Pairing Beer and Chips with Mackie’s Scottish Crisps

As any food and drink writer currently studying to be a beer sommelier (is there others doing this?) when you are approached by brands you take a look at how trying one thing can help with another. When an email dropped in my inbox with the opportunity to work with Mackie’s Scottish Crisps I knew I wanted to do something different all the while not adding any extra work into my already crazy life. Mackie’s comes in a bunch of wild and crazy flavours so why not find out which beer would taste best when you want to get your snack on? An adult beverage for an adult chip.

Deciding on the beers was pretty simple. I stayed away from the heavier beers like brown ales and stouts because who can really see themselves eating chips with those? Dessert more like it! Here are the 5 styles I experimented with.

Kolsch – This German style is a light, crisp beer with a low hop presence and some vinous characteristics. As a malt forward beer with a balance of sweetness and bitterness it works really well with  balanced flavoured chip like the sea salt and beef. When there are not as many flavours in play it compliments well.

Wheat Beer – These beers pair well with most food and have a full, grainy mouth feel. This beer style is great with salty snacks and its grain like flavour compliments the potato starch perfectly. (Note: All the chips paired wonderfully with the wheat beer)

Cream Ale– Similar to a lager, cream ales also contain a grain-like taste but with a crisp, refreshing finish. Also malt and hop balanced, this beer is a great choice for uncomplicated chip flavours.

Amber Ale– A malt forward beer with hints of caramel and toffee. It has very little bitterness. Being a little on the sweet side this beer is perfect for chips that you want a contrast in flavours. Mature cheddar versus dark sugar flavours.

IPA– The most bitter of the beers, IPA’s have a distinct resinous flavour and citrus notes. This beer is perfect for fatty foods as well as cutting through the heat on spicier chips.

I had group of foodies with varied beer consumption habits gather together on a warm summer day by a pool to make our chip tasting fun and delicious. Starting with the mildest flavour of chip and continuing through all the bags we sipped and chipped and judged our way to some very solid winners.

Mackie’s chips are made in such a way that it’s the flavour of the chip you are tasting the not the oil.  They are thick cut, crispy and hold up amazingly well with the beer.  And now on to the winners.

Chip Flavour: Sea Salt

Best Beer Pairing: Tie between Kolsch and Cream Ale

Chip Flavour: Sea Salt and Vinegar

Best Beer Pairing: Cream Ale

Chip Flavour: Crispy Bacon

Best Beer Pairing: Amber

Chip Flavour: Tangy Tomato

Best Beer Pairing: Kolsch

Chip Flavour: Mature Cheddar and Onion

Best Beer Pairing: Amber

Chip Flavour: Honey Mustard

Best Beer Pairing: IPA

Chip Flavour: Aberdeen Angus Beef

Best Beer Pairing: Kolsch

Chip Flavour: Haggis and Black Pepper

Best Beer Pairing: Kolsch

Chip Flavour: Scotch Bonnet Chili Pepper

Best Beer Pairing: IPA

Keep in mind these decisions were based on our taste buds and may not work for everyone else. It was certainly a fun experiment.  Want to try some pairings yourself?  Lucky for us Mackie’s is available in Canada at these fine retailers: Farmland, select Foodlands, Bruno’s, Bloor Street Market, McEwan, Farm Boy, Nature’s Emporium, Denningers, and Organic Garage.

Find out more information on their Facebook page

*this post was sponsored by Mackie’s Chips.  All opinions, however are my own.


The Top 5 Ways To Get The Most Out Of The Toronto Winter Brewfest

(photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

Beer festival season has officially begun and to kick it all off the Toronto Winter Brewfest has returned for it’s second straight year. After listening to their guests from last year about what could be improved it is guaranteed to better than ever.  For two days ( March 24-25, Enercare Centre, Toronto) you can join the masses of Toronto beer lovers, nibble on delectable eats, groove to the funky beats of local DJ’s and of course sample over 150 different beers from around our great country all while staying warm and dry. And for the first time they will be introducing a cashless system using a RFID wristband that will get you through the lines and the beer into your mouth faster.

