We’re pretty excited about GABS (only two days to go!) in case you hadn’t gathered that from our last two Wednesday Features. So, as a bit of a lark, we thought we’d do one last GABS-centric, pre-festival article – a kind of beginner’s guide to matching your sippy cups of beer to the food on offer at this year’s SpecTAPular.
Needless to say I’m well impressed with the food vendor line-up and am expecting multiple foodgasms over the course of the weekend. Also, I’ve been dieting pretty hard-core to make up for the excess calories I’ll be consuming this weekend so I’m very much looking forward to a well-earned binge.
Generally speaking, strong meats and flavours should be met with a similarly strongly flavoured beer, while more delicate dishes should be matched with more delicate beers. Flavours usually work best when there’s some complimentary element; think the rich, roasted flavours of a stout with the rich density of a dark chocolate brownie. Finally, don’t just match to the protein, consider things like the saltiness, spiciness, sweetness and richness of your meal.
Anyway, without further ado, here’s a few of my hot tips…
Phat Brats Beer-soaked Bratwurst could be paired with a Wit or Saison such as White Rabbit’s Teddywidder (a Berliner Weisse) and Wayward Brewing Co.’s Saizen. The higher acidity usually associated with these beer styles will help to balance the acidity in the sauerkraut and mustard while also breaking through and cleansing the palate of the fattiness of that delicious German sausage.
Digging for fire BBQ’s Smoky Beef Short Ribs with spicy condiments and fresh salad would be well matched to an ale with medium to strong malt characters. You could try Pig Pen, the collaboration from Wig & Pen Brewery and Feral Brewing Co. Malted ales are well matched with beef and the sweetness will also balance the heat from the ‘spicy condiments’ the ribs are served with. Another way to lessen the intensity of the heat would be to match it with a low alcohol beer, generally anything under 5% ABV: the more alcoholic the beverage the more it will penetrate your tongue, opening up those tastebuds to more heat from spices. My picks would be the Blue Sky Golden Ale and The Indian Ocean Brewing Co.’s Dark Lager.
I’m not entirely sure what’ll be on offer from the Melt Shop but a nice and hoppy IPA or pale ale will do wonders to break up the rich fattiness of any melted cheese. But again, think about the other flavours in the dish.
Now, let’s get on with deserts. Try pairing the Meatball Company’s S’mores with a rich stout or a fairly dense porter. The richness of the beer will contrast with the sweet, rich flavours of the desert, subduing both so that your palate will be able to determine the more subtle flavours in each. I’d probably opt for Harbour Brewing Co.’s Spiced Imperial Chocolate, Mike’s Udderlicious Milk Stout, or the Duckstein Porter.
Finally, if you’re interested in making your own pairings from what’s on offer, or when next frequenting a restaurant with a great craft beer selection, the American Brewers Association has compiled this great guide to help not only pair beers with meals but also give guidance as to the correct serving temperature and glassware. Nifty huh?
Happy tasting and pairing all!