Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Friday, November 6, 2009
A Fresh Take On Tradition
Getting together with friends and family over the holidays can be full of conflicting feelings; You love your relatives, you want them to go home immediately. You appreciate the wisdom of your parents, you want them to stop telling you where you went wrong. You're happy to blow off steam at the annual office Christmas party, you don't want to see Suzy from accounting get drunk and remove her top. Holiday gatherings often fill one with the desire to find another strong drink or the door, or both. And if you are giving into ritual, you may want to host your own gathering, but feel a bit uninspired while watching the cranberry sauce slowly slide out of the can into the pot.
Enter beer: a breath of fresh air in the cold weather. An offering that will make your holiday party stand out among all others. Pairing beer with classic holiday dishes keeps the boredom out and enhances the food as well as any wine or spirit could. In fact, slipping some craft beer in next to traditional dishes is a great way to educate your guests' palates. And this time of year is full of fall/winter ales that hold all of the flavors of the season: Pumpkin, nutmeg, fig, pine trees, etc. Here are a few pairing suggestions we offer as a way around the ordinary holiday happenings.
- Turkey and Stuffing that Won't Make You Yawn: This dish transforms when paired with Craftsman Triple White Sage. This is a mean recommendation because you can only get this beer on tap around Los Angeles, as it is a local brewery that doesn't bottle yet. This is a Belgian Tripel brewed with handpicked sage, perfect for picking up the spices on stuffing and the earthy flavor of roasted turkey. 9% Alcohol by Volume (ABV)
- Don't Throw out that Fruit Cake: Paired with a Scaldis Noel, a seasonal Belgian Ale with complex flavors of spice, dried fruit and caramel, and a big 12% ABV, makes you a lot happier that your Aunt Betty sent you yet another tin.
- Pumpkin Pie with a Kick: Pair this with Dogfish Head's Punkin' Ale, a beer made with pumpkin that offers notes of allspice and brown sugar. At 7% ABV, this beer adds a nice kick and magnifies the rich flavors of this old ubiquitous favorite.
- Latkes Like You've Never Seen Them: Potato pancakes are delicious with applesauce, we suggest ditching the sauce and buying a bottle of Unibrioue Ephemere, a beer from Chambly Quebec that is brewed with apples and coriander. Not too sweet like cider, but full of apple flavor and a crisp, clean mouthfeel that lifts those Latkes up to a new level.
- Those Sugar Cookies In Various Shapes: You can't resist making these for your holiday party, but if you Try this with Anderson Valley's Winter Solstice. This Winter Warmer tastes like creme brulee and caramel and, well, sugar cookies. Even when these babies go stale, you will still be happy eating one chased by this beer.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Foods That Taste Better With Beer
(View entire post here)
We're not haters. Just because we're beer lovers doesn't mean that we dislike wine. (Lovers, not fighters...) We're big fans of fermented grape-juice. We admire wine's nuance and mystique. We have bottles of Bordeaux aging alongside our beer collections. The bottom line, however, is that beer just happens to be more versatile in flavor profiles. It simply offers a wider breadth of flavors than wine. (We're prepared for some angry letters.) There are some beers as sour as a kumquat or fresh yogurt, there are beers with pine tree resin flavors that coat the tongue. There are beers that taste like a shot of espresso and others brewed with coriander and juniper. Beer's many flavors and styles are liberating and pair well with a plethora of foods. This is why we knew that part of our book had to be devoted to beer's relationship with food - why we discuss the beauty of the beer dinner - and why we called upon chefs to share recipes that use beer as an ingredient. Beer belongs with food. If you're just delving into the craft beer world and are beginning to move your beer pairings beyond bar menu items like Buffalo wings and chili cheese fries, be prepared to taste food again for the first time.
Here are five foods that we feel pair best with beer. Skeptics, it's time to zip it, and let your taste buds decide. Beer lovers be prepared for validation.
1) Grilled Artichokes - Notoriously difficult to pair with wine, artichokes make most wines taste sweet due to a complex compound (cynarin) that affects our taste buds. Indeed, the flavors of an artichoke are difficult to describe, but a Saison can be a perfect pairing with its citrus and spicy notes that enhance the artichoke's flavors. Just imagine a squeeze of lemon and a dash of pepper.
2) Spicy Curry - Heat is hard to handle, especially with red wine. Some whites work well enough, but they lack the beer's bubbles that help ease a fiery tongue. Try a Belgian Golden Ale, or a beer brewed with spices used in Indian foods, like coriander and clove (perhaps a Witbier). Let the beer pick up the sweetness of those spices while maintaining a dry hop backbone for the full flavor and cool, prickly bubbles to help cut the heat. Or go another way and try a Belgian IPA (not to be confused with an American India Pale Ale or IPA), a style known for a dry hop that can slice through big and bold flavors.
3) Burgers - Perhaps this isn't a revelation. No doubt, most people have washed down many a burger with a nice cold "lite" brewski. But that's not what we're talking about here. If you've only paired a burger with a light crisp lager, you're missing something special. We like to pair our burgers with a tannic and dry IPA (now we are referring to the American IPA). What better way to cut through the fat and full flavors of a burger with cheese and onions, and hopefully bacon, than a nice hoppy effervescent IPA? It's the bite that you always wanted with your burger, cleansing the palate with each sip.
4) Cheesecake - Oh so many beers work with this classic dessert. The richness of cheesecake, like bites of cheese itself, benefit from the bubbles (as most of these pairings do) and different flavors of beer transform this dessert. An Oatmeal Stout adds chocolate and coffee notes, a Peche (peach) Lambic adds sweet and tart fruity notes. A dry funky Gueuze adds an earthy complexity with a sour, clean finish. Just as cheese loves to be paired with beer, cheesecake, in its many variations, is seduced by beer as well.
5) Ice Cream - Who drinks wine with ice-cream? No one, that's who. But beer and ice cream are fast friends. The richness of the cream plays well with a bit of CO2, and the multitude of ice cream flavors provide endless possibilities of accompaniments to a variety of beers. Think how much better that root beer float would be, if you took out the "root" and just went with the beer instead. Think Double Chocolate Russian Imperial Stout with vanilla bean ice cream. Yes, the beer float is gaining popularity as the dessert of choice by Gelato lovers who have become craft beer connoisseurs.
So there you have it. A primer of beer and food pairings to get you salivating and thinking in the right direction. Again, we're not haters, and we've got nothing against traditional beer pairings like Bratwurst and Oktoberfest beers, but the fun in dining with craft beer is in the experimentation. You might get it wrong sometimes, but we're willing to bet that, more often than not, you'll get it right. And when it's right, it's Oh So Right!
Monday, November 2, 2009
Our Love Affair with Beer
(View entire post here)
People ask us all the time, while wearing thinly veiled expressions of shock and bewilderment, how it is that two young [sic] women became beer experts? We are, in turn, often surprised by this amazement, but have discovered, through many heart to heart discussions with these people, a somewhat universal, preconceived notion of how one becomes a beer expert. It goes a little something like this: Two small babies are sitting in an empty wading pool playing with their Malibu Barbies (heads only) in the dusty backyard of a shotgun shack. They see their Uncle Billy Bob/Billy Ray/Bobby Joe, staggering in his sweat-stained, wife-beater t-shirt, take a big swig of Coors Lite and then smash the can on his forehead. Right then and there, the two dirty babies look at each other knowingly, both thinking the same thing... when we grow up, we wanna be beer experts!