Beer and Fried Chicken

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.

And I mean 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.

This is the first time I ever butchered anything.

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.

At least one piece didn’t get totally “butchered.”

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.

A mixture of kosher salt, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper.

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.

Starting to look delicious.

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.

Almost done, I can’t wait.

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.

Hemp in a Beer?

We take a complete 180 from where we were before. Up until now I’ve talked about a few more traditional European beers. Now we travel to the US, where things are a little … different. Oh sure, there are breweries that attempt authentic recreations of traditional old world styles, but Americans are more brash, more individualist, and less culturally conservative, and it really shows in the beer. The late English Beer and Whiskey writer Michael Jackson (no relation to the singer) would surprise European audiences by saying that American Beer was the best place in the world for beer.

Hemp, and Hop, and Rye oh my.

Take this Beer. There are two two ingredients that are not very common in a beer. The first is rye, which has been added to beer at various times throughout history. Largely when barely was too expensive. It is actually my favorite adjunct. It lends a real spiciness to a beer, that you just don’t really get from any other grain ingredient.

The many uses for Hemp.

Hemp you say? Like Marijuana? Am I going to get high drinking this beer? Well, no. Hemp generally has a THC content less than %1. It is like drinking non-alcoholic beer. Besides, hemp is extremely good for you. And guess what certain flowering plant is closely related to cannabis? That’s right, Hops are part of the Cannabaceae family. In fact, hops them self have nice calming affect when drunk as a hop tea (don’t eat hops unless you like to hug your toilet).

Now to the Beer, O’fallons Hemp Hop Rye. O’fallon’s is a brewery in Missouri that also makes the 5 -day IPA. So-called, because they dry hop for 5 days, although I personally think it drinks more like a Pale Ale than an IPA.

The Hemp Hop Rye is an American Amber Ale which is most noticeable due to the addition of Hemp and Rye to the mix.


The Aroma is similar to other American Ambers, with some maltiness in addition to the citrus flavors from the hops.


A hazy brown color. The head is an off-white, and as you can see from the picture, it has massive head retention.


The taste is spicy fruit cake like. The spice from the rye and the citrus from the hops. It tastes sweet up front, but has a good level of balancing bitterness on the back end. The hemp brings a good roundness to the beer.


Medium body, with a good amount of carbonation.


This is actually one of my favorite beers. I already tend to really like rye beers, but I think this is probably the best one I’ve had.  It is very drinkable, but definitely not forgettable. I’m not too sure how much the hemp adds to the beer, but maybe it adds more than I realize judging by how much I like this.