Brewmakers Promote Suds With Sustenance
For some, the difference between wine with dinner and beer with
dinner has been compared to jacket and tie required versus no
shirt, no shoes, no problem.
Wine aficionados have long known proper combinations, what
vintage from what year goes best with what fish or meat.
Sommeliers are available to make educated recommendations to
the inexperienced and bottles are opened tableside with a
flourish and small ceremony.
Meanwhile, there is a stigma associated with beer and food.
A beer with a meal, many think, means the food is deep fried or
should be served with globs of nacho cheese.
But, it's time to think beyond the burger and Bud.
Consider pan-seared sirloin tips in shiitake blue-cheese sauce
with a glass of doppelbock or fish tacos with a frosty pint of
American Pale Ale.
"People think that only wine goes with good food," says Gene
Muller, owner of the Flying Fish Brewery in Cherry Hill. "Fact is,
beer is just as good, if not better."
As the American craft brewing movement gains momentum and
more and more consumers are turning away from corporate
beers -- Like Budweiser and Coors -- and towards local
breweries and hand-crafted beers, folks in the community are
looking to move into the kitchen.
Recently 48 microbreweries and brewpubs from around the
country gathered at a convention hall in the nation's capital to
show off just how well beer can go with good food.
Dubbed "Savor, an American craft beer and food experience"
sponsored by the Brewers Association -- a nonprofit group
based in Colorado devoted to professional brewers -- the
two-day event offered tastings and lectures on perfect parings
for everything from seafood to the food most often associated
with wine: cheese.
There are limitless options.
Maytag blue cheese was successfully paired with everything from
barrel aged ale with an 11 percent alcohol content to a barley
wine and a Belgium-style ale. Each brought out unique flavors in
both the cheese and beer and created an experience worth
savoring and worthy of repeating.
"You really can't go wrong," said Fred Bueltmann, of Michigan's
New Holland Brewing. "A stinky cheese, a powerful beer is a
Rogue Brewing of Oregon, has teamed up with Chef Masaharu
Morimoto, of television's Iron Chef series to create a black ale
brewed with three kinds of hops and produces nut overtones
that goes along with a particularly sharp aged cheddar cheese.
Some brewers, like Travis Zeilstra of the Montana Brewing
Company in Billings, began his career as a chef and when coming
up with a new beer contemplates food parings at the same time.
His Stillwater Rye, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale spiced with
coriander and bitter orange peel -- a treat by itself -- was paired
with a carrot ginger curry soup. Zeilstra's wheat beer was served
alongside empanadas with mango salsa.
"It's getting easier to say 'put the can down and come try
something different, something that tastes good'," Zeilstra said.
Along with pouring suds into a glass along with a meal, some
breweries are using beer as an ingredient as well.
Many of the breweries used stout to enhance the flavors of the
burgers while others steamed Thai turkey and shiitake dumplings
in a lager, like Sam Adams.
Charlie Papazian, president of the Brewers Association and a New
Jersey native, said the time has come where "a bottle of beer
belongs on a table as much as a bottle of wine."
In 2007, the American craft beer industry grew 12 percent,
producing more than 8 million barrels of beer generating $5.7
billion in revenue. And, while still considered small against
brewing giants like Anheuser-Busch, SABMiller and Coors
Brewing, the smaller brewers are slowly gaining ground.
"Over 20 years ago, there was a small corps of dedicated beer
people who would get together for beer dinners," said Papazian.
"Now, to see that the American public considers that beer has a
place on the table is heartwarming."
The Brewers Association has a nearly complete list of common
craft brew styles with suggested food, cheese and dessert
Ah yes, dessert. It's possible to skip a port, or a Baileys, Brandy,
Grand Marnier or limoncello and instead reach for an imperial
stout, smoked porter, a Scottish ale or a wit beer.
New Belgium Brewing of Fort Collins, Colo., for example, paired
their Mothership Wit, an organic brew based on a Belgium style
white beer, with apple, blueberry and cherry cobblers.
"With well made beer," says Peter Bouckaert, New Belgium's
brewmaster, "a chef can taste and dream and translate it into
anything. It can become something beautiful."
More than 2,100 people attended the Savor event last weekend,
according to the Brewers Association.
Jesse Williams, brewer at The New Albanian Brewery in Indiana,
and a man who embodies the maverick ways that can often be
associated with craft beer said for drinkers and diners alike it is
ultimately what a person thinks is best and works for their own
"Wine has rules," he said. "We are beer drinkers and we don't
have to follow the rules."
A Journalist Looks at Beer
|The Beer Briefing
by John Holl