There isn’t much I need to say to convince any beer lover to attend so instead here are my top five ways for you to get the most out of your day.

(photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  1. Get There Early. 

    As the saying goes the early bird gets the worm.  In this case the early beer drinker gets the shortest lines and full kegs.  Don’t be that person who shows up three hours in and complains they can’t that special rare pour from their favorite brewer. Be the person who has tried it three times cause they came early.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  2. Ease In.

    I know with all that variety it’s like being a kid in a candy store but don’t go running around gobbling up the Belgian quads and Imperial Stouts. Start light and work up. Don’t be that person who taps out an hour in.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  3. Try Something New.

    I understand we all have our styles and breweries of choice. The ones we know won’t disappoint. But with over 150 different beers available right there in front of you step outside your comfort zone and try something new. Ask the brewery to recommend something. I like to say “surprise me” as I hand over my glass. Don’t be that person that spends all their money in one place.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  4. Talk To People.

    It’s a long day pulling glass after glass, trying to keep up with the lines.  Make a point to say something to the person that is pouring your sample. Keep it quick and simple so you don’t hold up any lines. Or if a representative of the brewery is there ask them a question or compliment their work. They are the best resource to finding other beers you will enjoy and quite frankly deserve the extra love from the community for all their hard work.  Also talk to people around you. We are all there for the same reason. Beer. Don’t be the wallflower.

    (photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

  5. Remember We Are Not Saving The World Here.

    It’s a beer festival people. Get off your high horse. Leave your snobby beer terminology at home (trust me this will be a tough one for me). Just enjoy yourself. We are drinking beer. We are not curing diseases. HAVE FUN!!! Don’t be the person with less social media followers than when they arrived.

Tickets are still available so make sure you get yours today and say hi if you see me!

(photo courtesy of Ottawa Brewfest)

2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 24


Wow! It’s really done. Twenty four days of some of my favorite beers.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I have.  Is there any I missed that you think should have been on the calendar or would be in your own? Comment below I’d love to hear your choices.

I leave you with the best beer for Christmas Eve. A smooth, creamy vanilla porter from Mill Street.

Merry Christmas everyone and a happy New Year. 


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 23


The holiday season is all about food and drink.  Good food and drink. Gluttonous food and drink.  While family obligation usually make me a slave to other people’s dishes I still like to stock up on a few recipes of my own to give me a break from leftovers.  I’m just beginning to explore the world of cooking with beer and wow are there endless possibilities. Stay tuned in the New Year as new and delicious beer based recipes hit the blog. 

In the meantime let me introduce you to one of my favorite beers to cook with. This nut brown ale from Black Oak has totally changed my recipe game. I’ve used it in meat pies, desserts, as a gravy base. It’s only 5 percent and it’s deep roasted coffee and chocolate notes highlight any dish it is in.

Cheers to 24 days of craft beer!

2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar- Day 22


Only a couple more days until Christmas and right now all I want is to be somewhere warm, like a beach in Mexico.  I wish I was back at Spring Sessions from a few years back where the day was cool but the sun so bright and warm that my friend and I didn’t even realize we were getting burnt to a crisp in April. Ahhh the warmth I remember from that day.

A beach would be the perfect place to sip this pilsner from Double Trouble. Prison Break is light and crisp and refreshing. And only 5 percent ABV.

Cheers to 24 days of craft beer.


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 21


You may have noticed that most of my beer choices are local to my area of Ontario or at least available at The Beer Store or LCBO.  I did that on purpose to make it easier for anyone wanting to try any of my choices.  In everyday beer life I like to try beer from everywhere.  That’s why it’s great to have friends all over the place that equally enjoy beer. I usually pack up a sampler of local beers to give and they return the favour.  The beer community is tight!

