Sunday, May 30, 2010
I love cooking and entertaining, and Joey loves well, beer. In the past few years he's really gotten into microbrews, and we wanted to have a party to showcase some great ones. Wine pairing dinners are pretty popular, but beer pairings are on the rise. We thought it would be a lot of fun to have a beer pairing party, but with a twist: Joey would choose all the beers, and I would choose a dish to pair with each one. Typically when I throw a party, I plan the menu first, and then choose drinks that will work around those dishes. However, with this beer pairing dinner, Joey chose the beer, and the food revolved around that. We aren't one of those couples that likes to cook together (Joey would have to cook for that to happen), so this was a great chance for us to work together. I am thrilled that my proposal was chosen to be a part of Foodbuzz's 24x24 blogging event, so thanks to Foodbuzz for sponsoring the event!
Joey took his role as "beer sommelier" very seriously, and he did a lot of research for his choices. He wanted to have a good variety of lighter and darker beers, and we planned the menu to go from lightest to heaviest beer. When I started researching beer pairings, I read that you should consider the Three C's: Complement, Contrast, and Cut. I tried to abide by this guideline when choosing dishes to pair with each beer. I also wanted to have a good variety of heavy and light dishes, since we would be eating five courses, plus trying five beers.
I had originally planned to have the tables set up outside on the deck, but there was a good chance of rain in the evening. We made the decision to move everything inside, and I'm actually really glad we did - it started raining about halfway through dinner. We set up two tables in the dining room; I used empty beer bottles as vases for flowers, but kept the decor minimal other than that.
Joey put together a great beer guide for the party. He used a picture of each bottle and listed the beer.com rating, brewery location, style, alcohol content, retail price, and the commercial description. The guide was really helpful for learning a little about each beer before the course. We planned it so that Joey poured the beer as I plated the course, and he took a minute to explain the beer and allow everyone to taste it before the food. Then as I brought out the food, everyone was able to try the beer and food together.
The second beer was Victory Prima Pils, a pilsner bottled in Downingtown Pennsylvania. It is hoppy and slightly bitter, with a subtle malty flavor. I paired it with a southern-inspired dish: fried green tomatoes topped with a scoop of pimiento cheese and bacon vinaigrette. While this was probably my least favorite beer, it was actually my favorite pairing. The creamy cheese and tangy tomato cut through the bitterness of the pilsner, and the food actually made the beer taste better - which was kind of the whole point of this dinner, right? The fried green tomatoes were a table favorite, and I'm glad I made a few extras - they definitely didn't go uneaten!
Schneider Aventinus Wheat Doppel is the only imported beer that Joey chose, and the highest rated according to ratebeer.com. It is brewed in Kelheim, Germany, and is a Weizen Bock with a full-bodied, but still light and delicate taste. It has a clove-like aroma, and a hint of caramel. It tastes surprisingly light given how dark it is. It pairs well with roasted meats, Mexican food, and fruit. I chose to serve it with molasses-ginger glazed pork loin over Mexican corn salad. The glaze was nice and sweet, but with a spicy kick from the serrano chiles. Several people mentioned that the pork was reminiscent of Korean BBQ. The molasses gave it a great caramelization, and the corn salad was nice and fresh to go along with the pork. This pairing was also a favorite, and the beer was a favorite as well, especially with the men.