Thursday, October 23, 2014

Tart October – Beer Pairing

Beer Pairing Flavors:
Fish fillets baked in a rich citrus herb butter seasoned with freshly squeezed lime juice, lime zest, salt and freshly chopped chives.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Limey Chivey Buttery Fish Fillets

Want the wine pair?
The post Tart October – Wine Pairing will take you there.

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


It's a land of fire and ice.  With active volcanoes and more glaciers than in all of continental Europe.  So, who would suspect in this land of dramatic contrasts, that it's hiding a taste of a Belgium tradition?

But to find that flavor you'll need to travel to the fishing port, Akureyri, in Iceland's northernmost reaches, just 60 miles south of the Arctic Circle.  For it's here where you'll find the Einstök Brewery, with an Icelandic name that translates to "unique."

And unique is not only in their name, but obviously, in their location, since with pride they feature their longitude and latitude on every single bottle, right beside their blue gray logo of a horned helmet clad Viking warrior.

But this Viking is one with a taste for faraway places, and these Icelandics have managed to capture some of its charms.  And so, their twist on a Belgium white beer (called “wit bier” in Flemish), is pale, cloudy and refreshing, and just like I would expect Icelandic weather to be.

And perhaps, that's also why their take on this wheat beer touches on all the right notes.  Unfiltered, as it should be, and sporting high carbonation, it poured into the glass with an ample solid white head.  While loads of carbonation rushing from the bottom of the glass put on a pretty show, on the nose were aromas of brown sugar and coriander, with a hint of orange peel.

Of course, the additions of coriander and orange peel, also mentioned on the label, are very traditional additions to the wit bier style.  And here in Iceland, as they do in Belgium, they add a freshness and a tangyness that make it a perfect summer weather sipper, no matter when your summer weather happens to occur.

Bready-like from the generous wheat and creamy in body from the yeast kept in the beer, the flavor was citrus with a big hit of coriander, tempered in the mid-palate by a taste of sweet malt.

And when we brought on the fish with its pronounced lime flavor, the beer’s coriander took the dish into Thai flavor terrain, with its familiar tastes of coriander and lime.  And while the beer’s effervescence and crispness cut nicely through the flavored butter, the sweet malt in the mid-palate toned down the tangy lime.

And if you'd like to dial up more of the beer’s fresh contrasting crispness, you might consider adding a very light sprinkling of red pepper flake heat.

In comparison with the Txakolina wine pairing, the Icelandic White ale softened the Limey Chivey Buttery Fish Fillets and made the dish more substantial, with the softness of the ale’s bready wheat and sweet malt smoothing out the dish’s angular lime edges.  And for me, the coriander in the beer gave the dish a Thai connection.

The Txakolina in contrast, was all green citrus and minerality and heightened the dish’s acidity while it cut through the butter like a knife.

So it all just depends on your taste – do you prefer a slap of fresh ocean spray from the Basque country or the gentler freshness of coriander and citrus?  There's no one right answer but only one simple question.

Which flavors do you savor?

And now, here’s a peek at what’s coming up next –

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