This Earl Grey Porter from Royal City is one such gift.  I love all things this Kitchener-Waterloo Brewery is doing. This porter is smooth with a light scent and flavour of bergamot. At 5 percent this beer a wonderful winter sip.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 20


2016 brought an amazing new advancement for craft beer and really all beer drinkers. Beer in the grocery store. I know there is a lot of debate on the subject from both sides but quite honestly for incredibly selfish reason I love it.  I’m a very busy person and if I can pick up my beer at the same location as I can pick up the rest of my groceries I ‘ve just scored  a huge win in my find more time to do more stuff strategy.  Now I have to just try this LCBO delivery service.

It’s beer like Lake of Bay’s Spark House that I grab from my grocery shelf. This roasted and nutty flavour red ale is a beautiful copper hue. A really perfect holiday drinker. 5 percent ABV and 29 IBU’s. 

Cheers to 24 days of craft beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 19


I am a late bloomer when it comes to beer.  I was a wine and hard liquor drinker until I realized my body just wasn’t reacting well to it. Wine gave me headaches, and the hard stuff hit me way to0 hard and I usually would get very hungover.  I was getting older and past the drinking to get buzzed part of my life.  But I still wanted something to enjoy in a social aspect; something that was a reasonable sipper with great flavour. My previous experience with beer was not with anything of great quality (remember my England story) so when I went to a food and drink event one year and tried Nickel Brooks Green Apple Beer I realized that not all beer tasted the same. Yes it was a weird entry into the massive flavour profile of beer but it gave me hope and bravery to keep experimenting. 

Fast forward many years later and I am a proud craft beer drinker.  Don’t let one beer set you off the whole group. I have a friend who says it all tastes like burn but in the past year have shown her some that she has surprisingly enjoy. 

So thank you Nickel Brook for your help in my beer loving discovery. Thank you for great beers like this Naughty Neighbour APA. With only 4.9 percent ABV and a moderate 38 IBU’s it falls perfectly into my beer loving criteria.


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 18


Funny and slightly TMI story for you folks.  Every year I participate in the Toronto International Film Festival. I go to three different movies, each with a red carpet and star Q&A.  It’s usually with one particular friend of mine however last year scheduling issues required me to bring along my beer friend instead. We hit up a downtown pub, put back some frothy beverages, lamented my previous day bee sting and subsequent infection before heading to see the movie.  It was not going to be a happy movie, child soldiers in Africa never are but the main actor Idris Elba was going to be there. Yes Luther, DJ extraordinaire, further James Bond (we hope). The movie was outstanding, sad of course but when the man himself came out in his tight black jeans and massive bulge we were gobsmacked. And glad we fortified with beer beforehand.

The beer? It was this easy going Barking Squirrel Lager from Hop City. An amber lager it has a IBU of 24 and 5 percent ABV.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 17


All or Nothing Brewery is starting small. By crafting one beer and one only they are perfecting one thing at a time.  My beer friend and I like to get to beer festivals just as they open.  One off’s haven’t sold out, no lines and generally a great experience with lesser crowds.  One such festival we were also fortunate to find a comfy bench positioned right in front of All or Nothing.  For the first hour our tokens basically went to these guys. Not complaining though as their hopfenweisse is both refreshing and delicious.

4.1 percent ABV and 25 IBU’s we did pretty good staying in one spot that day.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 16


The community that is small craft brewers is a tight group. While it may exist competitiveness is light and fun.  As a writer and drinker of all things beer I have had to reach out and communicate with many breweries and each and every time they have been gracious and quick to respond to any of my requests. They are so enthusiastic about their product and at every event they are the perfect people to engage with if you want to learn more about processes and beers.

Some of my favorite exchanges have been with the people over at Creemore Springs. They are doing great things over there and it’s my pleasure to include them in my calendar.  This Lot 9 is light and lovely czech-style pilsner. 4.7 percent ABV and 20 IBUs.


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 15


When I initially started thinking about creating this advent calendar I was a bit concerned I wouldn’t be able to find 24 beers to profile.  You forget over 365 days how many different beers you have tried. Standing in front of my fridge or at the LCBO I suddenly wished it could be 35 days long. Man I had some tough decisions to make. Beers needed to be cut. That’s where my beer bestie came in.  This friend has been my festival goers, photo shoot drinker, beer bar partner for a long time now.  We have very different tastes when it comes to our favorites but one thing is for sure she is just as enthusiastic to try anything as I am.  We have had many adventures together and there will be many, many more.

