Beer Chat: Beer & Desset Pairings
Dessert and beer are very much alike. They are both treats which are often enjoyed as a reward for something. Whether an anniversary of life, the end of a long hard day, or just because, their similarities for indulging are many. When paired together, they are often sublime.
As the craft beer movement continues to gain steam, so does the appreciation of pairing beer and food. The synergies and possibilities are nearly limitless because the flavor, aroma and texture of a beer are so easily controlled by the brewer that anything is possible. That being said, the marriage between beer and dessert can be especially sweet.
As long as a few easy guidelines are followed, beer pairing is a cinch. Probably the most important rule is to make sure both the beer and dessert are similar in intensity. Pairing mild flavored beer with rich food, or vice versa, the stronger will overpower and drown out the more delicate one.
Another consideration is complementing flavors, like a chocolate dessert with a dark roasty stout. When likeminded flavors are paired together they work harmoniously to elevate each other. You can also pair contrasting flavors to create balance. Bitterness, acidity, spiciness and alcohol are counter balanced by sweetness, which opens up a whole world of possibilities. Using these simple tips, here are a few must tries.
Schneider Aventinus & Apple Pie
Aventinus is a delicious German made Weizenbock, which is basically a Bock strength version of a Dunkelweizen. What does that mean? It’s a brown wheat beer of around 8% alcohol by volume with a rich toasty caramel malt character and surprisingly evident banana and clove complexity from the yeast. While the beer is relatively sweet to taste, it still has somewhat of a drier finish. These characteristics play brilliantly with a warm slice of classic American apple pie. The cinnamon and nutmeg dance with the spicy clove yeast phenolics. The banana esters and cooked apple create depth and complexity of fruit. The baked crust and toasty malt create a whole new pastry of their own.
Boulevard Chocolate Ale & Crème Brûlée
One of the Kansas City brewery’s most sought after beers is a rich, amber colored, chocolate flavored ale that was brewed in collaboration with the famous chocolatier, Christopher Elbow. Many would think first of a dark roasty stout when they first imagine a beer by this name, but the focus here is purely on rich decadent chocolate with the malt component merely there to put the star flavor on display. Paired with the patent French vanilla custard dessert, the vanilla and chocolate are like a symphony. The high alcohol cuts the cream while the hard caramelized crust makes the sweet malt pop. It’s simply to die for.
Founders Dirty Bastard & Mexican Hot Chocolate Cake
Dirty Bastard is a strong Scotch-style ale, also known as a “Wee Heavy”. The style is incredibly rich in malt profile due to kettle caramelization which is the result of the brewers boiling the wort sometimes two to three times longer than a normal beer. This brewing technique, along with a colder than normal fermentation, creates an almost opulent, clean caramel malt character. This unabashed sweetness paired with the heat from the capsaicin of the peppers is what contrasting balance is all about. And while the sweetness of the cake calms the sweetness of the beer, the chocolate adds further complexity to the caramel explosion.
Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Urbock & Cinnamon Roll
This pairing is for you Nebraska. Rauchbier, literally meaning “smoke beer”, is a lager-style beer brewed with a heavy amount of beechwood-smoked malt. The German brewery Schlenkerla’s Urbock version is rich and sweet with the flavor of toasted bread crust along with an undeniably pronounced smoke character. The marriage of the malt and smoke give off what many perceive as hearty charred meat and even bacon. While the thought of beer tasting like meat may sound odd to some, be assured that it is nothing short of fantastic. Nebraska has long enjoyed the contrasting balance of a rich meaty bowl of chili paired with a sweet cinnamon roll (yes out-of-towners, this is a thing here). Much in the same way, the sweet cinnamon and frosting go head-to-head with the smoky meatiness and umami-like savory notes of this Rauchbier, while the malt enhances the pastries buttery dough.
Jason is a Certified Cicerone, ranked National as a BJCP judge (Beer Judge Certification Program), is a craft beer aficionado, a writer for the Nebraska Beer Blog, and award winning homebrewer living in Lincoln. Jason spends time traveling around the country judging beer competitions, and attending related events. Beer tasting and evaluation is his passion, and he can appreciate a great example of any style regardless of hype.
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