Penne Pasta with Alfredo Sauce and Steamed Broccoli and Asparagus paired with Flying Dog Brewery’s In-Heat Wheat Hefeweizen

Flying Dog's In-Heat Wheat pairs wonderfully with this pasta dish

Flying Dog’s In-Heat Wheat pairs wonderfully with this pasta dish

I started with the idea of making a lighter spring/summer vegetable dish.  I found this Alfredo sauce recipe on Allrecipes.com and decided that asparagus and broccoli would be the perfect match for it.  Once I had the recipe I wanted I knew I wanted a lighter summer beer.  I looked at the recipe and figured out the dominant tastes would be the creamy sauce and the asparagus and broccoli.  That was pretty easy to figure out since outside of the penne they are the only things in the recipe.

The next question was do I want the beer to complement or contrast the flavors?  What would be the best way to highlight the food and the beer together?  I did not find that many recommendations for pairings with an Alfredo sauce and the ones I did find recommended pale ale.  Honestly, those are useless recommendations without naming a specific pale ale.  Pales are not necessarily light enough to work with a light summer dish nor do they have enough carbonation to work with a sauce that is as cloying as an Alfredo sauce, unless you are recommending one of the lighter spring/summer seasonal pales like Little Hump from Highland Brewing.  Thinking about the recipe, my mind went in a different direction immediately anyway:  hefeweizens or witbiers.

Then I just had to choose a beer.  So, I went down to Dragonfly and bought a handful of different hefeweizens and witbiers that I like, Weeping Willow Wit, Orange Avenue Wit, Shotgun Betty, and In-Heat Wheat.  Any of them would have worked, but I choose the In-Heat Wheat.

In-Heat has a classic hefeweizen taste of cloves and bananas from the yeast, a lot of carbonation, and it is light on the tongue.  The one thing that worried me about using a wheat beer was the cloves and banana.  I was not sure how that would go with the sauce and the vegetables.

I was surprised by how the cloves and bananas complemented the asparagus and the sauce.  This sauce is good because it adapts to whatever it is being served with including beer and the light vegetable flavor of the asparagus also fit with the taste of the beer nicely.  Where this beer works better than a pale ale is in the lightness and the carbonation.  The lightness fit with the overall feel of the dish and the carbonation cut through the sauce keeping it from being too heavy and overwhelming the vegetables and pasta.

Penne Pasta with creamy Alfredo Sauce and steamed Asparagus and Broccoli

Penne Pasta with creamy Alfredo Sauce and steamed Asparagus and Broccoli

One of the lighter spring or summer seasonal pales would have worked because of their lightness and would have brought a different flavor profile because of their hoppy vegetal taste.  That would have placed more of the emphasis on the vegetables instead of the sauce.  The yeasty taste of a wheat beer moves the emphasis to the sauce instead of the vegetables and in turn, with this sauce in particular, the sauce accepts some of the tastes of the beer highlighting both.  That yeasty sweetness also complemented the vegetables without getting in their way giving me a good summer pairing.

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