Thursday, June 12, 2014

When Surf Meets Turf - Beer Pairing

Beer Pairing Flavors:
Butter sautéed leeks, simmered with potatoes in chicken broth until tender and creamy, then puréed into a smooth, luxurious soup with roasted garlic, milk and cream.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Lemon Tequila Swordfish

Want the wine pair?
The post When Surf Meets Turf – Wine Pairing will take you there.

Want the beer pair?
You've come to the right place.


Sur Lie.

I cannot tell a lie.  It’s pronounced "Sir Lee.”  And from the sound of it, I might imagine a knight of old in shining armor, mounted atop his trusty steed, or perhaps a codgey old schoolmaster, armed only with his ruler and a surly attitude.

Sur Lie.  With images like that, seeing it printed on a bottle doesn't make you feel like you’re gonna have much fun, now, does it.  But you'd be wrong.  For I cannot lie.

And although I might later consider running for office, right now I'm only here with your very best wishes in mind.  Or perhaps, I should make that Brasserie Dupont’s best wishes, for that's just what you'll read on their pretty, green bottle.

“Avec Les Bons Voeux,” with our very best wishes, which means it's time to let the good times roll.  And with summer at the starting line, chomping at the bit, how much more of an invitation could you need?  And all you'll have to do is step right up, pop the cork (just like a wine bubbly) and let your best wishes begin to flow.

Wishing for something with an abundance of bubbly effervescence, that's lemon peppery with clove and a hint of orange zest?  Check.  With a full and deep malty richness that’ll grabs a hold of your tongue and take it on a long joy ride?  Check.  And that won't let it go till it ends in a bittering dryness, that first clears away the malty sweetness and then demands, "Hey, where's my next sip?"  Check, check and re-check.

It's a really special brew, that there's no denying, but of what is that specialness made?  Well firstly, it's a beer with a couple of wine tricks up its sleeve, one is called "bottle conditioning" and the other is known as “sur lie.”

Let’s start with “bottle conditioning,” also known as "bottle re-fermentation," and it’s the original way that beer got its bubbly.  First, priming sugars are added to a beer that has little or no carbonation, giving the beer’s hungry yeast something to whet their appetite.  And as they feast on the sugars, they give off carbon dioxide, that dissolves into the beer, since the bottle is sealed.

It's a natural process that gives beers finer and silkier carbonation, along with better aging ability and more complex flavors.  And it does much the same in the wine world, where it's called “méthode traditionnelle,” and is the way that bubbles find their way into bottles of Champagne.

And as for the “sur lie” that's proudly proclaimed on our beer’s label, it's a French term that translates simply, to "on the lees.”  Lees are the sediment given off after wines or beers are made, and in winemaking, fine wines age atop them, in the cask.  Left to sit “on the lees,” the wine or beer is enriched in flavor, making them fresher and also more full of fruit.

But flavors aren’t only about technique, they’re also about tradition, and “Avec Les Bon Voeux’s,” Brasserie Dupont has one that goes back almost 150 years.

In a previous post, I’d paired their “Saison Vielle Provision” with my Chive Lemon Rack of Lamb, so it's hardly surprising to reach again into their lineup. 

And to do so, I had a great assist from the wonderful palate of Philip Maluso, Beverage Director at Lucky Baldwins Trappiste Pub &Café.  Dropping in for a tasting with my Lemon Tequila Swordfish in hand, several runners-up were sipped before hastily retreating, leaving the Avec Les Bons Vouex standing alone, towering above the rest.  It's another great beer from an outstanding brewery, and I can see why many consider it the brewery's very best.

Golden amber, spicy and yeasty, it's an amped up version of their “Vielle Saison.”  The brew is also unfiltered, which it tells you on the label, so don't be put off by that hazy color in your glass.  For in that haze lies lots of flavor, and you won't be disappointed, so get ready for citrusy lemon, pepper, clove and spice.

Its citrusy, sour tang cut beautifully through the swordfish’s buttery lemon tequila sauce, while the herbal tequila played off nicely against the beer’s earthy mustiness and malt.

In comparison with the Tranche Pinot Gris, you'll be choosing between a wine’s minerality and a beer’s earthy malt.  It's a choice between grape or grain, for they offer different flavors, with the wine’s crisp pear and melon acidity, versus the beer’s sour citric and musty tang.  The beer matches weight with weight, while the wine lifts and lightens.

So, it all comes down to how you want your swordfish to taste in the end.  But, there’s no one right answer, which leaves only one simple question –

Which flavors do you want to savor?

Now, here's a peek at my next dish –

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