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Sure, you could just drink your suds and call it a day. But when so many local kitchens are exploring beer's potential as an ingredient, why stop there? Here are five of our favourite alternative ways to consume craft brew this summer.
Craft Brasserie IPA-glazed ribs
Liberty Village’s newest brew hall boasts a staggering 120 taps, with a beer sommelier helming the bar and all staffers trained in the finer points of beer appreciation. But in case you’re worried that the food might have been left as an afterthought: they butcher and smoke their ribs in house before treating them to a bath in Red Racer barbecue sauce. The dark, confit-like meat falls off the bone, with plenty of smoky bite to the sauce (though the jury’s out on whether any of that zing comes from the hops). The adjoining pile of tangerine-hued coleslaw is deceptively cooling before its own spices kick in – a nice surprise.
107 Atlantic, at Snooker, 416-535-2337, thecraftbrasserie.com
Indie Ale House Pork hock mac & cheese
If you’re not into the lake-of-soupy-cheese thing characterizing many restaurant macs (I’m lookin’ at you, Cadillac Lounge), Indie Ale House’s take is a festival of texture from the top all the way down. The meat lover’s version (there’s also a vegetarian-friendly cauliflower) starts with a broiled-cheddar crust, moves into a layer of herbed bread crumbs that add an unexpected visual hit of spring green and gives way to hunks and shreds of deeply flavoured pork twirled in with the cavatappi. At the bottom: a reserve of fragrant cheddar sauce that makes excellent, liberal use of the brewery’s IPA.
2876 Dundas West, at Keele, 416-760-9691, indiealehouse.com
Barhop Jerk lager mussels
Never content to just douse their bivalves in booze and garlic and call it a day, Barhop offers a handful of mussel options, including a lager and jerk-spice version that comes flanked by a hunk of fresh baguette and a juice-swollen grilled lemon. Don’t expect the kitchen to go easy on the heat – these impressively fresh mussels get enough to conjure up a nice endorphin burn, and the broth is even more intense, with runoff spices swirling like silt at the bottom of the bowl. Luckily, the staff know exactly which one-off saisons and seasonal pale ales hold their own against your main course.
391 King West, at Charlotte, 647-352-7476, barhopbar.com
Bang Bang Bellwoods beer ice cream
Tapping Bellwoods to supply beer for an ice cream flavour seems like a no-brainer for this perpetually mobbed parlour – all they’d have to do is roll the kegs across Ossington (and through the 30-deep lineup of people waiting for a Hong Kong waffle cone). Bellwoods Stout is a favourite flavour, but they recently swapped it out for a Beer ‘N’ Brown Bread blend made with the Jutsu APA. The ice cream, studded with sweet, crumbled, caramelized bread, showcases the beer’s refreshing mild hoppiness as well as its citrus and peach notes without ever getting too bitter. Get yours scooped onto a plushy profiterole with a brown-sugar crust. Heaven.
93 Ossington, at Humbert, 647-348-1900, bangbangicecream.com
Duggan’s Brewery Stout-glazed bacon
Duggan’s Parkdale brew pub also works its No. 7 stout into a crème brûlée – but if that’s too classy for the night you’ve got planned, throw down 6 bucks for as many slices of bacon brushed with brown sugar and stout before arriving at your table in a glass goblet. The bacon is chilled, which might throw you at first – but the sweet crust is ultra-addictive, and after a cold one (or three), this stuff is practically the greatest thing since sliced bread.
Tip from our server: when you’re done, hoist the cup and slam back the bed of crispy fried onions at the bottom like they’re the last dregs of a pint.
1346 Queen West, at Brock, 416-588-1086, duggansbreweryparkdale.com