Booze-soaked Christmas pudding is definitely a love-it-or-use-it-as-a-paperweight dish. Whatever side you fall on, these four ales will make the English holiday staple go down easy.
Chris Thorn, who took over as chef at Etobicoke craft-beer pub The Monk’s Kettle in February, still salivates over a recent Christmas pudding memory: His mother-in-law drenched her dish in rum every month for a whole year. “It was epic,” he raves. “I had two slices with rum butter melted on top. Usually I just have one, to be polite.”
Of course, the dessert is an acquired taste, one best matched with a tasty beer. “The breadcrumbs, beef suet, and rum butter give the pudding a heavy mouthfeel,” says Thorn, “so the beer needs to accentuate [the dish’s] ginger, allspice, and candied-fruit flavours.” Along with Brandon Rennie, the Kettle’s bar manager, Thorn selected four brews to pair with the festive cake.
1. Samichlaus Eggenberg Brewery, Austria
“Christmas pudding comes at the end of a huge meal, so you don’t need a whole pint of anything,” says Thorn. That’s especially true for this sweet 14 per cent dopplebock, which is akin to a port. “Pour one or two ounces of this with your slice, then eat, drink, and collapse.”
$4.50 per 330-ml bottle, LCBO.
2. Backwoods Bastard Founders Brewing Co., U.S.A.
This caramel-forward Scotch ale is aged in a bourbon barrel. “The flavour matches the rum in the pudding,” says Thorn. Because of this quality, this 10 per cent whopper balances boozier, aged cakes. Mmm…months-old dessert.
$7.05 per 500-ml bottle, LCBO.
3. Rochefort 10 Rochefort Brewery, Belgium
This venerable Belgian brew is a no-brainer to partner with the Victorian dessert. “The 11.3 per cent alcohol content will cut the fat and can stand up to the pudding’s own booze. And the dark fruit and spicy notes in the beer’s yeast will echo the same features in the dish,” says Rennie.
$3.60 per 350-ml bottle, LCBO.
4. Red Rocket Stout Sawdust City Brewing Co., Ontario
“It’s vanilla, then coffee, and three seconds later, you get the heat of cayenne pepper in your throat,” says Rennie. The stout’s peppery heat gives it a lingering, warm finish.
$7.25 per pint at The Monk’s Kettle.
The Monk’s Kettle, 3073 Bloor St. W., 647-348-4848, themonkskettle.com.