Tonight I find myself digging through the fridge searching for ingredients to fashion up a meal for my wife and me. As I rummaged through the crisper I discovered an eggplant and knew exactly what to make. My wife loves eggplant dishes, so I knew she would be excited with tonight’s meal. Open-faced eggplant sandwiches with marinara would be the fare for the evening. This meal is quite simple and involves very little preparation. I myself like to make my own marinara sauce, which is simply tomato puree with a proper blend of spices, but you can always go the premade sauce route.

As always, a beer is nearby to compliment my dinner. Tonight I dug around until I settled on Achouffe Houblan Dobbelen IPA Tripel. A Belgian style IPA, which is far unlike any IPA I’ve ever tried. I’m so used to the American version of IPA, that this one took me by surprise. There was so much more happening in this beer than just hops to the extreme, which seems to be the trend at the moment with American Craft Beer. Dobbelen IPA possesses a wonderful bready, biscuity flavor underneath the hops and abundant spice flavorings from the yeast. These qualities made it a perfect match for tonight’s dinner.

First of all, the beer is absolutely gorgeous when poured out into a Tulip glass, with it’s huge billowing white head. The lacing on the glass is so delicate and abudant, it really just begs to be drank. The nose is citrusy and spicy from the Belgian yeast, while the body is noticeably heavier than most IPA’s. Fantastic! The spicy notes from the yeast dovetailed with spices that I used to create the marinara sauce. An abundant hop bitterness cut the heavy flavors and contrasted the sweet flavors of the marinara sauce. Sounds great so far, right? The subtle biscuity, bready malt flavor lined up perfectly with the Italian bread the eggplant was served on. Absolutely superb!

Houblan Chouffe could also match up well with many other Italian influenced meals. You could easily pair this beer with Spaghetti and Meatballs, allowing the hops to cut the fatty meat flavors and link nicely with the spices in the sauce. Put it up against Lasagna or Gnochi dishes that are laden with spices and heavy palate coating flavors. I know I will definitely start keeping a lot more Houblan Chouffe in my cellar, and would recommend that anyone keep a few bottles around for meals such as this.

beer + food = Barleydine



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