Showing posts with label Pairing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Pairing. Show all posts

Friday, February 29, 2008

PAIRINGS: Beer and BBQ pt. 4

This is the final article in our series of Beer and BBQ pairings. The previous three articles focused on sauces, but this time we are taking a look at a dry rub. It goes without saying that these articles could not have happened without the kind and informed assistance of Timothy Bisson and Michael Payne.

1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup paprika
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon onion powder
1 teaspoon cayenne
¼ cup ancho powder
¼ cup lemonade powder mix

Michael Payne

- German Pilsner, India Brown Ale

This preparation emphasizes spices, meat, and caramelization from the brown sugar. The recipe for this rub shares a lot of similarities with both Czech goulash and mexican cuisine, so I selected beers that would pair well with those foods.

German Pilsner is a far cry from the mass produced "American Pilsners" produced by the biggest domestic brewers. The best examples have a clean, crisp flavor and refreshing, herbal, earthy bitterness. The dryness will contrast well with the sweetness from the caramelized brown sugar and the unique hop flavors match well with the chilies and garlic.

India brown ale is a relatively new beer style brewed by a few American microbreweries. It combines the strong bitterness and floral hop aromas of an India Pale ale with a rich, caramel like maltiness from the darker grains. The malt flavors will naturally pair well with the brown sugar and the darker chili peppers like the ancho. The fragrant hops and strong bitterness will compliment the spice and contrast with the rich, meat flavors in a way that will refresh the palate.

Suggested Commercial Examples:

German Pilsner - Victory Prima Pils, Brooklyn Pilsner (oddly enough, Americans make some of the best German Pilsners)

India Brown Ale - Terrapin India Brown Ale, Dogfish Head India Brown Ale

Timothy Bisson

Tried three beers with the dry rub brisket and found they all were compatible. Chimay’s Grande Reserve was the best match, though. Its slight sweetness and smooth dark fruit and malt flavors soaked in the brisket adding some foundation to the spices of the brisket. There was also a slight smokiness that came out of the Chimay which was unexpected and pleasant for the meal. The McEwan’s Scotch Ale is another great match. It’s a little sweeter and cleaner than the Chimay. It’s got a little more smoky character than the Chimay. The Scotch Ale’s caramel malt heart and lingering smoke character mingle confidently with the brisket’s robust beef and spice profile. A great combo as well. One key for enjoying both of these beers is that they must be served cool and not cold. Otherwise, the subtle flavors are muted.

I also tried the Schenkerla Maerzen, a Rauchbier, which is very smoky. The smoke flavor slightly overpowered the brisket. But, it added a new layer of flavor to complement the pepper and sweet flavors in the rub. It was good with the brisket but not as good as the other two.

Pork Ribs
The pork ribs and Spaten’s Oktoberfest were made for each other. First of all, the pork ribs and dry rub was my favorite meat and sauce combo. The brown sugar melted into the fat making the pork full of juicy sweetness. Kudos to Eric on the rub recipe. The sweet and spice were perfectly balanced and made the ribs sumptuous. The Oktoberfest has a spicy hop aroma with some biscuit and honey undertones. The malt flavors sink into the pork and fat like me into my favorite chair. The hop bitterness cuts through the fat and links up with the peppers and other spices in the rub in the finish and on my lips. The slight sweetness in the Oktoberfest ties the meat and fat flavors together with the spices and hop bitterness. This was an excellent pairing. Best thing is this beer is quite affordable and available all over the US. Another good Oktoberfest or Marzen that is widely available is made by Paulaner.

Beef Short Ribs
The dry rub on the beef ribs was tasty and added some good spices. Again, the brown sugar melted into the sinew adding complexity to the ribs. For this, we had Rogue’s Shakespeare Stout. This classic American Stout is bold and full of confidence just like the guy on the bottle. It’s also full bodied and robust; and that is what the ribs needed. The beef was very flavorful and full bodied. The beer and beef stood up to other nicely in the body and mouthfeel. Also, the spices in the rub were unique to the ribs as were the roasty and smoky character to the stout. These played like old friends as I got some sweetness and heat from the rub followed by the roasted malt and then lingering spices in the finish. I kept tasting the two and wishing for more. Try Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout if you are in the Midwest as an alternate. But, I think Rogue is widely available.

Chicken Breasts
Ahhh, the dry rub comes through again. The paprika, black pepper and chili powder of the rub come out hot and looking for a fight. You can tell this charred and smoky chicken ain’t one of its own kind. It’s juicy and full of a myriad of flavors. This needs one of two kind beers; a beer that cleans the palate and blends in or a beer that stands up to the feisty fowl and throws a punch of its own. I found one for each category. Flying Dog’s Old Scratch Amber Lager is a well balanced session beer with a finishing malt character that blends brilliantly with the chicken’s sweet juices. It washes the mouth leaving it ready for more spicy grilled chicken. Schenkerla’s Rauch Ur- Bock’s intense smoky flavor grabs onto the char of the chicken and extends the smoky flavor without missing a beat. It also has a clean dark malt sweetness holding the down the fort with the chicken. This beer goes twelve rounds with the chicken and comes out on top. But it’s a split decision. A great pairing.

