On a very cold evening in January I joined fellow beer fans for a special dinner by the L is For… team at Toronto’s Beer Academy. The meal was prepared by Chef Eyal Liebman, courses were introduced by his wife, sommelier Rebecca Meir Liebman, and the paired beers were presented by the Beer Academy’s head brewer, Stephen Rich.
Even with six full courses — two appetizers, a fish, main, cheese, and dessert — Chef Liebman did a commendable job of walking the fine line between satisfying and over-stuffing diners. He also showed that plates at beer dinners don’t need to be a four-foot slab of barn board covered in a mountain of meat. Instead his her attractive and carefully presented without being fussy.
The food itself was memorably delicious. I particularly liked the Tripel-cured salmon and the dessert course that featured IPA-macerated strawberries. The former of those two courses was served with the Beer Academy Kolsch, the latter with their black lager. It’s somewhat unusual to see a particular course use two beers: one as ingredient and the other as pairing, but I appreciate the subtlety and respect for the beer that this choice demonstrates.
The Beer Academy is home base for the MolsonCoors-owned Six Pints Division that includes craft(y) brands Creemore Springs and Granville Island, and also a lineup of quite delicious house brews. The dinner was held in the back room that has a bar and event space. On the other side of the brewing facility they have a store for sampling and growler and bottle sales.
From both the beer he makes and the way he talks about them, it’s obvious that Rich is deeply passionate about good beer. I’ll be interested to see how the future develops for the Beer Academy, and the Six Pints division in general as their behemoth owners continue to grapple with the rise of craft brewing.
As well as this beer dinner, the L is For team has put on a fairly regular programme of themed events including wine and chocolate dinners. These special dinners where guests pay one price and are all served the same thing, at the same time are different enough from regular restaurant service that the advantage Chef Liebman has a specialist is fairly obvious. Their website has more information about all of their services from private chef to consulting services.