As the global pandemic stretches into its fourth month, I have been cooped up in my home office, toiling away in isolation, without the friendly banter around the water cooler, and my only human contact via video conferences with my regular group of drinking companions.
Fortunately, our local craft brewers at the Township 24 Brewery on Rainbow Road have been keeping me well stocked during the pandemic with delicious brews delivered straight to my door. As the restrictions have slowly lifted, our local watering holes are starting to reopen, and I have cautiously ventured out to make socially distanced visits to the new and exciting patio at Township 24 Brewery, as well as a slightly longer trek over to the Origin Malting & Brewing patio in Strathmore.
Not all of my regular drinking companions are quite ready to venture out yet, so I put together a video conference in honour of National Chicken Wing Day, and provided a beer pairing list for different wing flavours for an online wings and beer night.
What’s that? You didn’t know there was a National Chicken Wing Day every July? Or that pairing wings and beer is a time-honoured tradition that I was not about to allow a little pandemic to put a damper on? Then read on to plan your own wing and beer pairing!
Whenever you are pairing food with beer, wine, or spirits, the basic strategy is match the flavour intensity of the food with the booze.
Salt & pepper wings pair nicely with the Township 24 Stolen Canoe Pale Ale, with the citrusy hop aroma and the middling hop bitterness cutting the salty flavours of the wings, and the crisp hints of tropical grapefruit on the finish kept me reaching for more wings.
The tangy flavour of BBQ wings calls for roasted malts, and the Black IPA from Origin Malting & Brewing in Strathmore fit the bill. This brew is made in the relatively new Cascadian Dark Ale style, which has only been around for about a decade. With its roots in the Pacific Northwest, this beer style uses west coast hops with loads of pine resin and citrus notes, and the tangy BBQ wings paired nicely with the rich backbone from roasted and caramelized malts. For many years, the only options for this beer style were imports from BC brewers, so I was delighted when Origin Malting & Brewing opened in Strathmore back in 2017, and made this one of their flagship brews.
One of my wing night companions, who was safely ensconced in his own backyard with his own take-out order, commented over the video conference that his honey garlic wings paired perfectly with the Range 28 Blonde Ale. This is one of the easy-drinking options from Township 24, popular with the recovering macrobrew crowd, with a smooth finish and only a slight bitterness. The mild flavour of the honey garlic wings needs a mild beer, and these went together perfectly.
My favourite pairing was the Township 24 Left of the Lake Kveik with an order of Frank’s Red Hot wings. The Kveik beer style is this a new runaway hit, and is from an centuries-old strain of Norwegian yeast that has been traditionally used for farmhouse ales in the Nordic countries.
The Kveik yeast made its way to North America a few years ago, and craft brewers have been enthusiastically putting their own modern spin on this ancient yeast. The Kveik yeast is very hardy, fermenting at high temperatures that would kill most beer yeasts, and impart notes of lemon-lime to the brew, making it a natural choice for the hazy and juicy New England Pale Ale style that is taking the craft beer world by storm.
The Left of the Lake Kveik is made in the hazy NEPA style, bursting with juicy notes, and the bitter hop backbone matched the Frank’s Red Hot wings so well that I was glad to have ordered so many take-out wings.
With nearly as many flavours of wings as there are styles of beer, do a little experimenting to find your perfect match. Our local restaurants and beer merchants need your support in these difficult times, so venture out for a socially distanced dining experience, or opt for take-out to enjoy in the safety of your own home!