So this Detour from Muskoka Brewery is for her. She made the decision to keep it in the running and for that I dedicate this beer to her. 4.3 percent and 30 IBU’s with big hoppy flavours.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 14


You can clearly see the dents in this can.  When I was taking all the photo’s I briefly thought about going a buying a newer and prettier sample for the advent. But you knw what? These are beers in my cooler, fridge or holding box (until it gets to fridge or cooler). They are dented cause I knock them around.  It’s not a model it’s a beer I plan on drinking. Today in fact. Dents and all.

Nickel Brook Brewery has come a long way and this blonde Cause and Effect is a great drinking beer. ABV of 4.7 percent and 19 IBU’s.

Cheers to 24 days of beers!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 13


Saison’s are my favorite style of beer to try.  While wheats are my go to brew this style is one that brewers can have the most fun with experimentally.  More carbonated, fruity, herbal, spicy tastes, saisons are fun.  However with this much room for variety they all can’t be perfect.

I drink every beer I order.  Some are stellar; other’s not so much. There has only been two instances where I didn’t finish a beer and one saison that I drank but it was a cringe worthy event from start to finish.  My table mate was dying at all the faces I was making at each sip.  They actually became natural; myself not realizing I was doing it after half a glass. The things we do for beer.

This saison from Collingwood Brewery is amazing right to the last drop. Sweet and tart it’s a beautiful pour with a mild 20 IBU but leg wobbling 7.0 percent ABV.

Cheers to 24 days of beer! 


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 12


The above photo is a bit deceiving.  Don’t get me wrong I  love me some Dead Elephant from Railway City.  It’s a fruity and hoppy pour with a ABV of 6.5 and IBU of 46. Such a strong and robust IPA to drink. What I really wanted to showcase however is their Double Dead Elephant. It’s a double smoked IPA with a kickass 7.5 ABV and 90 IBU’s. These style of beer is the least of my favorite but this beer in particular blows my mind. (I partially blame the ABV). Unfortunately it has a small brewing window and is only available late fall. And as you can tell by my lack of photo I missed it again!

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 11


I’ve talked previously about the how much fun craft brewers have with names but let’s talk briefly about can design. Gone are the days of labels with the brewery’s name and beer moniker.  Graphic designers and artists alike are having a hell of a time creating eye catching and creative wrappings. There was even an art exhibit this fall featuring some of the best out there.

Double Trouble’s Hops and Robbers is a trifecta; cute name, stunning design and killer beer.  This IPA is strong on the caramel and malt taste spectrum and hits at 5.7 percent ABV and 50 IBU’s.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 10


To follow up on my awful choices on my England trip I’ll show you an example of how I’ve improved on my decision making skills.

Our neighbourhood local is a 5 minute walk from our house. Perfect right? It also happens to be an Irish pub. Even better. It also has a decent selection of craft beer. And while yes I again am ignoring all those wonderful ales and draughts at least I’m drinking stuff like this Pompous Ass English Ale from Great Lakes Brewery.

A favorite craft ale of mine it has 28 IBU’s and 4.2 percent ABV.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 9


There are a lot of beer festivals all over the city and surrounding areas.  I attend about 85 percent of them.  They are the best way to try so many different beers and find new breweries in one central location.  Maybe you think you don’t like IPAs but want to be completely sure. 1 or 2 bucks later you may find they aren’t all bad. Of all the events I highly recommend The Toronto Festival of Beer Spring Session. (summer session is too fratboy for me) It’s a really chill atmosphere, all craft brewers shaking off the winter blues and showing off some great seasonals. It’s perfect for your everyday beer drinker.

