Saturday, August 27, 2011

Situational Drinking 2: Beer and Food

Just like when you are in a certain mood and find a perfect beer to compliment or contrast it (for the good), it is always good to find a combination of beer a food when each heightens the other. I have spoken of it a few times on here, and enjoyed when it has worked out.
In combining beer and food, I have heard there is a new book out called 'cooking with beer', and I have been on here before talking about my own 70's version book of the same name (though, shouldn't be taken as seriously). I have also recently seen a cooking with beer blog that I have been enjoying. I have had my own attempts of putting beer in food, starting with the classic beef and guinness pie, but also put our chocolate stout in a chocolate cake which did improve it some, and even tried putting the same beer into a potato bake, which did not work at all.
So coming back to chocolate beer and chocolate, this has been something big for me since first having a warm chocolate truffle cake with a Rogues Chocolate Stout in Portland back in 2009, and then backing it up by going to a beer and chocolate event during Good Beer Week this year. In this, the taste of each against the other compliments each other so well, and not out doing each other. Some may think that having chocolate on chocolate would be overbearing, and am sure this may be for others, but for me I find it hard to be out-sweetened, even after trying a Polish kreik beer that tasted like ultra cherry sherbert. It is just my personal taste.

Bringing this combination to a new level, having beer that tries to mimic the taste of some foods is also well known. Many christmas beers try basically to taste like the pudding that is eaten so often at this time of year. In a country so well known for its pork dishes, it is not surprising that the German's have produced a style of beer that for me tastes like liquified smoked/cured ham. Over this winter, I have been inspired by hickory smoked bbq sauce, and has led me to try brewing a smoke beer of my own, which I look forward to tasting tomorrow. Also, one of my favourite beers of this year is a beer actually called a Creme Brulee, which had luscious burnt caramel with vanilla. It is this that brings to a recent experience this week at my local, The Royston Hotel.

Normally I go for a parma and just have an IPA or something similar to help cleanse the palate for eat bite of the parma. With a meal that good, I just like a contrasting beer to allow me to appreciate every morsel of the food. Seeing it is steak night on Thursday's, I was able to get a good and well priced porterhouse with fat chips and gravy (and salad my body enjoyed) and drunk it with a Holgate Nut Brown Ale. The dark but not overbearing flavours of the beer went great with the steak (actually, with the slight nutty flavour, I reckon it would be a good base style of beer to put Stass's wattle seed with), but then things got even better when I noticed the dessert menu. Seeing a Milk Chocolate Creme Brulee (with honeycomb ice cream, with honeycomb pieces) and noticing a Lobethal Oatmeal Stout on tap, I jumped at the chance to try these off with each other. Apart from residual sugar from the creme brulee that would cause the beer the fizz across the tongue a bit, the texture of the beer went so well with the custard/ice cream. I found the best way to consume this was the have the creme brulee, then the ice cream and then the beer. Of course the sweetness was outrageous, but of course I loved it.

After the steak experience, I think with Australia's love of bbq's, I reckon there is a better approach to beer that will help aussies get into darker beers, and even smoked beers that can compliment bbqed meat. Having a cold can of mainstream beer just doesn't cut it for me at these times. To be honest, the only times I drink a mainstream beer is when I don't care what beer I drink (eg, after a hard day's work) or if I am drinking to just get drunk (boring).

Anyway, I hope you all find a beer and food combination that works great for you.

I am busting to say some news I also received during the week while on a bit of a beer journey, but I have been told not to say anything about it until I have been given the 'all clear' to announce it. However, seeing the story is so much a part of me expressing my beer experiences, I wouldn't be able to talk about the beer without letting the cat out of the bag. Therefore, I will hold off until then. Also, I look forward to tasting the Hickory Stickery Bock tomorrow, so will discuss that later also.



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