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Nov 28, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 34
A 'Dare to pair' tasting

April 26, 2001

After you've explored the "conventional" beer-food pairings how do you find new ones? Perhaps you should put together a "Dare to Pair" tasting. That allows you to try smaller amounts of food and beer, testing not only pairings you instinctively think will work but also those you might not otherwise consider. It's fine excuse for a party.

You, and your friends, can sample a half dozen or more beers with a range of foods -- something you likely couldn't do by yourself without feeling ill effects the next day.

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It's pretty easy. You'll need to offer about a half-dozen dishes that you can serve in small tasting amounts. You'll also want a range of beers that span several styles. Make sure you have one beer you know will be compatible with each dish (such as an Oktoberfest to go with roasted chicken).

You may decide to pick all the beers yourself, but it also can be fun to let your guests get involved. Don't simply tell them all to bring a 6-pack, because there won't be much exploring if everybody shows up with a pale ale or a barley wine. You can be specific -- assign somebody to bring a pale ale of his or her choice, somebody else to find a malty lager -- or more general. In the latter case, have one guest bring a beer that goes with pasta, another one a beer to accompany fish, etc.

An alternative is to ask guests to turn the tasting into a potluck where you take care of the beer. Again, you need to give your friends some direction -- requesting specific dishes or asking one person to bring a dish that goes with one of the beers you've picked, another to be in charge of another pairing, etc. To be safe, you may want to check to see what each person has decided to bring or you could end up with all meats, all cheeses or all desserts.

You can serve one dish and one beer at a time, but putting everything out at once encourages your guests to do more exploring and good conversations are bound to follow.

You should set up the tasting much as you would if you were serving only beer -- provide small glasses, offer water and even consider having neutral crackers available so guests can clean their palates.

Tasting notes

CASTA MORENA
Brewed by the Especialidades Cerveceras brewery in Mexico

Michael Jackson's tasting notes:

Very attractive, tawny to dark brown color. Pours with good "Brussels lace". Fruity, sweetish, plummy, aroma. Rounded, smooth, body. Clean, toffeeish, malt flavors. A hint of orange-zest acidity in the finish provides a balancing dryness.

RED TAIL ALE
Brewed by Mendocino Brewing Co. in California

Scott Birdwell's tasting notes:

The aroma gives you a preview to what is to come: fruitiness. The aroma was fruity, not in a malty/grainy or hoppy way, but more in yeast/ester way. This definitely carried through to the flavor, which was fruity from start to finish. There is a subtle hop character here.

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