Perfect Companions

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Discover the best beer & food pairings

Story by Dave Eckert

While investigating Kansas City’s craft beer scene for this month’s Sublime Sips column, I starting thinking how much the concept of pairing beer with cuisine has changed right along with the numbers of craft beers being produced in our fair city. That led me to this – a look at what foods go with the different styles of beer that are crossing our palates and sating our thirst.

Craftbeer.com does a nice job of breaking today’s suds into six categories: Crisp & Clean, Malty & Sweet, Hoppy & Bitter, Fruity & Spicy, Sour, Tart & Funky, and Dark & Roasty. What follows are some thoughts on matching beers from the various categories with all sorts of delicious food.



Crisp and clean beers, like lagers and pilsners, are recommended with grain-centered dishes such as shrimp fettucine or chicken risotto. The thinking is the grain flavors in the food complement the grain flavors in the beer, while the crispness of the beer cleanses and refreshes the palate.

Malty and sweet-style beers, such as brown ales and hefeweizens, are great with lighter grilled items like chicken or halibut. The cuisine adds richness to the beer while also balancing out salt and acid levels.

Fruity and spicy brews, like Belgium-style Saisons, are perfect with shellfish. A Saison with mussels, for example, would be ideal, balancing the saltiness in the dish while keeping the palate refreshed with great acidity.

Hoppy and bitter concoctions, all the rage now in American and India pale ales and American brown ales, need bigger dishes with some fat to cut through the hoppiness of the beer. Craftbeer.com suggests roast duck or quail, but I’d recommend classic fish and chips with the fat of the fried fish and French fries cutting right through the beer’s hoppy bitterness.

Sour, tart, and funky malted beverages provide the most challenges in food pairing, but also the most opportunities in my opinion. Here’s a thought for you – pour a little sour into your favorite barbecue sauce and use it to baste your smoked pork butt or pork shoulder. After, serve that same sour will pulled pork sandwiches! I’m guessing that pairing with bring a huge smile to anyone lucky enough to score an invitation to your pulled pork party.

Finally, there’s dark and roasty beers, such as stouts and porters. Here, anything that emphasizes the roasted character of the beer, like dark chocolate or a coffee cheesecake or bundt cake, is perfect. I’m not much of a dessert person myself, so I’d opt for cheeses like a smoked Gouda or smoked Cheddar. Or, how about a nice smoky beef brisket to complement that dark and smoky brew? Oh yeah!



LOCAL RECIPE

The Bier Station Beer Braised Smoked Pork Butt

INGREDIENTS:  Yields 4-5 lbs pork
  • 8-10 lb pork butt, bone in
  • 1 C Molasses
  • 3/4 C salt
  • 1 1/2 qt water
  • 2 qts porter or stout such as Boulevard Early Riser or Deschutes Obsidian Stout
INSTRUCTIONS

In a large container, add the molasses, salt and water and mix thoroughly until the salt is dissolved. Add the pork butt to the container and refrigerate for at least 4 hours. After the butts have brined, bring your smoker to a temp of 235 degrees. Typically use applewood chips, but a mix between hickory and applewood can work too. Drain the brine and lightly rinse the butts off. Add the butts to the smoker for at least 4 hours. Once that time is up, heat your oven to 350 degrees and in a dutch oven or a deep 4-6 qt pan, pour in your beer and add the butts. Cover the dutch oven with a lid or the pan with saran wrap and foil. Put the butts in the oven once it is up to temp or another 4-5 hours. The meat is done when you are able to pull the bone out from the pork butts with ease. Shred up the pork and serve immediately.

BEER PAIRING

A hoppy IPA or a english-style brown ale

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