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Beer’s little secret

Cassie Pence
Special to the Daily An organic Thai curry vegetable dish and glass of beer are displayed at the Ukiah Brewing Co. in Ukiah, Calif., Tuesday Jan. 4, 2005. Beginning four years ago the brewpub guaranteed that every ingredient going into the home-style dishes served up comes from a federally certified organic provider. The brewpub is the first restaurant to be certified as organic in California. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)
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LIONSHEAD – Do you ever have a hard time pairing wine with a salad? That’s because you should be drinking beer with those greens.Marrying beer, as opposed to wine, with food is a small movement quickly gaining momentum among beer lovers, even in our little valley. Organizers of the fifth annual Big Beers, Belgians and Barleywines festival are hosting their first Brew Master’s Dinner today at 8 p.m. at Montauk in Lionshead.”This is a very tough brew masters’ dinner to put together. You have to be a good chef for this one because we’re featuring two different breweries. To try and come up with food that will pair well with beer from both breweries is very difficult to do,” said Bill Lodge, the festival’s founder. “What we are trying to show is different styles of beer will go together with different plates of food in different ways.”The festival’s two featured beer experts, Adam Avery and Sam Calagione of Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder and Dogfish Head in Milton, Delaware, respectively, supplied the beer for the dinner. Montauk’s Executive Chef, Dimitri Souvorin, with the help of his staff, then began by sampling all the beers Avery and Dogfish Head had to offer.

“We’re looking for beer and food that complement each other and create an interesting new flavor, where the beer doesn’t over power the food, and the food doesn’t over power the beer,” said Souvorin.The chef created a six course meal, pairing two beers with each course. Souvorin cites the union between the wild mussels and littleneck clams in a saffron cream with Dogfish Head’s Chicory Stout as the smoothest pairing on the menu.”The saffron takes the hoppy flavor away from the beer, and the beer takes the sweetness away from the saffron, and it really creates a rich creamy taste that is wonderful,” said Souvorin.Avery and Calagione are no strangers to creating unions with food and beer. Avery said the reason people aren’t as familiar with their compatibility is because no one has been teaching them about it.

“The wine industry has done a really good job of teaching people that wine is a special thing. But beer is way more complex than wine. There are way more styles, more levels of brewing. Hops alone has hundreds of styles. There are more choices of beer to pair with food,” said Avery. Calagione said at Dogfish Head they’re fanatical about educating people about harmonious food and beer combinations. The restaurant at the brewery not only incorporates beer into its recipes, like its Chikory Stout-marinated steaks or Shelter Pale Ale ketchup, but suggests which beer would replace a wine with a particular meal.”Beer definitely gets short tripped compared to wine when it comes to people deciding to have it with their meal, which I think is very unfair,” said Calagione. “There are certain types of food, particularly chocolate and acidic foods, like salad, that wines just don’t hold up to. Beer is a much more appropriate choice for those types of food. Malty beers, sweeter beers, go really, really well with spicy foods.”If you want to try your hand at wedding food with beer, Calagione said a great introduction is cooking mussels in Belgian ale. Pour the beer into a cooking pot full of mussels, add garlic, lemon, salt and pepper and cook.

“Then sit down with another bottle of Belgian ale and eat those mussels. It’s a great treat and really simple to do at home,” said Calagione.For more food and beer compatibility suggestions, log on to http://www.beertown.org. For more information on the Brew Master’s Dinner, log on to http://www.BigBeersFestival.com.Arts and Entertainment Editor Cassie Pence can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 618, or cpence@vaildaily.com. Vail, Colorado


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