Mex-American food is without a doubt my favorite style of cuisine. These dishes really are a celebration with bright, vibrant colors and flavors. Pairing beer with these dishes is quite remarkable. You can either compliment or contrast the flavors of the food with either a bright hoppy beer, or a darker sweet brew respectively. I prefer the bright and hoppy flavors in a beer because of the complimentary characteristics it imparts on the flavors in this type of dish.

Tonight I whipped up a Taco Salad, which happens to be a favorite of my wife’s. Fresh produce and sauteed chicken atop greens in a fajita bowl created the base for this amazing salad. From there I garnished it with cheese, sour cream, salsa and avocado. There were so many flavors happening here, from the seasoned chicken, to the fresh avocado and salsa. It was quite obvious to me what style of beer would compliment such a fine salad. Bells Two Hearted Ale is what I emerged from the beer cellar with. What an absolutely marvelous IPA! The aroma is so pungent and full of floral scents. These aromas follow right into the flavor which is full of hop bitterness, yet well balanced by the sweetness of the malt. It is a fantastic rendition of the American IPA style; time and meticulous craftsmanship is very evident in this beer.

All the wonderful flavors of Two Hearted Ale link up very well to the salad it was paired with. The floral notes in the aroma complimented the natural characteristics of the salad, while the hops intensified the heat of the peppers and salsa. The hops not only played with the dish’s heat, but also worked wonderfully to cut the heaviness of the cheese and avocado. There was just enough malt sweetness to link up well with sweet vegetable flavors and caramelized meats. In addition, the biscuity flavor from the malts matched well with the toasted fajita bowl. The sweetness of the malt contrasted the heat and spiciness of the dish. This certainly is not for those of you with weak taste buds that shudder at the introduction to spicy heat.

beer + food = Barleydine


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