Posts Tagged 'beer pairing'

2008 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout and a Diamondback Robusto

Aren't they just dreamy?

When I’m not stuffing my face with rich, decadent foods alongside drinking a rich, decadent beer, you can find me enjoying a nice cigar…. and drinking a rich, decadent beer (Let’s be honest, I drink every chance I get). As is the case with food, I find beer pairs better with cigars than a nice brandy, porto, or what have you. Beers can be manipulated in ways that liquors and wines can not be. The flavor profiles and varieties of beers are innumerable, and, as much as I enjoy a good bourbon or Bordeaux, there’s only so much you can do to change the taste of liquor and wine. The same is the case with cigars, in terms of manipulation of flavor profile. There are so many types of tobaccos that have the ability to have their tastes changed with slight manipulations. The pairing of the two together is just common sense.

That being said, you can not just throw any beer and any cigar together. As is the case with pairing liquors with cigars, match like qualities with like qualities. You do not want to pair a nice robusto with pale ale. Likewise, it would be equally disastrous pairing a big English barleywine with a mild cigar. Match them flavor for flavor. An stout would not serve well when paired with a cigar whose profile is a bit more on the citrusy and light side. As I said, the pairings are common sense, but think before pairing. If you happen to be more knowledgeable about one and less about the other, as a beer connoisseur or cigar aficionado about the flavor profiles of either/or…. or you could just follow Barleydine.com and ask us (hint, hint).

Well finally, onto the pairing. I lucked out at one of my local beer stops when a buddy of mine who works there told me about a shipment of fairly rare Goose Island beers that had just come in. Naturally, after hearing they had the 2008 version of their Bourbon County Brand Stout in said shipment, I bought as many as was allowed. I knew that this would be the perfect beer to pair with a cigar…
… which cigar though? Now, due to the flavor profile and high %ABV of the BCBS, I knew I wanted a robust cigar that had a creamy, sweet yet spicy taste. Nicaraguan tobacco is known to have a flavor profile such as this, so I set out to look for the perfect smoke to match. At my local smoke shop, I came across a fairly inexpensive, yet interesting smelling cigar. The Diamondback Robusto, a cigar made with Nicaraguan tobacco, has the words “Dulce Humo” on the wrapper, which translates to sweet smoke. A whiff gave me just what I was looking for; a bit of a sweet, yet peppery and oaky smell. I knew this would pair well with the BCBS.
Back at home, a pop of the top, a light of the smoke, and I was in heaven. The beer itself was divine. A nice, velvety smooth vanilla flavor came through first. Not a sticky sweet cloying vanilla that you get sometimes from vanilla bean aged stouts, but a subtle, yet powerful vanilla that comes from oak aging. Big chocolate flavors play with a much more subdued, yet perfectly balanced, bourbon sweetness. This beer is rich, smooth, and nearly perfect. I did not want the first sip to end. A puff of the cigar put me in even more of a subliminal state. A nice peppery taste, followed by nutmeg and cinnamon, were the first on the palate. After they subdued, a nice creamy vanilla, akin to the one tasted in the beer, came through. As I pushed the smoke to the the roof of my mouth, a sweet toffee flavor began to rear it’s head. Going back and forth between the two enhanced the flavors of each, as well as bringing more subdued notes out. The Bourbon County began giving off slight coffee flavors, not bitter coffee, but a nice, creamy mocha. A bit of a paprika note was tasted in the cigar, as well.
This was a fine pairing, one I did not want to end. When the beer and smoke was done, I was forced back to earth to rejoin reality.

Advertisements

Pliny The Elder and IPA Biscuits and Gravy

Pure Joy and Happiness

Two of my favorite things coming together as one. It just doesn’t get any better than this. Well, a cigar wouldn’t hurt, but I’m not complaining. I’m all about comfort food. Everyone loves it.  If you don’t, you’re a liar. I’m also all about IPA’s. It’s my personal favorite style of beer and can come in many different colors. The bitter citrus, the sweet malt, the hop bite; what’s there not to love? As it turns out, it goes very well with a lot of foods, too. So, I decided to mash the two together and do a pairing with them with the added bonus of instructions on how to make the dish yourself because what fun is it if you can’t eat this yourself?
Now, I was born and raised in New York, so biscuits and gravy is a dish that I didn’t grow up with. I think that’s one of the reasons why I love it so much; all the wasted years not eating it. However, me being me, plain old biscuits and gravy aren’t good enough to do a pairing with. I had to kick it up a bit…..
…. And what better way to do that than to add beer to the recipe?  Better yet, why not add an IPA? Great idea, I know. When people heard about this, they thought I added the beer to the gravy when in actuality, I added it to the biscuit dough. The recipe for that dough is as follows….

4 cups white flour
1 and 1/2 sticks of butter (softened at room temperature)
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 12 ounce can or bottle of IPA of your choosing

Standard biscuit making procedure follows. Sift the dry ingredients together, cut the butter into the dry ingredients, pour the beer into the mixture and form into a dough. The product should look like this…..

