Bar Hop, the craft beer destination that won the Golden Tap award in 2013 for the Best Bar for Draught Beer Selection in Ontario, has announced a new monthly event series.

Billed as “Hop Talk,” the series will be a mini tap takeover of sorts wherein a featured brewer will not only have five of their beers on tap, but will also be present to talk about the beer with customers.

The event will be free to attend and in addition to the standard 5oz sample portion sizes, the organizers have mercifully allowed patrons to also order an actual effing pint. Continue reading “Bar Hop announces new “Hop Talk” series”

High Octane Local Beers to Fight the Mid-Autumn Chill

With this bloody cold nip in the air, but still a couple months before the official start of Winter, we’ve entered a nasty, windy, often wet part of the year frequently devoid of sunshine, but without any of the charms that snow can bring.

Accordingly, it’s a time of year that’s best suited to a certain kind of beer with a hearty dose of that most comforting autumn ingredient–and I’m not talking about pumpkin.

No. I’m talking about my old friend alcohol. It’s cold and rainy out and it’s a time for comforting oneself with strong drink. So in the spirit of this drab season, here are some potent local offerings that just might serve as a welcome port in the storm.

Continue reading “High Octane Local Beers to Fight the Mid-Autumn Chill”

Indie Alehouse is Brewing Some Fantastic Beers

Jason Fisher had been dreaming of opening a brewpub for years. But his long, difficult struggle to get the Indie Alehouse open was finally coming to fruition and he was about to share his beer–recipes for some of which he had held onto for years–with the world.

Five minutes after finally getting a liquor licence and becoming legally entitled to pour the fruits of his labour for thirsty residents of the Junction, he opened the doors and welcomed a customer–a Junction resident–who told him how excited she was that the doors were finally open on the neighbourhood’s first brewpub. So she placed her order–for a glass of wine. Continue reading “Indie Alehouse is Brewing Some Fantastic Beers”