Category Archives: Beer Pairings

Vermicelli Salad & Nickel Brook Raspberry Über Berliner Weisse

Adapted from The Toronto Star

When I completed Level II of my Prud’homme Beer training a few years ago I was certified a Beer Specialist, which is a pretty useful designation if you know what to do with it.

My investment in beer education paid me back many times over with writing jobs and opportunities to educate clients about beer. It gave me a measure of credibility when I started RunTOBeer. Most importantly it taught me a whole lot about what’s happening in Ontario’s industry and connected me in a way online training could never do.

But Level III (certified Beer Sommelier) always sat just out of reach, somewhat teasingly. I didn’t register for Prud’homme planning NOT to finish all three levels, but the final course (at the time – a fourth level has since been added) placed plenty of weight on food and beer pairings, with a particular focus on cheese.

As a vegan, that complicated things for me. The beer world still generally dismisses plant-based diets, even though vegan cuisine is evolving quickly with plenty of experimentation producing outstanding results. Much like beer itself, increasingly focused on flavour and innovation, vegan cuisine is now far more appealing to a broader audience.

Vegan cheese is not only much more widely available, but flavours and textures have improved dramatically. If cheese is going to be my biggest obstacle to completing Prud’homme, it’s no longer insurmountable.

So I’ve registered to start Level III in October.

Now, with that on the horizon, it’s time to re-commit to blogging with a greater focus on beer and food pairings.

I’m starting with vermicelli salad because it’s been my favourite recipe lately. It’s so simple to make, uses easy-to-obtain ingredients and requires almost no clean-up. It’s brilliant as a meal for one or as a starter before the main course.

I paired it with Nickel Brook‘s outstanding Raspberry Über Berliner Weisse, the fruity tartness of which sits nicely with salad’s sweet chili sauce. The beer’s light, effervescent body is a very nice companion to the freshness of the vegetables.

2016-11-15-14-21-48Vermicelli Salad


About 15 minutes.

20160909_172150Stage 1 – Dry vermicelli noodles.  Just cover with hot water and wait for them to get soft.


Stage 1

1 handful dry, thin rice noodles (vermicelli)

Stage 2

1 tsp olive oil

1 cup smoked tofu

1 handful chopped green beans

Stage 3

1/4 cup grated carrot

Sweet chili sauce, to taste

Stage 4

8 – 10 cherry or grape tomatoes, halved

1 avocado, sliced

Fresh mint leaves

Smoked tofu, tomoatoes, fresh mint, green beans, grated carrots and avocado.


  1. Place uncooked vermicelli noodles into a large, heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Stir occasionally, until soft.
  2. In a non-stick pan (I use a wok), heat Stage 2 ingredients (oil, green beans and smoked tofu) until the beans begin to brown.
  3. Strain vermicelli noodles and add to a large salad bowl. Add green beans and smoked tofu.
  4. Stir in Stage 3‘s grated carrot and enough sweet chili sauce to achieve your desired flavour.
  5. Top with Stage 4 ingredients (halved tomatoes, avocado, fresh mint leaves
  6. Serve with Nickel Brook Brewery’s Raspberry Über Berliner style Weisse.




3 Bean Salad & Goose IPA

People who know things recommend you get protein in your system shortly after finishing a long run. They say it helps rebuild the muscles you’ve just torn down, which speeds up your recovery.

Beer not only has protein, but also chromium (important for distance runners and hard to come by in a non-supplement form), sodium, magnesium, calcium and carbs. This makes it a far better post-workout drink than water.

The nice thing about Goose Island’s Goose IPA is it also pairs brilliantly with this protein-, iron- and fibre-rich, three bean salad. Each has citrus, pepper and fresh, earthy characteristics. Together, it’s an easy, delicious combo that just feels right after a satisfying workout.

Bean salad stays good in the fridge for a few days, so make it in advance. After toweling the sweat out of your eyes and uploading your run stats, fill a bowl, crack open the beer and just feel great for a while.

My version is ever-so-slightly adapted from OhSheGlows’ Speedy Three Bean Salad.

Three Bean Salad with Goose IPA
Three Bean Salad with Goose IPA


About 15 minutes prep.

About 4 hours before eating.


