Wednesday, February 13, 2008

PAIRINGS: BBQ & Beer pt 2

Beer Pairings pt. 2

This is week two in our series of BBQ and beer pairings. This week we are focusing on the standard red sauce. The recipe is courtesy of Look for our upcoming interview with’s resident BBQ expert!

Our thanks go out (again!) to Timothy Bisson and Michael Payne for their guidance and kind assistance.

Standard Red Sauce

1 cup ketchup
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons paprika
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon cayenne

Heat oil in a saucepan. Add garlic and sauté
until brown. Add remaining ingredients and reduce heat.
Simmer for 15 minutes until thick.

Michael Payne:

Styles - Dubbel, Smoked Porter

This is the classic red sauce, and my first thought was to pair it with the classic of Belgian beers. Since a major component of the flavor of this red sauce comes from the sweetness of the ketchup and the brown sugar, the natural choice is to pair it with a malty brown beer. Any brown beer will do an adequate job, but if you want something really special go with a Belgian Dubbel.

Dubbels are strong, malty, fruity beers traditionally produced by monks in Trappist monasteries (thought many good dubbels are produced by secular breweries as well today). The rich malt character of a good Dubbel matches the sweetness of the sauce and also stands up to the tomato character, which is a tough match for most beers. The dark, fruity characteristics of the beer will compliment and contrast the spices and garlic, while the slightly stronger than average alcohol content (about 7%) will cut through the richness of both the sauce and meat.

Another good match for this traditional sauce would be a smoked porter. This is a logical match for any BBQ dish because of its savory smoke character and rich maltiness. The best smoked porters have a subtle smoke character that will match any meat, a maltiness to match sweet, rich sauce, and brisk hoppiness that compliments chili pepper spice.

Suggested Commercial Examples:

Dubbel - Chimay Premiere (Red), St. Bernardus 8, New Belgium Abbey

Smoked Porter - Stone Smoked Porter, Alaskan Smoked Porter

Timothy Bisson:

I found two beers that went very well with Brisket and the KC Red Sauce. These were the Belhaven Wee Heavy and Deschutes Black Butte Porter. They are rather different though.

If you want the beer to be showcased go with the Black Butte. It’s roasty and bitter which creates a good base for the vinegar and sweet flavors in the sauce. Also, the fat and rich flavor of the beef fit nicely when doused by the black pepper, caramel and chocolate flavors found in the Porter. The Porter added delicious contrast to the brisket. This was my wife, Jennifer’s, pick as favorite.

If you want the brisket and sauce to prevail, go with the Wee Heavy. This was my favorite. It was truly special when I took a whiff of the Wee Heavy while enjoying the brisket. The char of the brisket added a whisp of smoke to the toasty malt and alcohol of the Wee Heavy. The Wee Heavy is a Scotch Ale at 6.5% ABV. The sweetness and acidity of the beer matched the sweetness from the sauce’s ketchup and the acidity from the vinegar. It’s a malt balanced beer but has enough hop bitterness to keep the finish dry. The Wee Heavy made the brisket seem more moist. It added a tad of bitterness and cut nicely through the fat and sinew leaving my mouth happy and ready for more.

Beef Ribs

Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale was the match for this tasty combo. It’s a well hopped high alcohol (7.2 % ABV) American Brown Ale that can be found at better beer stores all around the US. The hop bitterness and the roasted malts gave a good foundation for the short ribs and sauce to frolic on. The sauce is pleasantly sweet and acidic. The caramel malt flavor blends well with the sweetness in the meat and sauce. The beer’s complex aroma of earthy, pungent hops, alcohol, raisins, and molasses follows through into the flavor and sinks into the ribs. This was a bold beer for a bold dish.

Pork Ribs

The ribs needed something to cut through its fat while complementing the lovely flavor of the meat and sauce. This called for the Belgian Trappist Ale, Rochefort 8. It’s 9.2% ABV with a slight fusel alcohol component in the nose and flavor that acted as a wonderful knife on the rib fat. This left behind the caramel and pale malt sweetness of the beer to freely intermingle with the rich pork flavors Also, the aroma has some sweet banana, pear and cloves that added good balance and helped ground the ketchup and vinegar of the sauce. I am finding that pork ribs and darker Belgian Ales are wonderful together. The sweetness in the beer and sauce match. Also, the alcohol and high carbonation of the beer elevate the sensitivity of the palate; opening it for the delicious duo it’s encountering.

Chicken Breasts
The garlic, cayenne, and vinegar when combined with caramel char of the ketchup made a tasty dish with lots of flavors to enjoy. I went for a beer that would let the chicken be showcased, add some complementary sweetness and cleanse the palate. This was the Einbecker Schwarzbier. It’s malt balanced, clean, very smooth and was perfect with the chicken. The malt sweetness of the beer matched that of the sauce. The slight roasty character of the Schwarzbier melded right into the char of the chicken. The beer’s aroma has a slight grain component that added a bit of complexity to the meal. But, mostly, this beer was a great supporting actor and allowed the star to shine.

Schwarzbier Subtitute: Sam Adams Black Lager


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