[Photographs: Vicky Wasik]
Editor’s Word: Welcome again to our collection on beer pairings, by which Michael Harlan Turkell, coauthor of The Beer Pantry, walks us via six completely different beer taste profiles and the meals that go greatest with them.
Sipping a beer that tastes overwhelmingly of peaches, freshly cracked pepper, cloves, or cinnamon, it’s straightforward to think about the bottle was brewed utilizing a mix of fruits and spices. However whereas some brews actually are flavored with complete or puréed fruits, the class of beers Adam Dulye and I check with as “fruity and spicy” in our e book, The Beer Pantry, largely decide up their aroma and taste from the yeasts they’re brewed with.
There are a whole bunch of yeast strains that play a task on the planet of fermentation, but it surely’s the saccharomyces cerevisiae species that are liable for the spicy, fruity notes you’ll decide up in beer. When uncovered to oxygen, these yeasts develop esters—natural compounds that tackle fruity flavors throughout fermentation. The esters lend these beers mellow notes of citrus and stone fruit, and typically add different uncommon and thrilling flavors, starting from hints of candy tropical fruits to woody, smoky barnyard hay, and even bubblegum.
With such massive personalities, fruity and spicy beers can stand as much as all kinds of underlying acidity—buttermilk, vinegar, grapefruit, and grapes, to call just a few. It’s a class that boasts a various vary of brews, together with refreshing farmhouse-style saisons, easy-drinking and fragrant Belgian blonde ales, tender and faintly candy wits (white beers, similar to Hefeweizen, which incorporate at the least 50% unmalted wheat), extra alcoholic and maltier Tripels and Quadrupels, and natural gruits brewed with out hops.
Sipped alongside a meal, these beers can take the place of fruity and spicy substances added on to dishes. Together with bringing acidity, their notes of pepper and tropical fruit assist enliven refined dishes like carrot soup, roasted rutabaga, and mussels.
Recently I’ve been having fun with Trappist ales, that are most famously brewed by, or beneath the supervision of, monks in over a dozen monasteries all through Europe. These beers showcase notes of fruit and heat spices. Tripels (one of the well-known of which is the world-renowned, high-alcohol Westmalle Tripel) historically include thrice the malt and thrice the alcohol of an everyday Belgian blonde, the standard low-malt mild ale of Belgium. Fortunately, Tripels’ higher-than-average alcohol content material doesn’t overwhelm noticeable hints of cinnamon, brown sugar, and dried fruit. These powerfully flavored beers pair splendidly with flippantly cooked mollusks like seared scallops in a faintly candy sauce, or delicate white fish like sea bass with preserved lemon.
In saisons, in the meantime, you would possibly decide up banana with a touch of clove. These bubbly, fruity brews are bottle-conditioned, which means yeast is allowed to naturally carbonate the beer after fermentation is full, including one other dimension of taste. I really like the best way a saison, loved after dinner, coaxes out the marginally bitter, grassy high quality of a wealthy olive oil cake.
Additionally within the fruity and spicy class are hopless gruit ales. Within the Center Ages, earlier than hops grew to become the standard, go-to bittering agent, beer was made with gruits—mixtures of bitter herbs like yarrow or horehound. These days, there’s a complete slew of extra culinary-minded hop-less ales whose gruits are made with aromatics like oregano and peppery horseradish. Gruit ales pair nicely with all kinds of wintery roast meats and woody herbs—assume rosemary-rubbed quail, or thyme-crusted venison. Since fashionable gruit ales are flavored with such all kinds of herbs, it’s value checking the label on the bottle earlier than you resolve what to pair your beer with. No two gruit ales are fairly the identical.
As a result of fruity and spicy beers supply up a lot taste, they will simply grow to be fallback substances in cooking, as they do in conventional Belgian beer-steamed mussels, by which the beer imparts an earthy taste. However whereas these beers are nice for cooking, they need to be handled as greater than a backdrop for simmering and stewing.
Subsequent time you’re cooking with a extremely good fruity and spicy beer, take a sip (or swig) earlier than you begin. If you happen to style peppery and heat spices within the beer, take into consideration how these flavors can praise the dish. Whereas I really like utilizing beer as an lively ingredient, it’s simply as nice, if not higher, when merely sipped on the aspect.
This publish could include hyperlinks to Amazon or different companions; your purchases through these hyperlinks can profit Critical Eats. Learn extra about our affiliate linking coverage.