Stage 1

handful of green beans, chopped, with the ends removed

19oz can of chickpeas, strained

19oz can of red kidney beans, strained

Stage 2 (The Dressing)

8 tablespoons lemon juice

1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

generous amounts of black pepper

Stage 3

1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeño, chopped fine

2 green onions, chopped coarse

Stage 4

fresh parsley, chopped fine


1 stalk of celery, chopped

2 radishes, sliced thin

Three kinds of beans
Stage 1 – Three kinds of beans
  1. Add green beans to a pot of simmering water and leave them until they’re no longer crisp — likely about 10 minutes (if you like your chickpeas and kidney beans a bit mushy, you can do the same for them).
  2. Mix all the Stage 2 ingredients (lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, maple syrup, mustard, pepper) in a bowl until it has a vinegrette-like consistency.
  3. When the beans are to your liking, strain and put them in a big bowl.
  4. Add Stage 3 ingredients (bell pepper, jalapeño, green onion) – and optional ingredients, if you so desire – to the beans.
  5. Add dressing, and stir.
  6. Cover, and let sit a couple hours in the fridge.
  7. Stir again and throw the covered salad back in the fridge for a couple more hours.
  8. Add parsley.
The Dressing
Stage 2 – The Dressing
Red Bell Pepper, Green Onion, Jalapeño
Stage 3 – Red Bell Pepper, Green Onion, Jalapeño

HINT: It’s best (but not necessary) to leave the parsley until you’re ready to eat. I just chop as much as I need when I dish out my individual servings.


Goose Island Goose IPA
Goose Island Goose IPA

Availability: LCBO, The Beer Store and pubs where Labatt has some influence

Special Notes: This beer uses 2- and 6-row malt, and has won a tonne of awards in the English style IPA category, in major competitions.

Stats: 5.9% ABV, 55 IBUs

Vegan Mac’n’Cheese with Niagara Oast House Saison

If you live in Southern Ontario, you’ve probably noticed Mother Nature has taken a cue from the Toronto Maple Leafs and stopped caring. February and March were miserable. Spring looks bleak…

Times like these require comfort food and beer!

A big ol’ casserole dish of vegan mac’n’cheese is ideal, because it’s great out of the oven and just as tasty reheated. It’s as satisfying at lunch as at the end of a night out.

Like many of my recipes, I make mine spicier than others might enjoy. If you want a bit less heat, try subbing out the cayenne and chopped serrano pepper for cracked black pepper and green onion.

I’m enjoying mine with a Niagara Oast House Saison (7.0%). This beautiful beer’s earthiness and peppery bite are a stellar complement to the cheddar-like flavour of the mac’n’cheese.

Did I mention how great this is reheated?
Did I mention how great this is reheated?

About 30 minutes, start to finish


Stage 1

1/2 bag (450 grams) of macaroni

Stage 2

1/3 package (about 125 grams) of firm or extra firm tofu, cut into cubes

3/4 cup nutritional yeast

1/2 tablespoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon of miso paste

1 teaspoon of dijon mustard

Stage 3

1/2 cup olive oil

3/4 cup of plain, unsweetened cashew milk

1/2 cup of water

1/6 cup soya sauce



serrano or jalapeño pepper, chopped

cayenne pepper


green onion, chopped

black pepper

Nutritional Yeast, tastes like nutty cheddar flakes
Nutritional Yeast, tastes like nutty cheddar flakes
  1. Preheat oven to 375°F
  2. Boil pasta until soft. While that’s happening you should have time to prepare the rest.
  3. Throw all the ingredients from Stage 2 in a blender. Don’t start it yet.
  4. Combine all the Stage 3 ingredients (the liquids) in a large measuring cup. It should come to just under 2 cups.
  5. When the pasta is done, strain it.
  6. Pour the Stage 3 (liquid) ingredients in with the Stage 2 (non-liquid) stuff and blend it up! Let it go for a while, so the contents become really creamy.
  7. While the blender’s doing its thing, move the pasta into a casserole dish and spread it around evenly.
  8. Cover the pasta with the sauce you’ve just made.
  9. Add optional ingredients to suit your taste.
  10. Bake for about 10-15 minutes (no lid required), stirring once.  I generally put it back in the oven for a few minutes on the “broil” setting to brown the top.
  11. It’s ready.
Macaroni in a strainer
Straining the macaroni
Macaroni about to go into the oven
Macaroni covered in vegan cheese sauce
Chopped serrano pepper
Chopped serrano pepper
Vegan Mac'n'Cheese, spiced up and ready to go in the oven
Vegan Mac’n’Cheese, spiced up and ready to go in the oven
Vegan Mac'n'Cheese, right out of the oven
Vegan Mac’n’Cheese, right out of the oven


Niagara Oast House Saison
Niagara Oast House Saison

Availability: LCBO (750 ml bottles) and at the brewery.

Notes: This farmhouse style is bottle conditioned (the aging date is stamped on the back) and pours beautifully, with a solid, generous head that disappears slowly and leaves a cloud of lacing as you drink.

ABV: 7.0% according to the bottle, but 6.5% if you trust the LCBO’s website.

  • I picked up some spicy sesame seeds (pictured below) at a Day Of The Dead festival. They’re sooooo good sprinkled over mac’n’cheese!
Spicy Sesame Seeds
If you can find ’em, grab ’em!

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings and Cameron’s Lager

I mentioned in my last recipe / beer pairing that I’m awfully fond of spicy food. I also really like when cooking doesn’t take a lot of effort. This healthy, vegan recipe is super easy.

