Archive for June, 2014

Homemade Pizza Paired With Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’

Posted in beer with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 5, 2014 by cueball

Beer and Pizza

One of the few truths of beer and food pairing is this:  Unless you have a skunked beer or use crappy ingredients for the sauce or crust or use moldy mozzarella, then there is little if no way to screw up a beer and pizza pairing.  Pick a good pale ale and quality ingredients and you have a successful pairing.

So, to up the difficulty of this pairing I made the crust and the sauce for the pizza.  One of the truisms of home brewing is the best beer you will ever taste is a beer that you brewed (no matter how bad that home brew may be, trust me).  The same can be said for pizza.  When I decided to do everything from scratch it was not the sauce that worried me.  It is a good simple recipe that still packs a good sweet (carrots and my own idea: brown sugar) and garlicky taste.  I like pizza sauce a little sweeter than pasta sauce.

The crust worried me.  The last time I made a crust for a veggie pot pie and that did not work as well I had hoped.  This actually came out light and airy.  It is a little doughy, which as long as I keep making it will get better.

Pizza Sauce

Sauce and Homemade CrustAbout to go into the ovenFinished Product

Since this is my summer of wheat, the beer I chose was one of my favorites, Lagunitas Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale.  It is a pale wheat ale, but since it is a Lagunitas brew it is a hoppy pale wheat, much hoppier then the Southern Tier 422.  The 422 might go a little better because without the hops it would provide more of a complement to the sauce.  The Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ works just fine as a contrast to the sauce.Little Sumpin' Sumpin'

Question, what if I had not added the brown sugar to the recipe?  Would Sumpin’ Sumpin’ taste better with the sauce?  Once you get past the basics of pairings and start to really think about the tastes of individual beers and ingredients you put in your recipes these are things that make pairing and cooking really fun.  To an extent you can manipulate the taste of the meal and beer just by shifting choices slightly.  Instead of 422 choose Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’.  Add brown sugar, take away green bell peppers.  Add a few dashes of lemon-pepper seasoning.  Each of these choices affects the other ingredients and/or how the beer pairs with the food either as a complement or as a contrast.

This is one of those cases where the pairing guides you read will tell you a pale ale works with pizza.  What those guides do not tell you is that picking different beers from the recommended style changes the nature of the pairing.  Again, the best way to figure out what beers will pair with what foods is to taste a lot of beers and learn more about the actual beer styles.  The three books that have helped me the most in pairing are Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione and Marnie Old, The Brewmaster’s Table by Garrett Oliver, and Beer, Food, and Flavor by Schuyler Schultz.  Any of these is a great place to start.


What Do I Love About Craft Beer…To Begin, With Everything

Posted in beer with tags , , on June 4, 2014 by cueball

William Miller:  “So Russell…what do you love about music?”

Russell Hammond:  “To begin with, everything.”

Almost Famous

This started off as a simple exercise in me thinking about what I look for in a good beer.  As is my wont, my mind started spinning out into different directions and I actually ended up writing about New Criticism and authorial intent as it regards brewers.

As is also my wont, if I see myself over-complicating the obvious (with good reason in this case) I stepped back and simplified.  Thinking about what I look for in a beer is complicated by the ideas of why I like beer and choose craft beer in the first place.  More on this later.

To put it simply, what I look for any a beer is does it balance all of its ingredients in a way that makes the sum greater than its parts.  Beer is not a smoothie it is a salad.  In a smoothie you are blending all the ingredients into one drink that subsumes all the ingredients into one taste.  A salad is a co-mingling of elements that respects and uses all the taste and texture of all the independent elements.

Beer is the same way.  You are not hiding the taste of the hops.  You are not hiding the taste of the malt.  You are using the elements of each to complement and highlight the other ingredients.

That is the basis of why I fell in love with craft beer.  I love puzzles and drinking a good craft beer is, for me, an attempt to unravel a puzzle of how four basic ingredients were turned into this thing I am drinking, which has a wholly different taste then the thing I drank yesterday made from the same basic ingredients.

However, it is the people and the community that have popped up around this idea of better beer that makes it worthwhile.  In the craft beer community there is the idea that this is about more than just producing something to make a profit.  Don’t get it twisted; profit is important because brewers need to eat to.  However, the idea is to make something worthwhile.  To craft a product that you enjoy making that truly gives others pleasure in order to make a profit.

Craft beer is not a disposable empty product you will forget about five minutes after you drink it.  Craft beer, brewing coffee, brewing tea, the whole food movement in general are all attempts by people to step away from the disposable society we live in now.  People have started to understand how unhealthy both mentally and physically that type of society is, and find ways around it.

That is why craft beer has gone from a puzzle that fascinates me to my line in the sand (sorry I couldn’t come up with anything better) against a society that places fast and disposable ahead of good.  Fast and disposable are not inherently bad, but too often they are accompanied by cheap which is always the enemy of good.

I hope some of this makes sense.  It was rather self-indulgent (not as self-indulgent as the first draft).  It serves as a warm up to making a pizza from scratch (crust and sauce and some to be determined toppings) this afternoon and pairing a beer with it.