Archive for beer pairing

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

Posted in beer, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2014 by cueball
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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Mixed Vegetable Frittata and Allagash White Food/Beer Pairing

Posted in beer, food with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 23, 2014 by cueball

This may be my favorite pairing so far and it will probably stay as one of my favorites for a good while.  Why?  It was a purely spontaneous pairing.

This is what happened.  I spent the morning as I do on Saturdays watching Premiere League soccer and cleaning my house.  I met Eightball for lunch at my favorite place in Shelby for beer (today the newly tapped Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale) and food, Pleasant City.  Then I went over to my local beer store, Dragonfly Wine Market, tasted  few of my favorite North Carolina beers (Lonerider: Sweet Josie and Shotgun Betty; Mother Earth Brewing Endless River; and Highland Brewing Oatmeal Porter) and purchased more beer then I should have but not as much as a I wanted.

I arrived back home and almost drove to the grocery store (which would have been my third trip in two days) when I decided to look at what I had laying around.  For whatever reason, the milk, eggs, and frozen vegetables jumped out at me.  A frittata would be a great light dinner with a lot of flavor. So I went through my recipe books and found a recipe for a pasta frittata.  I didn’t have pasta, so I just substituted the vegetables and added some Parmesan cheese to make it all come together and in 30 minutes I had nice light and feathery tasting frittata.

As soon as I decided on the frittata, I knew exactly what I was going to pair it with.  Taking advice from the ur-text of beer and food pairing, The Brewmaster’s Table, witbier was the obvious choice of what is currently in my fridge.  Luckily, my only witbier at the moment was the Allagash White.

First off, as it should, Allagash White pours a little cloudy and has a nice quickly disappearing head.  On the nose, you get a little bit of cloves from the yeast and the orange peel and coriander among others from the added spices.  On the front of the taste, you get the bright orange peel/citrusy taste with the cloves, coriander, and other spices coming along behind.  On the finish there is a touch of wheat that makes you want another sip.

The White’s orange peel and coriander flavors matched perfectly with the brunchy nature of dinner.  Even with its substantive and full flavor it is light enough to not over power the eggs, milk, and Parmesan mixture.  The frittata is a great last second way to use up extra food.  You can use any filler you want:  pasta, mixed vegetables, spinach, ham, sausage, etc.  In this case I used frozen mixed vegetables to make a quick simple meal.  I also love to use left over pasta or almost caramelized onions.  With the frittata you can make it taste however you want by changing the filler ingredients and the cheese used to bind it together.

This meal would have been better with fresh vegetables, but I was in a hurry and wanted to do something simple.  Isn’t this is how most people deal with wanting to cook something at the after a long day at work or at the last minute to help make a real meal:  What’s in my fridge and pantry that will let me make something that tastes good and is relatively easy?  The next time I’ll get vegetables and chop them and add different flavors and textures to make this better, but because of the situation and how I was feeling at the time this was almost perfect.

This was the essence of what I really want to do.  Find simple, maybe not easy, foods that anyone can make and then try to match them with beer?  In this case I choose a light brunch/breakfast type food for dinner.  To match with that I wanted to first find something that was light and had a profile that was reminiscent of orange juice.  Witbiers are the perfect beer for that situation.

Now, this may be the first of two food and beer posts this weekend.  Eightball and I are probably going to watch Daytona tomorrow.  What beer goes best with driving around in circles for 500 miles?