Beer and Food Pairing: Charkoota Rye and Molasses Coffee Marinated Pork Chops

I’ve wanted to try something new with pork chops. Mostly it has been brine, brine, and more brine, then grill. During my Good Eats watching, I saw him make a marinade application for pork chops that uses molasses.  That is good since I have molasses for the ginger snap cookies I made several years ago, and… nothing else. I mean, what do you ever use molasses for anyway?

I’ve had the New Holland Charkoota Rye Smoked Dopplebock since I recapped it after drinking half of the bottle during lent. The New Holland website is all about pairing this with pork, so I figured why not. I wasn’t sure the beer would will still be good, since the head space was now filled with oxygenating air instead of a barrier of CO2, but it seems to have done alright.

The Pork was a no brainer. It was almost like somebody designed the beer to go with this pork. The pork takes on a bit of smokiness, although not as much as with a proper barbecue. The beer takes your backyard grilled pork chop and adds the flavor of a nicely smoked pulled pork sandwich, with a tad bit more charring. The malt sweetness  of the beer mingled very nicely with the molasses and coffee flavors of the pork. I wouldn’t be surprised if there was a second date between all the flavors.

The rice took on a lot of the flavors and sweetness of the reduction sauce made from the pork marinade. Brown rice generally has a pretty nutty flavor, and with the sauce it became almost like a nutty winter treat. Pairing it with the beer brought you right back to the middle of summer with campfires and Independence Day grill fests. It was kind of like Christmas in July.

I also had lemon glazed kale. I have never had kale, but it is a more hearty green than something like romaine, red leaf, or the other leafy greens generally used for salads. My theory was that it could therefore stand up to a more substantial beer than the Weiss and witbiers a salad would best with. I’m not sure it would have worked out so well if it  didn’t have that lemon honey glaze. It also had a pretty good kick from the red peppers and garlic, and I most definitely over salted it. In light of the over salting, the beer was a life (food) savor, as the sweet malt flavor blunted the saltiness of the kale.  If you remember from my last post on the beer, it has a very smoke forward taste and aroma, which I think at times is overpowering. The lemon glaze cut through the smokiness of the beer.  The kale turned out decently sweet as well from the lemon glaze. There was, quite frankly, a lot of competing flavors in the kale, and the beer did its job of bringing them all together.  I can’t really see the beer going with very many leafy greens, but if you cooked them with strong flavors like I did, then you might be good to go.

All in all, it was a pretty good meal. After I sent the dog away I was finally able to enjoy its full gastronomic potential, where the food and the beer became greater than the sum-total of their parts.

Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock Lager

During the  mid 17th century, Paulenar monks outside of Munich Gemany where looking for something to get them through the many times of the year they were required to fast. For the monks, this was no easy feat. When they fasted, the monks were allowed almost no solid foods. This could become particularly hard during the longest period of  fasting, which was of course the Lenten season -about 46 days. The monks believed liquid was more pure and would cleanse not only the body, but the soul.

They don’t call beer, liquid bread for nothing, but to subsist only on beer requires something a little more substantial than your everyday light drinking beer. The monks took a style of beer from their neighbors to the north in the town of Einbeck and increased the strength as to be sustaining.  Eventually they converted the beer to the more modern lager process in Germany and increased the strength until we got the beer that you can still find at your local liquor store called Salvator in the late 18th century. This became the style know as doppelbock or double bock.

Was drinking this very strong and tasty beer cheating for lent? That’s the exact question the monks asked themselves, so they sought to get permission from the pope himself and sent a barrel of the beer so the pope could try it and decide once and for all. Luckily for the monks, during the journey south, the beer was exposed to a lot of heat and sloshing, which basically soured the beer and made it undrinkable (not that all sour beer is bad of course). The Pope’s reasoning was that since the brew was so vile, it was probably beneficial for the souls of the Munich monks, and they should drink as much as they could.

Once the secret of these great beer got out, other breweries started making their own versions of doppelbock, and most of them paid homage to the original by appending –ator on the end of the beers name. This is true in the case of Ayinger Celebrator, Spaten Optimator, and Tucher Bajuvator, The beer we are looking at today is not one of these. It is an entirely American version of the doppel bock style, and it includes both Rye and a smokey profile.

This is the first smoked beer I have talked about. Before more modern methods of malting barley, most barley was malted using wood or peat kilns. Only desert dwelling people had enough sun to dry the malt without requiring a smoky fire. This necessitated certain smokiness in each beer. From earlier writings,  it is pretty clear that brewers considered the smokiness a bad quality and did everything they could to limit it, and when newer kilning methods were developed maltsters were quick to change over. There were a few holdouts in German Marzen (Oktoberfest) style and the Polish Grodzisk, but virtually all smoked versions or styles died out by modern times.

This  is of course until the Americans started to brew good beer again in the last few decades. With no real beer tradition anymore, we were free from all social and cultural pressures to stick to certain styles like the Germans and to a lesser extent even the English.  With nobody being alive from the last time smoked beers were common place, there was no longer any stigma to having a smoky flavor profile in a beer, and a small by wide niche of smoked beers have emerged. One of them in New Hollands Charkoota Rye Smoked Doppelbock Lager. A celebration of all things Pig (as you can see from the label), especially Charcuterie. Charcuterie is branch of cooking devoted to prepared meats like bacon, ham, sausage, terrines, galantines, pates, and confit.  Which of course is a very German idea, and fits into the idea of Doppelbock pretty well. Of course, instead of replacing solid food with the beer, the beer is intended to complement all things pork.

According to my bottle (but not the website), this beer is 8.4% ABV, and has a gravity of 21 plato, which is an astounding original gravity of 1.087.

Aroma
When you smell this you are basically smelling smoked malt and nothing else. Kind of surprising if you’ve never smelled something like this before.

Appearance
Very dark brown, almost black. It has a large brownish white head.

Tatse
A large amount of smoke taste up front, with a smooth malt behind. It is almost a struggle between the smokiness and the maltiness.  One second I’m tasting smoke and then the next I’m tasting malt, but never really at the same time.

Mouthfeel
Heavy body, but surprisingly smooth.

Overall Impression
This kind of surprised me at the amount of smoke that hits you when you smell and then taste it. Not really having had other smoked beers, I can’t compare the smokiness level. It is a good smooth beer, and would go great with cured sausages and pulled pork, or anything made by real BBQ. The alcohol will definitely sneak up on you with this beer.