The rain forecasted for the day never arrived, but thankfully the crowds did… by the thousands, with Beau’s re-usable beer steins in hands and green felt Alpine Bavarian hats on heads.
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 and it tasted like Christmas.
Following the beer team challenge was a food-based one. 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, which was 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 that includes 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 in all their lives.
The day ended with gingerbread. It was presented as a mini-muffin round with a salted chocolate caramel sauce (the salt from Vancouver Island Salt Co.). 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