… Attractive, I know. Now form into biscuits, whatever size you feel is appropriate, and bake in the oven at 425 degrees for 15-20 minutes, and voila.
Onto the gravy. Now, I’m a carnivore, but my girlfriend is a vegetarian (unfortunately), so I had to make a vegetarian gravy to top the biscuits with, which is okay because it makes the cooking a bit easier. The ingredients for the gravy are…

1 medium to large onion
1 clove of garlic
1 stick of butter
1/2 cup of flour
Broth or soup of your choosing
Rosemary, cumin, salt, and cayenne powder to taste

Start by finely dicing the onion and garlic and caramelizing them in a sauce pan. After they’re nice and sweet, add the butter and flour to make a roux. This is where I add my seasonings. I wanted to add just enough cayenne to get a bit of a smoky and spicy flavor on the mid palate, but not enough to make it hot. The rosemary is added just because it goes fantastically with IPAs. Finally, add your broth until it is at the consistency of your liking.

Finished Gravy. Another Attractive, Yet Delicious, Sight.

Now top and enjoy with your favorite IPA.
Finally, onto the pairing.
I chose Pliny the Elder because, well, it’s Pliny the Elder. First bite of the biscuit gives off a very velvety, creamy texture with a nice crust, that is suddenly brought to a halt by a sweet maltiness and hop bitterness, but not like you would find in a beer. It’s very subtle, but enough to give the biscuits a little something they were missing, as they would’ve been kind of “one note” before. Mixing with the gravy brings a whole new level. There’s a creamy, sweetness from the onions, bit of heat and smokiness on the middle of the tongue and a nice earthy, herbal note throughout. Now, the trifecta. The Pliny cuts through the fatty, creaminess from the butter and flour nicely. It melds very well with the heat given off by the cayenne. It doesn’t subdue it’s flavor, just the heat a bit, allowing you to taste the actual flavor of the cayenne and not just the heat. It helps bring forth a nice smoky, earthy, and floral flavor that was hidden before. It plays nicely with the rosemary. The marriage of the two helps bring forth more piney flavors from both the rosemary and the Pliny. It helps add a nice clean finish to a very rich and heavy meal and helps lighten the palate. The hop bitterness, citrus flavors, and malt of the Pliny also add another dimension of flavor to the biscuits and meld very nicely with the sweet onion flavor.
This was verging on perfect. Cheap, easy to make, and an absolutely delicious pairing. I can die happy now.

Max’s Belgian Beer Festival

If you had walked into Max’s Taphouse this past Thursday, you might have been sorely disappointed. The world-famous Charm City bar that otherwise boasts 140 rotating drafts and 1200 bottles had no drafts available and a limited bottle selection. Though it sounds like a dismal scene, Max’s was taking these measures to prepare for one of their biggest annual events—The Belgian Beer Festival. A 3-day event, the festival offers the largest selection of Belgian beer in the US—over 100 Belgian drafts and 200 bottles. In addition, the food menu that is otherwise saturated with gastro-pub fare experiences a Belgian makeover. Here at BarleyDine we know that nothing goes together like beer and food!

Beer lovers lined up for a taste of Belgium

I arrived at the festival on Saturday afternoon, eager to tear into some Belgian pints and plates. Not surprisingly, the line was out the door, though moving steadily. In speaking to those that had attended the event previously, we learned that we were in for a “nut-to-butt” situation once we were inside. Yes, nut-to-butt, because shoulder-to-shoulder really does not serve to describe how uncomfortably crowded it was. But that’s all part of the fun, right? Pro-tip: Go with a partner, that way you can take turns fetching beer and grub without compromising the precious couple inches of flat surface (barstool, windowsill, banaster, etc.) you managed to stake out.

See what I mean?

The food menu offered moules (mussels) prepared three different ways, a cheese plate, a meat plate, a couple salads, and a few sandwiches. I’m admittedly a shellfish lover, so I decided to start with the Moules Grand-Mère. The mussels are presented in a creamy beer sauce with bacon and in this case the beer was a framboise, which I thought was a very interesting choice. I paired this with Lindemans framboise lambic and it made for a lovely appetizer!

Moule Grand-Mère and Lindemans Framboise

Lindemans framboise is heavily carbonated and has loads of wonderful raspberry tartness, which gives it a champagne quality. It’s very drinkable with an ABV of only about 3%. The salty, smoky, crunchy bacon offset the sweet, creamy mussels really nicely. Though the raspberry is very forthright in this lambic, it was an unobtrusive compliment to the mussels and it brought out the framboise in the sauce that might have been too subtle to notice on its own.

Endive Salad with Barbãr

Later in the day I went for one of the salads—a Belgian endive salad with honey goat cheese, green apples, walnuts, and citrus vinaigrette. I paired this with Barbãr (a Belgian Honey Ale) by Brasserie Lefèbvre. This was a treat! The ale had a spicy citrus and coriander character at first, but the last note was of pure honey sweetness. The bitter endives and tart apples were nicely contrasted with the sweetness of this ale, while the honey in the goat cheese was able to shine through. Absolutely delightful! I can’t imagine a better pairing for this salad.

Other notables:  Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch on cask, Stillwater/Emelisse Collaboration Holland Oats, an amber ale with apples and oats—surprisingly hoppy with a strong apple cider flavor. I talked to several people who were excited to see so many sours on the menu, so if sours are your thing, don’t miss this festival next year!

Max's bartenders were hard at work all weekend.

If you get a chance to visit Max’s, I would highly recommend it. They have beers you never even knew you wanted to try. They also host a German beer festival in the fall that I’m sure will not disappoint. Cheers!


Barleydine

Error: Twitter did not respond. Please wait a few minutes and refresh this page.

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 16 other followers

Categories