A Birthday Beer and Food Pairing

For my girlfriend’s birthday I decided to combine two of our passions, beer and food, for a unique gift idea. This 3-course meal didn’t have a particular theme by any means but was more of an experiment to test some of my own pairing abilities. I’m new to the pairing game and I think for my first shot at a multiple course meal, it turned out well. This particular review isn’t as detailed as I hope future ones will be because after all, it was her birthday and I was trying to pay a bit more attention to her.

Wisconsin Belgian Red with Chocolate Truffles for Dessert

Bacon-wrapped Pineapple
Middle Ages Swallow Wit

Like most men, and many women, I’d say I’m a sucker for bacon. Morning, noon, and night, it’s always a hit. For this appetizer I decided that adding pineapple to the mix would be a unique way of contrasting the two flavors together; the pineapple sweetness contrasting the saltiness of the bacon. For a few extra style points I sprinkled some brown sugar on the bacon to add to the sweetness of the fruit.

Middle Ages Wit made sense to me because it has a very clean and neutral taste. There is a moderate level of sweetness but overall I was looking for a beer that wouldn’t clash with the already contrasting flavor of our hors d’oeuvres and really showcase the food.

Note: This course turned out the best in our opinion.

BBQ Salmon
Great Divide Grand Cru

Instead of running with a regular chicken or beef, salmon seemed like a good way to put a twist on the BBQ style I wanted for an entrée. Plus, it was a little cold to pull out the grill, so instead of shooting for a classic BBQ dish inside, I figured why not try something new. I marinated two cuts of salmon in original Dinosaur BBQ sauce for an hour, cooked them in a frying pan, and dashed on some soy sauce for some oriental flavor.

My goal was to make this course very filling. I wanted it to give us an “I’m almost too full for dessert” feeling, which is actually part of the reason I chose the Grand Cru. Apart from simply being one of my favorite styles, Grand Cru is a bit more rich and full bodied than most brews. The sweetness did play very well with the BBQ sauce, giving it a great compliment from dish to glass. However, the richness of the beer didn’t quite go as well as I’d hoped with the general taste and consistency of the salmon. This beer seems more appropriate for a traditional hardy BBQ dish (like one of the ones I avoided.) Oops.

Dark Chocolate Truffles
New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red

I’d like to point out that these truffles were handmade by yours truly. I do have to admit that they were a bit messy to make but well worth the trouble. The truffles were very rich and dark. I rolled a few in a pepper infused cocoa powder for a little extra kick.

New Glarus Wisconsin Belgian Red is another favorite and actually very hard to find. Luckily I had a friend who had a few extra bottles lying around for this special occasion. (Thanks again!) This beer is thin, sweet, and loaded with cherry flavor. It has more of a wine or juice quality to those of you not accustomed to the style.

Sadly this pairing didn’t go as well as I had hoped. While both the truffles and New Glarus were delicious on there own, they did not seem to mesh particularly well. The beer was almost too sweet in comparison to the very dark chocolate. I was trying to contrast the flavors and in the end the gap was a bit too wide for my tastes. After just having the Grand Cru I was trying to steer clear of something even more filling like a chocolate stout to match the truffles. In hindsight, a fruit-based dessert might have been more appropriate for the New Glarus.

Overall I’d say the dinner was a success. Even though some of the pairings didn’t work out as well as I had hoped, every thing on its own was still delicious. It also gave me a chance to give beer pairing a shot, something I look forward to doing more of in the future. Most importantly I got to spend a romantic night with my girl and show off a little of my inner beer nerd. Just ask her, I was “geeking out” the whole time. She will actually be working with me on future beer and food pairing endeavors and luckily for everyone, she’s a better cook than I am.



  • enophiledude May 5, 2011 @ 1:39pm

    I was wondering and really hoping maybe some New Glarus was now in Buffalo…great beer

  • Hannah May 5, 2011 @ 1:51pm

    We wish! We (Buffalonians) actually have to go to Wisconsin to get it, although I think that bottle may have come from a stash picked up at Belgium Comes to Cooperstown, the summertime Ommegang event.

Leave a Reply

Your name is required.
Comment field is required.