Ontario Brews: Come All Ye Faithful
Food Professor Roger Mittag is a beer educator of biblical proportions. In 2005, after 28 years in the beer industry, Mittag started Thirst for Knowledge — his own beer education program.
Its success led to the creation of a sommelier-style certification program dedicated to beer, called Prud’homme Certification. His aim: educate Canadians about the drink of the season — beer. And, now that summer has arrived, there is no better time to up one’s knowledge of beer — from Ontario’s local brews to those found around the world.
COMMANDMENT : KNOW THY LOCAL BEER
Mediaplanet What is a craft beer and how are they different from other beers?
Roger Mittag: Craft to me is all about passion and science coming together. It’s really about making a beer that is interesting and well made. I think it’s very important to be creative but I also believe every brewer needs to fully understand all of the science that goes into making a beer consistent and of good quality. There are so many things that can go wrong. Science is what helps creative brewers become successful.
MP What sets Ontario’s brews apart from others across the world?
RM: Tough question — I think all brewers should be held on a pedestal. They all work so hard to make something that we, as beer drinkers, will enjoy.
COMMANDMENT: KNOW THY SUMMER BEERS
MP What type of beer can we find you drinking on a warm summer day?
RM: My favourite style is German pilsners. They have enough body to satisfy my taste buds but are still easy to drink and refreshing.
MP There’s been a lot of hype about radlers this summer. Where did they come from and what makes them so unique?
RM: A radler is simply a German version of a Shandy. The word rad means bicycle. It was created when a bunch of cyclists stopped by a local Bavarian pub. The pub owner, fearing that he did not have enough beer, mixed the beer with pop or juice. The result was a beer that was lighter and very refreshing. Being much lower in alcohol, it was also safer for the cyclists to drink and ride.
COMMANDMENT: KNOW THY BEER GLASS
MP How can we enhance our beer experience this summer?
RM: One of the biggest things for me is to get a beer in the right glass poured with a good amount of foam. The shape and size of your glass will enhance the aromas and flavours and create a more enjoyable experience. Beers taste totally different in different shaped glassware.
Glassware does a lot more than just hold beverages. Try to pick the right glass for the right beer. Stemmed glasses can be enjoyed for both lagers and ales, but for different reasons. Lagers are thirst quenchers. Your hand should stay away from the body of the glass to avoid warming the beer. Conversely, ales are full bodied and robust, sometimes requiring the warmth of a hand to bring out all of the great flavours and aromas.