Thursday, July 3, 2014

Quite a Catch - Beer Pairing

Beer Pairing Flavors:
Ahi tuna, coated with toasted sesame oil, then sprinkled with dried orange zest, chili pepper, ginger and toasted sesame seeds, before being quickly pan seared and finished with a sake pan sauce.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Double Sesame Seared Tuna

Want the wine pair?
The post Quite a Catch – Wine Pairing will take you there.

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


As the beers lined up, glass to glass at the starting line, the tension was simply palpable in the big room.  A few onlookers scanned the scene, clinking their glasses nervously, as they sized up the considerable competition. 

All worthy warriors, it was a lineup of heavy hitters hand-picked by taste master Philip Maluso of Lucky Baldwins, and ready to do battle until only one would be left standing.  But who?

Only time knew the answer to that question, and he, or maybe it’s she, wasn't talking.

As the clock continued slowly ticking downward, here, approaching the starting line, was the trophy – the prize. 

Double Sesame Seared Tuna.  Meaty, substantial and toasty, with just a hint of spicy heat.

And as the beers’ foamy heads were rising up in the glass. suddenly, echoing off the walls, were the words the room was waiting to hear –

May the best match win!

And with that command, we were off and running.  The first beer out of the gate was a short and stocky fellow nicknamed “King Kong.”  And at 13% alcohol, this was a dude who wasn't messing around.  He didn’t move fast.  He usually didn't need to, but figured that if he made the first move, he'd just crush the competition before it even made it out of the gate.

Big in body and heavy in caramel with notes of prune, date and brandy, “Scaldis Noël” was a formidable competitor.  In training since his holiday release, this strong Christmas ale had been raised well by his family, Brasserie Dubuisson. 
As the oldest brewery in Wallonia, the Fench-speaking part of Belgium, they'd been brewing continuously since 1769 and knew a thing or two about producing big winners.

Made with water, hops, candi sugar and large quantities of caramel malt, it’s then fermented at higher than normal temperatures to push the alcohol level up.  It's a King Kong indeed and it takes no prisoners, with a Cognac like finish that's long, warming and dry.

But big was too bold for the job here at hand.  Not crushing, but caressing would capture this prize.

Philip signaled a foul.  Too heavy with the caramel way over the top.  The tuna was being obliterated – the crusher would have to go.  And with his departure, Philip’s new set of recruits arrived at the table, with a different strategy to capture the crown.

And stepping to the fore was the next leading contender, who was definitely one that was more dialed back.  No King Kong here, except for the faintest whiff of banana.  Or maybe I should make that caramelized banana.

“Kwak” was his name, and he hailed from Brouwerij Bosteels (Brewery Bosteels) where they'd anointed him with his own distinctive glass.  With a rounded bulb base and a long flared neck, it's a glass held upright in a tall wooden stand.  Kwak appeared today minus his special glass, but yet he was still an able competitor.  Amber colored, with a dense, creamy head, the nose held an earthy richness of toffee, apples and pears.  Full-bodied and malty, with a note of sour in the attack, the finish was slightly bitter and lingering with hints of dried orange zest.

The match was becoming closer, with less alcohol and heavy caramel malt, but one last contender still awaited in the wings.

And out stepped “Isid’or” of La Trappe in the Netherlands.  At 7½% alcohol, this Belgian Trappist ale was the lowest yet, and named after Brother Isidorus, the Abbey’s first brewer.

Only one of 10 Trappist breweries worldwide, the De Koningshoeven Brewery is one of two found in the Netherlands, and has been brewing beers at their Cisterian Abbey since 1884.

Amber, mixed with a deep orange sherbet in color, the unfiltered brew has a nose of sweet maltiness from its Belgian candied sugar.  Also bottle conditioned (meaning its fermentation process continues in the bottle), this tribute to Isid’or is one that’s full of flavor.  With a moderate mouthfeel accompanied by notes of mineral and earth, it finishes with a slightly sweet aftertaste with a hint of caramel. 

Finally, our winner had arrived and it was just a perfect match.  With its slightly sweet caramel aftertaste, it blended seamlessly with the sweet note of the reduced sake, while the beer’s mineral flavors formed another bridge with the dish’s earthy toasted sesame seeds.  And then, to seal the deal, Isid’or’s long and tangy finish cleared away all the sake sweetness, making you ready to start all over again when you take another bite.

And lastly, the choice of choices. The Domaines Ott Rosé played off the Double Sesame Seared Tuna’s sweetness and dense meatiness with a vibrant and fresh, crisp acidity, bringing what could be a weightier dish into the full summer sun. 

While, on the other hand, the La Trappe Isid’or displayed a skillful set of diplomacy, by both giving and then taking, and then giving and taking again.  Forming alliances with both caramel sweetness and earthy toast, and then taking it all away with a finish of tangy hops.  While the wine was direct and as simple as a summer breeze, the beer played off complexity, with a round table game of caramel, toast and hops.

So, it all comes down to how you want your tuna to taste in the end.  And there's no one right answer, but only one simple question –

Which flavors do you want to savor?

Now, here's a peek at what’s coming up next –

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