Usually this Blog is all about beer, but we can’t forget the food, for without the other half of the meal are we really enjoying the gastronomical experience to its fullest? This weekend I pan-fried my first chicken completely from scratch.
When sitting down to a meal, you might want to take a moment to think about what kind of beer you are going to drink with the food at hand.
Think about the flavors in the food and the flavors in the beer. If you’ve been a loyal reader of this blog, you have some idea of the great complexity of flavors that can be found in different kinds of beers. And if you’re a loyal eater of food, I’m sure you know the great complexity of the flavors that can been found therein.
In his book Tasting Beer, Randy Mosher suggests that in matching your flavors between the beer and the food, you either want to try to compliment the different flavors or contrast them.
For instance, he suggests that if you are eating something spicy that you go for a beer that doesn’t have a lot of bitterness, as bitterness will enhance the spiciness. So instead of the IPA, reach for the porter that will balance out the spiciness of the dish.
On the other hand, Garret Oliver, in his book The Brewmasters Table, suggests pairing a pale ale or IPA with a spicy mexican dish. Not only will the hops play off the spiciness, but the bright citrus character of American hops like Cascade or Chinook, will find no better friend than the lime and cilantro flavors found in the kind of Mexican dishes I get around here. It also goes to show you that people have different tastes, and the best way to figure out what pairs good for you is to experiment. A tough experiment indeed.
I chose to pair the fried Chicken with O’Fallon’s Hemp Hop Rye. It’s an amber ale, so the mildly roasted malts play nicely with the tasty fried bits of the chicken. The rye adds a certain spiciness to the beer. The fried chicken gets a bit of a kick from the cayenne, garlic, and paprika. A match made in heaven? I think so. And of course, it has a bit of a bitterness from the hops. I tend to favor Oliver’s theory on hops and spice. Give me spiciness all day long and I am a happy fellow.
An unexpected plus came with the last-minute recipe for the artichoke dip. It was a tangy heavy kind of mayonnaise dip. The brighter flavors of the beer cut through the heaviness of the mayonnaise, and the dark flavors from the amber maltiness was able to temper the tangy flavors of the dipping sauce. It was just one of those little surprises you get from fully enjoying the gastronomic experience.