Apr 20, 2018

Beer Break

Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 4
When you want more than a beer

Oct. 25, 2001

We've written before about pairing beer and food, offering some general rules and then suggestions about what foods go with particular beer styles:

- Basic tips for pairing beer and food.
- Pairing beer and food: Putting beer first.


It's time to get even more specific. Even if you can't locate the beers mentioned we expect these ideas will inspire you to try something out of the ordinary.

- Michael Jackson's suggestions to serve with St. Bernardus Abt 12, an upcoming selection from his Great Beers of Belgium beer-of-the-month club. It is a strong (10% abv) beer, almost ebony in color, "very big and assertive ... like a warming coconut brandy."

"Serve the Abbot's beer in a large snifter: with a banana split, a sabayon or soufflé of tropical fruits, sticky toffee pudding, or any coffeeish dessert. Sabayons or sauces could be reinforced with a slash of Sri Lankan coconut brandy (Arrack) or Armagnac. Or serve the Abt after the meal, as a digestif. You could even add a spot of brandy to that, as the Italians sometimes do in their coffee."

- Stephen Beaumont on a one beer-one cheese match: Cashel Blue Cheese and Full Sail Imperial Porter:

"A farmhouse cow's milk cheese from Beechmount in south-central Ireland, the Cashel is a raw milk cheese that dates from about the mid-1980's. In its short history, this heavily veined, creamy masterpiece has won numerous admirers from among the ranks of dedicated cheese aficionados, including the author of the Cheese Primer (Workman Publishing, 1996), Steve Jenkins.

"And now, the beer. What happened to be in my glass was the Imperial Porter from Mt. Hood, Oregon's Full Sail Brewing Company, a strong (7% by volume) and relatively full-bodied interpretation of the Baltic porter style. The sweetness of the ale coupled with its rich roastiness and slightly oily mouthfeel was the perfect complement to the cheese. As much as I had enjoyed the beer in prior tastings, it soared to greater heights alongside the melt-in-your-mouth Cashel Blue.

"If you can get both the Cashel and the Imperial Porter in your area, I strongly recommend that you go out today and buy both to sample together. If you can't get one or the other, I'd suggest as substitutes any sweetish, ample-bodied porter and stout of above-average strength and a piece of good Gorgonzola."

- Michael Jackson's suggestions to serve with Lion Stout from Sri Lanka, a strong beer (8% abv) now available in parts of the United States:

"Anything with coconut, especially Sri Lankan curries and similar mild-but-spicy dishes from elsewhere in the Indian subcontinent or South East Asia. To make a great dessert, blend it with melting ice-cream, then freeze the result. Serve with bitter-chocolate cookies."

- What beer to have with Trout Saison at Monk's Café in Philadelphia, a dish baked in Saison Dupont and seasoned with cilantro, garlic and spices? Stephen Beaumont found the decision easy: "One taste and I had my hand raised to order a bottle of the wonderful Belgian farmhouse ale the chef had used as braising liquid. Proof that sometimes the best partner for the dish is the beer used in its preparation." (Read more at

- Michael Jackson's suggestions to serve with Hofmark Pilsener, a hop-accented though delicate beer from Germany near the Czech border:

"(Serve) as an aperitif, or with fish. Goes especially well with river or lake fish such as trout. The more adventurous might enjoy it with carp, bread dumplings or croutons, and red cabbage. Or quenelles of pike, perhaps? Served with crisp, lightly cooked green cabbage, or even asparagus in season."

A few more quick ideas:

- Turtle Mountain Brewing Co.'s Oktoberfest with its Chicoma pizza, which features basil pesto, sun-dried tomatoes and chicken. An Oktoberfest is big enough stand up to the powerful pesto-tomato combination. Turtle Mountain (located in Rio Rancho, N.M.) features wood-fired pizzas but you can make this pizza at home with a thick or thin crust and substitute another Oktoberfest.

- North Coast Brewing's Old Rasputin Imperial Stout with chocolate truffles (with semi- and bitter-sweet chocolate centers and milk chocolate shells). Sweet-bitter-intense-sublime. On the East Coast you might substitute Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout and in the Midwest try Bell's Expedition Stout.

- Deschutes Black Butte Porter and BBQ Pork Tenderloin with Jamaican Jerk Seasonings and Tamarind-Apricot Glaze from Deschutes Brewery & Public House in Bend, Oregon. The porter underscores the earthiness of the barbecue and complements the spiciness of the seasonings. Deschutes offers a different lineup of specials daily, so you have to be lucky to catch this one.

Tasting notes
Brewed in Brussels, Belgium

Michael Jackson writes:

Powerful sweet cherry aroma. Smooth body. Sweet cherry and vanilla ice cream flavors against a background of tart, acidic fruitiness. More traditional examples have more acidity. I have seen whole cherries in casks at Belle-Vue's Molenbeek brewery, near Brussels, but surely syrup is also used. A relatively gentle introduction to the Belgian fruit Lambics.

Brewed by Broughton Ales in Scotland

Roger Protz writes:

Pale beer with touch of bronze. Biscuity, malty aroma balanced by bitter oranges and a spicy, floral hop note. Juicy malt in the mouth gives way to a tart and hoppy finish. There is a fresh herbal character to the beer from start to finish that is reminiscent of stinging nettles-a plant that is a close cousin of the hop. Deeply quenching and unusually bitter beer for a Scottish ale. It is brewed in the Borders, the region close to England, with brewing liquor drawn from the surrounding hills. A wizard beer!

Find whatever in the beer world you are looking for. Enter a search word or phrase, then click GO.