Over the years I’ve developed quite a taste for craft beers – their complexity of flavor, mouthfeel and aroma weighs right up there, for me, with those qualities of wines… actually even moreso, since most of the time I choose a good brew over wine any day. What’s great is that, especially lately, I’m finding I’m not the only one.
Even in the most pretentious of settings, many restaurants are adopting the idea of a specialty beer list. Gone are the days of limited selection, usually consisting of a slew of lagers by different brewers, offering up the same old taste from one to the next.
From Bill Ward’s article, Don’t be surprised if the restaurant offers a beer list, in the Detroit Free Press, “The flavor-profile range is incredible. Beer is physically more complex (than wine), has more ingredients, more stuff going on,” said Alvey, citing the spices and fruits that might go into a brew along with the grain and hops.
But as complex as some of the offerings have gotten, Alvey said, it’s still beer.
“It’s not intimidating like wine,” he said. “If a beer label says it tastes like chocolate or licorice, it slaps you in the face with chocolate or licorice. The flavors are very, very obvious.”
Beer is certainly not just a pizza-and-wings beverage. For every type of food, whether it be a salad, an entree or dessert, there’s a brew that will match up perfectly. Here’s some beer and food pairing tips, as cited in the aforementioned article:
Alvey: “Belgian wit beer, fermented with coriander and orange peel, goes great with fish. Belgian sour beers in general are light-bodied, refreshing, tart – I liken them to a lemon drink but even more sour – all go well with fish.”
Haug: “Our pork adobo and the Surly Smoke (a local beer made by Haug’s husband, Todd). The dish has a lot of types of chiles, a boatload of flavors and spices but also a quesa fresco and sour cream. The smoked-malt flavors enhance rather than compete with all that.”
Pampuch: “We make a semolina cheesecake that comes out more savory than most cheesecakes. That goes well with a classic cherry lambic. The earthiness and richness and dryness of the cheesecake balance the sweetness and syrupiness of the lambic.”
Next time you’re dining out, no matter what the occasion or setting, don’t settle for enlightened grape juice… ask for the beer list instead.
[techtags:CRAFT BEER, BEER LIST, BEER AND WINE, BEER FOOD PAIRING]