By: Alex Quevillon

Kichesippi’s 1855 natural blonde ale, courtesy Restaurant International

Three courses of food and six local beers were on display at Algonquin’s Restaurant International on Monday, Feb. 4, as they played host to the third annual Student Affair and Orientation beer and food pairing workshop.

Kichesippi Beer Co. and Beyond the Pale Brewing had two of their beers sampled, while Big Rig Brew and Beau’s All Natural Brewing Co. were represented by one beer apiece.

“The more education you have about alcohol, typically the more respect you have for it,” said Bill Kitchen, Algonquin’s events programmer.

“It’s really about trying to create awareness and to expose people to a broader knowledge about beer, rather than it just being a beverage you can drink after you’ve landed a ping-pong ball in a cup.”

This tasting helps give exposure to the restaurant, school and beer companies, while bringing them all closer together.

“It’s about building a relationship with the college and local breweries,” said Algonquin hospitality professor Geoffrey Skeggs.

Paul Meek, the sales manager for Kichesippi Beer Co., also believes that these relationship builders with the school are integral.

“The Algonquin community is very important to us,” he added.  “The college has a very good presence in the community, all of our graphics are done by Algonquin grads, their students have done studies on our business and we’ve welcomed them in terms of working with them.”

Students began lining up more than half an hour before the event started, pouring in to the reception area before sitting down at their respective tables.  Nine tables were lined up as patrons tried the beverages and edibles over a two-hour span.

Spring rolls, soup, pulled pork with potatoes, jerk chicken with jasmine rice, fish and chips, orange sorbet and chocolate cake pops were served, compared and contrasted with the beer.  Participants were asked which combinations they preferred.

Big Rig also had cases of beer and shirts handed out to winners of raffles held throughout the night.

This year’s edition of the event was a near sell-out, thanks in large part to the $19 price and smaller quantity of food from previous editions.  At the last food and beer pairing event, tickets were sold for $55 and contained nine beer and a much larger portion of food.

Moving forward, the college and Restaurant International would like to host more alcohol and food pairings.

“We’d eventually like to do a wine and food pairing event with a meal,” said Cathy Dewar, who works at the restaurant.  “We’re encouraged to see students come in, and an event like this is good for the students.”

The event was open to the public, but only advertised and marketed to people at Algonquin.

“It helps show people where the restaurant is and we get some bounce-back,” added Restaurant International manager James Waller.  “It does add some exposure around the school for sure, and these events are real fun.”