I’ve been playing around with Buffalo Cauliflower Wings since last summer – pretty happy with where I’ve got it now.

You could simplify this further by choosing just one type of flour, but I find the combination of buckwheat and whole wheat makes the batter just gluey enough, without gumming up inside the cauliflower’s little pockets.

I downed this batch with a bottle (or two) of Cameron’s Lager (5.0%); a tasty, refreshing German Pilsner that washes away the heat from the Buffalo Sauce, so each bite has all the flavour of the one before.


About 25 minutes, start to finish


Stage 1

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup water

Stage 2

1 head of cauliflower

Stage 3

3/4 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Sauce

  • garlic salt
  • black pepper
Individual cauliflower florets
Individual cauliflower florets
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a cookie sheet with a non-stick silicone mat or parchment paper
  2. In a large bowl, mix Stage 1 ingredients (flour & water) until batter forms
  3. Break apart the cauliflower head into individual florets, and toss around in the batter until completely covered
  4. Let excess batter drip off, then place florets on the lined cookie sheet
  5. Place in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, flipping once so they cook evenly
  6. When the exterior is completely cooked, toss wings in Buffalo Sauce until completely covered
  7. Add optional ingredients, as desired
  8. Get your beer from the fridge and feast, dammit!
Cauliflower florets, tossed in buckwheat & whole wheat flour batter
Cauliflower florets, tossed in buckwheat & whole wheat flour batter
Battered florets, on a lined cookie sheet
Battered florets, on a lined cookie sheet
Battered and baked
Battered and baked
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings with Cameron's Lager
Buffalo Cauliflower Wings with Cameron’s Lager


Cameron's Lager
Cameron’s Lager

Availability: Beer Store, LCBO and Cameron’s Retail store in 341mL six-packs and 473mL tall boy cans.

Special Notes: This beer wins plenty of awards, including being crowned’s best German Pilsner in the world (2012).

ABV: 5.0%

Curried Chickpeas and Karma Citra

I love spicy food. Not just for the flavour, either. Dishes with more kick provide plenty of health advantages, including increased levels of serotonin, lower blood pressure and decreased inflammation. People who enjoy spices tend to put less stress on their minds and their bodies.

12 years ago I chose to become vegan and I won’t pretend it was always a tasty experience. Especially in the beginning, there was so little selection and what was available was pretty bland. Beer and spices were the saviour of many a tofu dish.

It’s much easier today (being a vegan in Toronto is dead simple… minus the “dead” part), but I still love what spices can do for food. And when a beer swings by and offers to help with the meal, even more stress melts away.

Today I’m sharing my own, very simple, healthy recipe for curried chickpeas, using no oil or butter (I really do like mine hot though… you might want to scale back on the chili peppers or cayenne).

It’s paired with Great Lakes Brewery‘s Karma Citra (6.6% ABV), which is my favourite American style IPA. This beer is remarkably refreshing and its strong citrus character goes particularly well with the lemon and the heat.

Curried Chickpeas and GLB Karma Citra, shared with Lord Ganesha
Curried Chickpeas and GLB Karma Citra, shared with Lord Ganesha

About 25 minutes, start to finish


Stage 1

19oz can of chickpeas

handful of spinach, chopped

Stage 2

1/8 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1/2 tablespoon curry powder

1/2 tablespoon cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon turmeric

3/4 teaspoon ground cumin

Stage 3

1 clove of garlic, chopped fine or pressed

1/4 cup chopped onion

green chili, chopped fine (as much as you can handle)


Frank’s Red Hot (as much as you feel like)

sour cream (vegan, in my case)

green onion, chopped

black pepper

The sauce, before the chickpeas are added
The sauce, with the ingredients from Stage 2
  1. Cook Stage 1 ingredients in a pot of hot water until spinach is stringy
  2. In a bowl, add the ingredients from Stage 2 (lemon juice, tomato paste, powdered spices) and stir until it’s a sauce of even consistency
  3. Add the ingredients from Stage 3 into the sauce and stir
  4. Strain the chickpeas and spinach, and combine them with the sauce.
  5. Continue to stir all ingredients together until the spinach and chickpeas are completely coated
  6. Add optional ingredients to suit your taste
Another version, with potato cooked into it.
Another version, with potato cooked into it.


  • Growing your own green onions in a windowsill is ridiculously simple. Google it.
Green onions, growing in my kitchen window
Green onions, growing in my kitchen window


GLB Karma Citra
GLB Karma Citra

Availability: LCBO (650 ml bottles), at the brewery and in better beer bars.

Special Notes: This beer won the 3rd annual Cask Days IPA Challenge back in 2011, and has been highly sought after by Ontario beer drinkers ever since.  This batch won’t be around much longer.

Stats: 6.6% ABV, 65 IBUs