Thursday, November 13, 2014

Taste the Fire – Beer Pairing

Beer Pairing Flavors:
Bourbon and brown sugar marinated pork, that's cooked with a dry rub of spices before being glazed in a rich, smoky tomato-based sauce full of molasses, bourbon and Dijon.

Want the recipe?
Here’s a link back to the Bourbon Barbecued Pork Chops

Want the wine pair?
The post Taste the Fire – Wine Pairing will take you there.

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


Playing with smoke and fire in the brewer’s kitchen. 

That about sums up the story that I heard mentioned, about how this brew went from mind to bottle.

And it all started out about eight years ago, back in 2006, when a Stone Brewing Co. brewer, traveling south of the US border, returned from a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. 

But he didn't return alone, for he’d brought back some flavors for a concept - smoked jalapeños, that are commonly known as chipotle peppers.

And as for the concept, it would be an Old World/New World flavor mash-up of northern Old World warmth with southern New World tropical smoke and fiery heat.

Originally dubbed, “South of the Border Stone Smoked Porter," the rhymey name was later replaced with the more manageable one listed above, on the bottle.  But they had the right idea, throwing flavors and rhymes together, until they could find one that could really stick.  And what they found was a whole new flavor – part Porter, part smoke and part tropical heat.

For this tribute to heat, fire and smoke also has peat smoked malt in the grain bill, which adds a smoky roastiness to this flavorful brew. 

And then it's time for the New World’s flavor contribution of tobacco, chocolate and a rounded, complex heat.  Originating in Teotihuacan, one of the largest long gone ancient cities in northern Mexico, "chipotle" comes from the Aztec word, "chilpoctli,”  from "chili" meaning "pepper" and "poctli” meaning "smoked."

One of the earliest ways used to keep foods from spoiling, smoking was the way the Aztecs cooked meats for storage.  And with the jalapeños thick skins rotting in the sun when left out to dry, slow smoking preserved the chilis with an added bonus of smoky flavor.

Today, commonly used in slowly cooked soups, stews and braises, it seems they've found a new home by adding their richness to slowly cooked beer.

Deep dark brown in the glass, with a creamy, pillowy, tan head with good retention, Stone’s Smoked Porter with Chipotle Peppers releases aromas of caramel, dark chocolate and roasted malt with a hint of smoke.  The taste begins, at first, with roasted malts, followed by sweet smokiness and then toffee, before the pepper kicks in and starts its slow build.  But the warmth is controlled, held in check by the chewy caramel and roasted malts, and then lingers long in a prolonged aftertaste of warming heat and chipotle smoke.

But when Porter mingled with barbecue, then a curious thing happened.  Each sip of the Smoked Porter wiped away the sauce’s earthy heat and tomato and replaced them with black coffee and dark chocolate, all wrapped up in smokey malt with a lingering warmth.  However, the beer’s palate cleansing effect made the very next bite of barbecue, with its char, tomato and earthy spice even more powerful, and made for a pairing of power meets power.

In comparison, the Las Rocas de San Alejandro Garnacha amplified the heat of the tomatoey, earthy accented sauce, while the Smoked Porter refreshed by contrast, replacing its coffee and dark chocolate maltiness with the barbecue’s tangy and earthy tomato.

The wine pairing enhanced through common flavors of warmth and dark, spicy fruit, while the beer emboldened flavors by contrast, making for a pairing both dramatic and dynamic.

Both boosted the dish’s flavors, but went about them in different ways and with different results.  So, the choice is all yours, which partner you prefer to do the pairing.  But remember, there's no one right answer, but only one simple question:

Which flavors do you savor?

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