Amber Lager substitute: Sam Adams Boston Lager
Rauch Ur-Bock substitute: None widely available but Schenkerla widely available in better beers stores


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Tuesday, February 19, 2008

PAIRINGS: BBQ & Beer pt 3

BBQ and Beer

This is the third in our series of articles on BBQ and Beer pairings. Today we will be concentrating on what goes well with a classic white sauce. Again, we are indebted to our beer experts Timothy Bisson and Michael Payne for their acumen and willingness to lend a hand.

Alabama White Sauce

1 cup mayonaise
1 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Mix ingredients together and refrigerate for at
least 8 hours before using.

Michael Payne:

Styles - Lambic, Flanders Red.

This is a real challenge to match as it is a unusual and idiosyncratic style of BBQ sauce. Since this sauce is so different from most, I recommend going with an unusual beer as well. Both Lambics and Flemish Red beers have the acidity to stand up to a sauce with all the vinegar that we find in the Alabama white sauce.

Lambics are a very old Belgian style of beer. They are produces by a handful of dedicated artisanal brewers near Brussels. They have a strong acidity can easily match the vinegar in the sauce as well as earthy, peppery notes to match the pepper, spice and citrus.

Flemish Red beers are a similar but distinctly different style of Belgian beer. These beers have a similar acidity to lambics as well as the earthy funkiness, but they also have a subtle, malty sweetness that can help refresh the palate when dealing with something acidic like the Alabama Red sauce.

Suggested Commercial Examples:

Lambic - Lindemans Cuvee Rene, Cantillon Gueuze (avoid sweetened lambics such as LIndemans fruit lambics as they tend to be cloyingly sweet and artificial tasting).

Flemish Red - Rodenbach Grand Cru, Duchesse De Bourgogne.

Timothy Bisson

This was a tough one. The white sauce is thin in consistency but brings a lot of pepper and acidity balanced by some sweetness and tang in the mayonnaise. The brisket is full of robust flavor and mouthfeel. Hmmm. Well a beer that fits this bill is Guinness Draught Stout. The beers’ and sauces’ slight sourness and light mouthfeel gave them some common ground to meet and sniff each other out. The peppery flavor in the sauce liked what it saw in the roastiness of the Stout and the party started. As the Guinness warms its full flavor comes out. This is key. The roastiness nestles into the brisket adding complexity to the tender but textured meat. The Guinness cleans the palate while enjoying commonality with the sauce. The meat tangoed with the Stout and the sauce allowing each to lead but not getting pushed over at all.

Alternate brew: If you can’t find Guinness, crawl from under the rock you live and ask anyone who breathes fresh air where to find it.

Pork Ribs
Ahh, this Alabama White sauce is a noodle scratcher. But, I’ve got two brews that will add complexity and balance to it. The white sauce is acidic from the vinegar with some sweetness and creaminess from the mayo and finishes with layers of black and cayenne pepper. The ribs bring some fat and a lovely meaty texture.

The Dupont Moinette Brune is a Strong Dark Belgian Ale made by a brewery famous for Saison Dupont. And it’s great with the Pork Ribs and White sauce. The beer is slightly sour with mild cherry flavors, chocolate and caramel balanced by hop bitterness. It’s a beer that will go well with lots of dark or BBQ’d meats. The beer’s sourness finds harmony with the sauce and the malt flavors blend well with the meat. This beer is hard to find in some places and might not be up everyone’s alley,

But, Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter is widely available and if you like craft beer it should be up your alley. For both the Pork and Beef Ribs this is a fun excellent pairing. Its sweetness matches the sauce. The acidity of the sauce is cleaned out by the full mouth feel and body in the porter. Also, the roast character adds another layer of flavor to the ribs. Taddy Porter’s molasses qualities enhance the meat’s flavors. It’s a great beer for any BBQ dish.

Beef Ribs
The beef ribs and the sauce bring quite different flavors to the table. The ribs are bold with earthy qualities. The sauce is peppery and acidic with some creaminess for balance. As stated in the Pork Ribs review above, Samuel Smith’s Taddy Porter smooth, roasty full character dovetails splendidly with Beef Ribs.

But for the more adventurous type, try a Flemish Red Ale, particularly Verhaeghe’s Vichtenaar. I know. It’s a mouth full and I don’t even know how to say it. But Flemish Red’s are sour and so is the sauce. Sour in a good way. The sourness in the beer and sauce match which allows the Flemish Red’s cherry and wood flavors to dive into the tender but rich beef flavors. The sauce adds some peppery spice and a slight creaminess that pulls everything together. This is a great pairing where the food and beer find a commonplace in the acidity and use that to beautifully express themselves. Give it a try!

Chicken Breasts
The chicken breasts with the White Sauce is great. The sauce seems less sour and the black and cayenne pepper comes out more fully in the chicken. Two beers did well with the chicken. First, Belhaven’s Scottish Ale has a mild dark malt character which links up with the char of the bird. There is a slight tart ting in the finish of the Scottish Ale that finds harmony with the sauce’s cider vinegar. This nitrogenated silky quaffable is like a side of creamy mashed potatoes next to your favorite steak. It’s there to complement the meat and add something creamy to help wash it down. It happily blends right in.

