On Sunday, Nov. 23, I was lucky enough to grab a seat with my friend to attend McQuade Distributing Holiday Sweet Cheers! This was a woman only event pairing winter beers with desserts. The focus of these events is to show women how to pair beer with food. Doing this shows us what goes well together and it also highlights the beer.
Many people think women don’t like beer. In my personal experience, the women I know are much more open to trying new beers than the men I know. If women think they “don’t like” beer, a class like this is excellent for them to attend. Pairing beer and food is just like pairing wine and food – you will experience new tastes for both the beer and the food that you might not have noticed before. The event was held at McQuade’s in their lovely conference room area – it is so nice. I’d love to have a party there. I also attended a food/beer tasting there in June and was equally excited for this pairing. The events fill up quickly and Shannon (who hosted us and educated us) commented on future events they may offer two sessions to accommodate the growing interest. The event was $15 with proceeds going to the local Open Your Heart campaign to distribute goods to those in need at Christmastime.
Side note – I think most of us local people are really familiar with McQuade’s and their annual softball tourney but they are doing events certainly monthly, if not weekly, that aren’t “as big” or well-known to benefit charities in the Bismarck-Mandan area. I think it is just very commendable and while they don’t toot their own horn, I certainly will for them. Shannon is super funny and I love her sense of humor. I am sure working in an industry with mostly men she gained her quick wit. I’d love to throw back a few drinks with her. I follow McQuade’s on Facebook and with all of their events she must be so busy – they always have something fun going on in Bismarck-Mandan.
Cheers! This photo is taken from McQuade’s Facebook page.
Anyway, Shannon welcomed us and also reminded us that if people didn’t feel comfortable driving after the event they would arrange a taxi ride for us. We did taste 6 beers with food and I was fine to drive the hour+ home to Hazen after the event. She had two male assistants who did a fine job if serving us the food and beer. As we entered, we were served a Ciderboys Grand Mimosa. OK ladies and gents, this beer is amazing. I don’t always care for cider beer since it is fairly sweet and usually very apple like. This beer mixes apples with oranges and as it is called, tastes like a Mimosa. This would make a perfect brunch drink or morning after cocktail. For cider lovers, Ciderboy (also known as Steven’s Point Brewery from Wisconsin) has a ton of flavors.
For the rest of the pairings, I’ll include my photo and a few bullet points. I realize not everyone loves beer education like me, but I do think it is worth a quick read.
I liked the card they provided telling a little about each beer.
Alaskan Winter Ale with almond pound cake
- English Olde Ale beer
- Aroma of spruce tips with a noble hop finish
- Malty and rich
- You can tone down the hopiness by pairing in with the pound cake or it would great with a hearty stew
- The beer with the cake makes the beer seem really creamy
Shock Top Shockolate Wheat with mixed salted nuts and chocolate covered pretzels
- Wheat beer with chocolate, caramel and black malts
- Aged with vanilla and cocoa beans
- The beer itself tastes dessert-like, so pairing it with salty food really tones down the sweetness
Goose Island Festivity Ale with Ferrero Rocher truffle and lace cookie
- American Brown Ale
- Hazy and umber in hue
- Cream-colored head
- Dark malt, toasted bread and toffee aroma
- Dark rye bread, herbal hops, cocoa and dark fruit flavor
- This was personally probably my least favorite pairing (love the dessert though!)
- I didn’t care for the herbal hops in this but enjoyed the experience
New Belgium Accumulation with cheesecake
- White IPA, pours white gold with a snowy head
- Tropical aromas
- Bitter bite with soft fruit flavor of peaches and citrus
- This in combination with the cheesecake left a super creamy feel in your mouth
- If you don’t care for IPAs, try this combo
- Pair with Mexican food
- New Belgium (based in Colorado) has an excellent website with several food pairing recommendations
- Shannon mentioned Lauren Salazar (New Belgium’s wood cellar manager) as a person of interest so I plan to read more about her
Southern Tier Crème Brulee with strawberries and brownies
- We were assured in advance that most ladies would approve of this beer
- Imperial Milk Stout
- Caramelized sugar, vanilla and custard
- Sweet and balance, rich and milky mouthfeel
- 9.5% ABV – wowza
- Some preferred the beer with just the berries to balance out the sweetness of the beer
- The beer really does taste like Crème Brulee – a perfect dessert drink to end a meal
Affligem Triple with coconut cake pop
- Belgian style beer
- Bright amber with a firm, creamy head
- Baked bread, banana and citrus fruit aroma
- Hops taste of light pepper and citrus
- Medium body with hoppy finish
- 9% ABV
- Blonde (or single), Double, Triple and then Quad go from least ABV (being the blonde) to most alcohol being the quad
Final notes from the event (^^ look at all that lovely, sweet food! Photo from McQuade’s Facebook page)
- Many of the beer websites will suggest food pairings if you ever want to hold you own beer tasting
- Glassware and temperature matters for beer – be sure to serve in the correct glass and at the correct temperature
- Head – most beers should have a head (cider beers are an exception) when poured
- Just be open to trying new things – you might surprise yourself
- Bud Light first distributed in: 1982; Budweiser in: 1876
- This would be fun to hold your own beer tasting/food pairing event with your friends – I’m going to attempt this in a few weeks actually
- I’m going to check out Cash Wise liquors in Bismarck – a person who worked there was at the class and it sounds like they have a good selection of beer. I am not usually on that side of town, but will travel for beer most certainly!
I highly encourage you to follow McQuade’s on Facebook. They have a ton of events and every one I have been to has been top notch! Mmmmm, beer!