Valentine’s Day, Superbowl, Beer and Food pairing dinner: Take 1

Everyone loves a good beer and food pairing story, where a variety of delicious craft beers is specifically partnered with dishes that will enhance the flavor of the food, beer, and hopefully both. Well last week, our sales manager James created a menu that put Alter beers with some of his own favorite dishes and we’d like to share that with you.

Here’s how things turned out…

Alter Pork Roast

You couldn’t find two holidays more culinarily opposed than Valentine’s Day and the Super Bowl, but for our first beer dinner blog post, they created an opportunity to explore themes (the cooking was done on Feb. 4th). So, I came up with a classic three-course meal, with beer pairings, for two. Romantic enough for Valentine’s Day… but with the Super Bowl looming, I was feeling the pull of pork. And why not? It’s an excellent vehicle for an array of flavors and preparation methods, kind of like beer.

The Vision:

I began with the amuse bouche. A flaky, buttery pastry dough pressed into a muffin tin with ham, gruyere, mustard, and a touch of rosemary. Flavorful, yet restrained, it was to be paired with Center Line Golden Ale, harmonizing with the biscuity malt character and subtly spicy, earthy hops.

The salad course was next. In this, I chose the beer first, Alterior Motive. Complex, balanced, but with a particular tropical fruit and citrus character that is easy to work with. I thought an interesting counterpoint would be smoky, salty, fat. So I added some bacon and blue cheese over romaine hearts and grape tomatoes.

And to complete the pork trifecta, a pork loin with shallots, carrots, brussels sprouts, and red potatoes braised in a vegetable broth with mustard, apple cider vinegar, and rosemary. For this, I chose Galaxy Red Ale to work with the roasted, hearty, and earthy flavors to highlight the beer’s fruitier notes.

Finally, the dessert. We decided to outsource this one to our friend Kristi Caccippio (Cakes by Kristi), who loves to cook with Alter beer. She created a chocolate cake (using Smash Tun) with a toffee crunch filling (also made with Smash Tun). It was expertly frosted with white buttercream and decorated with fondant hop accents. The pairing may have been in the cake itself, but the richness of the cake and creaminess of the buttercream screamed for a glass of dark beer like Alto Porto or Smash Tun.

The outcome:

Due to time constraints, the ham and gruyere puffs didn’t happen. However, when I made them a couple of days later, it paired just as I hoped; complimenting without muting either.

The salad worked beautifully with Alterior Motive. The freshness of the lettuce and tomatoes, along with its heartier elements, helped keep it in check while marrying the citrus and tropical notes in the beer with the citrus, creaminess, and saltiness of the salad.

The entrée pairing did come as a surprise. Galaxy was a bit overwhelming for the pairing; I believe I miscalculated the balance of the overall flavor of the beer to the more subdued flavors of the dish. A lighter beer with a hint of sweetness, like King Balaton would make a wonderful partner. Also, note to self: pressure cooker + brussels sprouts = not good for business.

Finally, the cake. The decadent chocolate and toffee sweetness fit right in with the rich, sweet flavors of Smash Tun.

The takeaway for our first foray into this three-course food and beer pairing was this: There is a lot of information out there about how to pair beers with food, and most of the time it will get you pretty close. But in the end you’ve got to strap on that apron, pour yourself a beer, and discover for yourself what works.

Oh, and we’d be happy to give you the recipes here, but when asked James said “Never follow a recipe, don’t make the same dish twice.”

James Bigler – Sales Manager and Certified Cicerone

Do you have some thoughts on this post, or some ideas for a new blog post you’d like to see? Please drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you! Send your emails here.