Cooking with Beer-Potato, Bacon & Ale Soup

137448092-590x590In light of the minus thirty degree weather here in Calgary, warm up with this delicious potato bacon and ale soup recipe by Wellington Gastropub chef and part owner, Christopher Deraiche.

1 cup double-smoked bacon, 1/2 medium onion, peeled and medium diced, 1/2 leek (white part only) washed and sliced, 1/2 bulb of garlic peeled and chopped, 4 potatoes peeled and diced (large), 4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, 2 cups ale,    2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves, pinch of grated nutmeg, salt & pepper to taste

In a large soup pot over medium heat, render bacon about 5 minutes. Add onion, leek and garlic, and sweat them 3 to 4 minutes.

Add potatoes, stock, ale, thyme and nutmeg. There should be enough liquid to cover vegetables by about 2 inches (5 cm). If not, add more stock.

Bring to a simmer and cook, uncovered, about 20 minutes. Working in batches, puree soup in a blender and pass through a sieve.

– Note: For thinner soup, add more stock or beer. Serves 6.

I enjoyed this one with a glass of Beau’s ‘Farm Table’ Belgian Pale Ale.  Check out Wellington Gastropub craft beer menu here.  Whip this one up at home or stop into the Wellington Gastropub the next time you’re in Ottawa.






Beer Gear-My Pick for the Week

beermittHello everyone, and a very special hello to all of my followers!  I am excited about the first post of my Beer Gear, Gadgets & Glassware series.  logo

To finish off the end of another weekend, I’d like to share with you beer gear that I received as a recent gift.  Check out the Skuuzi beer mitt!  It is a knitted mitt and beer holder in one; great for sipping on a beer in the great outdoors, and is sure to keep your mitts warm and your beer cold.

Check out Skuuzi online to order yours today!


Bayside Brewing Co.-Erieau, Ontario’s first brew pub

CallBox1-316x120The small fishing village of Erieau, Ontario, known for its boating and vacationing has made a name for itself in the world of micro brewing.  Erieau’s livelihood is fishing and tourism, and until July 2012 it was missing just one thing; a local brewery right smack dab on the bay.  Bayside Brewing Co. has the locals singing its praises and has contributed a great deal to this scenic and laid back village.

baysideThe brewery is housed in the historical former locale, Tilt ‘N’ Hilt ‘N’ Hotel, which was known to villagers as a place to gather with friends for a cold beer.  This legendary venue was stripped of its many layers of paint and fully renovated to its current state which is a modern and cozy cabin- like brew pub on the bay.  With the birth of Bayside Brewing Co. has come the creation of Long Pond Lager and their delicious fire wood pizza to pair.  I popped into Bayside when I went back home to Ontario before the holidays and had my first sip of this refreshing lager.  The brew has a hint of crisp apple notes and with one sip I could tell that it’s the ideal thirst quencher for the hot summer heat.

If you find yourself in the Erieau area, be sure to drop in for a visit and try their brew while getting lost in conversation with the very friendly locals .


Cooking with Beer-German Style Beer Fondue

Happy Sunday everyone!  If you’re looking for a fairly effortless and delicious meal for dinner this evening, this German Style Beer Fondue recipe is just perfect and takes very little time.  It’s creamy and pairs perfectly with a pilsner or hefeweizen beer.


German Style Beer Fondue:

2 cloves of garlic, 3/4 tsp caraway seeds, 2 cups pilsner beer, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp lemon juice, 1/4 tsp sugar, 1 lb cooked turkey or bison sausage cut into slices, 4 cups shredded gruyere cheese, 2 tbsp flour, 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce, 1tbsp whole grain mustard, loaf rye & sourdough bread cut into chunks, salt, pepper.

Rub saucepan with garlic and butter.  Add caraway seeds, toast over medium 2 min.  Pour beer into pot and stir.  Add lemon juice, sugar, boil.  Add sausage, simmer 10 min. Remove sausage, leave beer mixture on low.  In bowl toss cheese, flour, whisk in beer mix, until it melts.  Whisk Worcestershire sauce, mustard, seasoning.  Transfer to fondue pot.  Serve with sausage and bread and a cold glass of Ayinger Premium Pils or Ayinger Ur Weisse Hefeweizen.