Second, try Verhaeghe’s Vichtenaar Flemish Red Ale. Its strong acidity finds a home with the vinegar in the sauce. With the chicken, there is a wonderful sweet and sour combinations going on. The dark fruit and malt sweetness of the beer dive into the lactic and acetic acids of the beer and sauce. The peppers also are tamed and blended with the cherry flavors from the beer. It’s a complex offering that enlivens and delights the tastebuds. Again, this beer is not readily available and is for the adventurous.

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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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Tuesday, February 5, 2008

RECIPE: Beer & BBQ Pairings

BBQ & Beer Pairings

The recipes are from Look for an upcoming interview with’s resident BBQ expert, Derrick Riches.

Mustard Sauce

1 cup jarred mustard
1 tablespoon (roughly) fresh chopped garlic
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 tablespoon oil
1/4 teaspoon powdered oregano
1/4 teaspoon powdered thyme
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

Combine dry ingredients in a saucepan. Add enough
vinegar to make a mixable paste. Mix well. Place
over high heat and add remaining ingredients.
Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and
simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Michael Payne

Styles - Saison

I like to think of Saison as the swiss army knife of beer. It is a rustic, Belgian farmhouse ale with spicy, peppery flavors and refreshing hop bitterness. Many brewers add various spices to the beer as well to increase the complexity. This style can pair well with virtually any food, but it has a special affinity for spicy acidic foods like this mustard sauce.

The mustard, herbs, and cayenne are easily matched by the complex, herb and spice characteristics of this beer style. While saisons are not sour beers, they do have a characteristic, refreshing tartness that matches the vinegar in the sauce and easily allows the beer to cut through the fat in whatever type of meat you put this sauce on.

Suggested Commercial Examples - Saison Dupont (classic hoppy saison), Fantome (excellent, creatively spiced saison)

Timothy Bisson

Pork Ribs

The Westmalle Dubbel and the pork ribs were great together. The sweetness in each met on common ground. The Dubbel added dark fruit (cherry and plum) flavors which melded nicely with the smoky, mustard flavor from the sauce. The fat and meat absorbed the sauce and beer very well to create happiness in my mouth.

Westmalle is a wonderful but pricy Dubbel. So on the East Coast you could get Allagash Dubbel and on the West Coast try North Coast’s Brother Thelonius.

I also tried Full Sail Amber with this but the ribs overpowered the malt and hops and only left a residual alcohol flavor behind.

Beef Short Ribs
Deschutes Black Butte Porter and the Beef Ribs were wonderful. Black Butte has some roasted malt, chocolate and smoky flavors. The mild smokiness came out for this pair and frolicked with the molasses, mustard and spices in the sauce. The robust beef flavors complemented the hop bitterness and other malt flavors exquisitely. A very tasty pairing indeed. If Black Butte is not available in your area, Sierra Nevada Porter or Stone’s Smoked Porter would pair well too.

I also tried Stone’s 11th Anniversary with the Beef Ribs. This beer is 8.7% ABV and full of hop aroma and bitterness. The hop bitterness and alcohol bowled over the tasty beef and BBQ sauce. Great brew but too big for the ribs.

Chicken Breast

The Grilled Chicken breast with the mustard sauce was great. The char on the meat flowed seamlessly into the sauce’s sweetness as did the Full Sail Amber. The caramel flavor from the malt wrapped itself tightly around the char of the chicken and the molasses in the sauce. The hop bitterness and the piny, citrusy hop flavor added complexity to the meal without detracting from the great BBQ flavor. Any hoppy American Amber will work with this sauce and chicken.

I’d also recommend American Brown Ale for this delicious dish. Bell’s Best Brown or Avery’s Ellie Brown would be at home comfortably. These Browns have some roasted and chocolate malt flavors that’ll gladly hold hands with the char and molasses while the hops dance pleasantly with the mustard.

I also tried the Ommegang Hennepin Saison with this. It was too citrusy of a saison to go well. It’s a great beer but an earthy saison would be needed for the smoke and dark sweetness the chicken brings.

The Rogue Dead Guy Ale did nicely with the brisket smothered in the mustard sauce. The Dead Guy Ale is a Maibock style with some peach flavors in the finish. The sweetness in the Dead Guy matched the honey and molasses sweetness left in the brisket. The peach finish added some good complexity to the tender and mustardy brisket. I think a more traditional Maibock like Einbecker Ur Mai Bock or a Traditional Bock like Aass Bock would do well with this dish too. It just needs to have a mildly sweet finish and not be overly hopped.

I also tried Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale and Ommegang’s Hennepin with this. The Celebration, an American IPA, was way too bitter and did not blend with or complement the flavors of the brisket. The Hennepin, a saison, was good with the brisket but it was great with the grilled zucchini that was served to accompany the brisket. The zucchini helped clean the palate between brisket bites and the Hennepin added some zest.

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