For the more hard core drinker I encourage you to check out Cask Days.  A totally beer-intense experience it’s not for the faint of heart.  A couple of years ago I had a cask version of the ever popular Beau’s Tom Green Milk Stout.  I’m not a coffee drinker therefore I have a hard time finding a stout I enjoy.  This creamy, velvety, chocolatey stout is by far my favorite of this style. A mild 27 IBU’s and 5.0 percent ABV.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar – Day 8


When I was 18 years old I was fortunate enough to travel to England for 10 days with a friend of mine.  We were visiting two different sets of family of hers and being that the age of majority was exactly my age, we were so excited to hit up the locals and drink our faces off. Here I am hitting pub after pub, where telling patrons you were Canadian meant every round was on them, and spending many a next morning incredibly hungover. The sad part of this dream come true? I was in the country with the best ales around and all I drank was Bud Light. I AM SO ASHAMED!

I have definitely made for lost time in the past several years but drinking much better beer like this Saint of Circumstance;  a blond citrus ale from Collective Arts Brewing. This is fruity, light and full of lemon notes. A palatable 19 IBU’s and 4.7 percent ABV.

Cheers to 24 days of beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar- Day 7


Let’s talk about this IPA from Longslice Brewery . 69 IBU’s and 6.5 percent. It’s a big IPA with notes of honey, papaya, chocolate and rye. Delicious.  But can we really talk about what I love about this beer? It has a sense of humour.  Pick up a can and you will see what I mean.


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar- Day 6


So i’m not someone to stay on trend. For example the last time I had this Revivale by Lost Craft I was sitting at a well known whiskey bar with a friend waiting for a few other friends. A large group of well dressed gen x’ers came up to bar and one gentleman commended me on my choice of beverage. He and his group however had just come from a huge secret whiskey event that is put on every year and were several hours into a heavy hard liquor evening. I saluted him on his stamina and secretly cheered that I would be feeling a hell of a lot better the next morning than he will.

This beautifully branded lagered ale is a quiet surprise at 25 IBU’s  and a mild 4.8 percent.

Cheers to 24 Days of Beer!


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar- Day 5


So it was a beautiful summer afternoon when my bestest beer drinking friend and I decided would be super healthy and go for a long but leisurely walk down to the lake. Starting right by the Gladstone we headed towards the ex, over the bridge and along the water. We knew the further we walked away from our starting point the longer it would take to get back. But we had a destination in mind and there was nothing turning us back. Amsterdam Brewery. After the most amazing fresh pretzels with a dipping sauce we wanted to bathe in, massive burgers and lot’s of amazing beer we had a stroke of genius. Let’s take transit home.

Boneshaker is my friends favorite there. A strong IPA is packs a wallop at 7.1 percent ABV’s and 80 IBU’s. It was greatly needed fortification that day.

Cheers to 24 days of beer.


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar- Day 4


Wheat beers of any form are my ultimate favourite.  The more it tastes like wheat fields the happier I am. The first time I had this beer was at a weekly event called Triple B’s at Lisa Marie. It’s a Tuesday night of beer (cheap), burgers (massive) and bingo (uber cheesy but super fun). They were offering up a pint for $5 and even though cheap always tastes delicious I have easily paid full price for this beer. 

Grasshopper from Big Rock Brewery is a very drinkable wheat ale with an ABV of 5 and low IBU 16. A “have a lot of” type of beer.

Cheers to 24 days of Beer.


2016 Craft Beer Advent Calendar- Day 3


One of the things I love about craft beer and the ever changing options out there is that the name game is on point. Some of my favorites include Haters Gonna Hate, Crazy Cat Lady, Bock Me Gently, Midnight Kissed My Cow, Juicy Ass, Hasselhef, Audrey Hopburn, My Bitter Wife…the creativity is endless. I think if I ever made my own beer I’d spend more time coming up with names than actually producing.

Mad Tom from Muskoka Brewery is the milder cousin of Twice As Mad Tom. See another great moniker! This is another one of those big IPA’s with notes of orange, pine and floral elements. It comes in at a 6.4 ABV and 64 IBU’s.

Cheers to 24 Days of Beer!