Canadian Winter Warmers

A winter warmer brew to me is a strong and dark brew with bold coffee and cocoa notes. These brews are meant to be sipped and savoured and present beautifully in a snifter, “Bolleke’ Goblet or even just a wine glass. I was fortunate over these past holidays to try some delicious craft winter warmers from breweries in Ontario.

beer-cranberry-lgMy 2012 holidays kicked off in Ontario where I had the opportunity to try some new brews for the very first time, and visit some local breweries that absolutely blew me away with their latest creations! After a busy week of holiday parties in Calgary and a long day of traveling from YYC to YYZ I was in search for a rich brew to sit down and relax with. I discovered a seasonal brew, Winter Beard by Muskoka brewery. This limited edition strong stout (8.0%) is full of chocolate and cranberry notes from real local cranberries and dark chocolate, and warms you like a thick a blanket. Curl up and share this one, but be sure to serve cool and not cold to truly appreciate all the lovely warming notes it has to offer.


My next liquid discoveries over the holidays were both from breweries based in Windsor, Ontario. Walkerville Brewery, a microbrewery in the distillery district of Olde Walkerville has a history dating back to the late 1800’s. After new ownership in 2012, and the brewery’s rebranding and relaunch in the summer of 2012, the development of some new creations have caught the taste buds of many locals, and former locals like myself. The brewery announced the launch of a new series of seasonal beers packaged in growlers, and the very first brew to be released in the new packaging was a Roasted Chestnut Brown Ale, which was perfect for the holidays. I visited the brewery and was able to meet co-owner, Chris Ryan who expressed how proud he was about the beer and that the featured artwork on the label was done by Windsor artist Marc Lacourciere. The nuttiness from real roasted chestnuts really came through as it warmed up slightly to room temperature. This malty and rich brew was perfect for the holiday occasion with subtle spice notes. After trying this one for the first time, I cannot wait until their next limited creation is released!

motorOnto my next discovery, and what better to pair with a glass of craft beer than a homemade burger! Burger joint, Motor Burgers & nano brewery Motor Craft Ales in Windsor, Ontario was serving up their seasonal Santa Sleigh Candy Cane Porter which I absolutely loved and paired wonderfully with their Lamb-orghini burger. The brew was decadent with generous cocoa notes and just a smidge of mint in the finish. I appreciated their added touch of hooking a mini candy cane on the edge of the glass. Partner of Motor Burger & Motor Craft Ales, Gino Gesuale took me into their very small brewing area of the restaurant where I was amazed to see and hear how dedicated and passionate they are about crafting some unique and authentic craft brews. Gino expressed his love for craft beer and how important using real ingredients is in the brewing process is. Windsor, Ontario seems to have caught onto the craft beer movement and with recent breaking news of a beer festival to take place in October, 2013, I do believe that this city is just getting warmed up!

I was impressed by the craft beer scene during my trip back home to Ontario, and to finally come across heavier and rich winter warmers, rather than the light bubbly lagers that seemed to be most prevalent in the province. No cold winter is quite complete without these dark craft ales, and I look forward to visiting these breweries in the summer to see what else they have in store!


Big Rock Helles Bock Launch A Success!

The crowd was scary and sexy at the devilish themed launch of Big Rock Helles Bock. Fire breathers, glass walkers, and the band Cowpuncher rocking some great tunes were exciting and steamy, but this new beer was smokin’! Last night marked the official launch of the most recent beer as part of the Brewmaster Edition Series of limited edition brews. Brewer, Paul Gautreau was inspired by Germany in his new creation, and with this strong triple malt lager coming in at 6.66% it is truly balanced; beautifully amber in colour, delicately sweet and with gentle nips from the Hallertau hops.

The Big Rock Helles Bock is currently available in Calgary in six packs, and will soon be on taps at pubs across the city. Stay tuned, but in the mean time go grab yourself some for the weekend and enjoy!




Welcome to Megs Beer Banter!

Calgary’s beer girl and creator of Meg’s Beer Banter, Meaghan O’Brien is a beer enthusiast, consultant & writer for Culinaire Magazine. She has a passion for craft beer and sharing her passion and knowledge with others. She believes that beer tells a story and that with so many good quality craft beers emerging all over the world, there are many stories to be told. The world of beer is endless and is incredibly flexible when pairing with food. A good beer should be savoured and enjoyed until the very last drop. Her favourite beer is Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock.