Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beer #359-396 / Day 62-69: The Extreme Foodism Of An Outspokenly Anti-Foodie, Yet Secretly Foodie Non-Foodie

My sis-in-law, Lori Jonasson, sent me a link last month about pairing beer with Girl Scout cookies.  I try to avoid posing as a food expert, like the billions of wannabe Foodies out there (I spend enough time as a wannabe beer nerd), because I know my palate is far from perfect.  But the allure of something so silly was undeniable.  And by chance, I had ordered some Girl Scout cookies recently.  Plus I had a few of the noted beers in my stockpile.
For as much of a novelty as the article is, there is one pairing I found particularly appealing, and well played:  Tagalongs, a chocolate covered peanut butter mound, with Wells & Young Banana Bread Beer.  Sheer genius.  Fat Elvis would undoubtedly approve.
The article also recommended Trefoils, a very plain shortbready cookie, with a couple different stouts.  I had a few Trefoils with the Fifty Fifty B.A.R.T. and it was damn pleasing.  Then again a shortbread cookie is like a plain canvas.  Something slightly sweet with minimal character can pair with freakin' anything!  I had Trefoils with several other non-heavy beers, and it was equally as great.  I even tried one with the Evil Twin Hipster Ale, which just a well-rounded pale ale, and it paired well...
... All of which leads me to believe most food and alcohol pairings are a crock of shit.  Think about it.  Would you ever pair chocolate and ketchup?  Hell no!  That sounds disgusting.  But would you ever order a burger and a chocolate shake?  Aha!  Given the context, you can make most things work.  I'd have no problem making a BBQ sauce with a ketchup base, and adding a bit of chocolate to it.  Makes sense, along with other seemingly adverse ingredients like cinnamon, molasses, or sugar.
Take my earlier post about my revelation of spicy food and IPAs.  How many spicy food joints (think Asian or Indian) offer IPAs on their menus?  Not a whole hell of a lot.  They all offer super bland Asian lagers, that are fun to drink only because you get to read a weird label and get to brag about drinking this oddball beer.  I ordered a super hoppy Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' IPA with my super spicy bowl of ramen, and it was a match made in heaven.  The hop bomb cut through the heat of the dish, but the heat of the dish didn't nullify the hops.  The oddball combo happened to be the best one yet.
I continued my quest for a multitude of unique brews this past week, and even improvised cooking with beer  in a semi-inebriated state, and everything came out delicious. My Wife will confirm.  No cookbooks:  just intuition, and a desire to attempt something new.
Piggybacking on the idea of pairing IPA with spicy food, I made a ghost pepper salsa with dehydrated peppers courtesy of my pal Marvelous Marvin Harris.  Some grape tomatoes, minced garlic, cilantro, cumin, coriander, salt, and ghost peppers, with a couple pulses in a food processor.  Done.  At the same time I opened a Pike Brewing IPA, a beer I didn't get to enjoy in Seattle last weekend, but strangely enough, stumbled across at Total Wine & More in Northridge this past week.  The ghost peppers weren't burn-your-face-off hot, I'm guessing because they were dehydrated, and hence, not super oily, as it's the chili oil that sticks with you.  Good flavor, and good match-up of brew & eats.
I've already claimed the Ballast Point Sea Monster Imperial Stout in my Big Year, and had an extra bottle, so I used a good amount of it to marinate a rack of ribs, with a dash of soy sauce and a hint of hot sauce for complexity.  50 min on the grill with some mesquite smoke, wrapped in foil for 20 min, and slathered with homemade BBQ sauce. Even tastier than expected.  The stout gave it an unexpected deep cocoa aftertaste which was different, but totally worked with the infused smoke and mild heat of the barbecue sauce.
The next evening, I dug out a few Hangar 24 bottles, leftover from my BDay Beer Party, and made Alt-Bier Ale Chicken Wings.  I usually use a stout for slow cooking chicken wings, but I went for a well-rounded ale, and they came out just as awesome.  Coat the wings with some salt, pepper, garlic power, and paprika, brown them in a pan with olive oil, then add to a baking dish with the beer, fresh minced garlic, and sriracha. Pop in in the oven at medium-low heat for 2 hours or more.  Done! And crazy delicious.
 You don't have to watch a million Food Network "challenge" shows, or follow any recipe to a T.  Just have a general understanding of what you enjoy, and throw it together.  It won't always work, but if you have half a brain, it will come out tasty more than half the time. 
As far as I'm concerned, Foodie Snobs can eat it.  So to speak.

The tally continues:

Monday 3/3 - Back home from Seattle:
  • ABITA BREWING MARDI GRAS BOCK - Beer #359, not amazing
  • EPIC BREWING BRAINLESS BELGIAN STYLE GOLDEN ALE - Beer #360, one of the very few unopened bottles from my BDay, courtesy of Matt Domino.  Good one!
Tuesday 3/4 - One of the only Tuesday nights that Infest didn't practice, otherwise my count would have been twice as much:
  • FULLER, SMITH & TURNER 1845 ENGLISH STRONG ALE - Beer #363, pretty good
Wednesday 3/5 - Home again with the lovely Mrs.:
  • BROUWERIJ VAN STEENBERGE PIRAAT - Beer #364, a classic
  • EINSTOK OLGERD ICELANDIC WHITE ALE - Beer #365, better than I remember
  • BROUWERIJ VAN STEENBERGE MONK'S CAFE FLEMISH SOUR ALE - Beer #366, not crazy sour, actually more sweet and sour, fun to sip, and would double as a great salad dressing
Thursday 3/6 - Home yet again... am I setting an new record?:
  • ANDERSON VALLEY BOONT AMBER ALE - Beer #367, Holy Christ, I've been wrapped up in beer snobbery for so long I've neglected some truly great everyday beers like this one.  Seen this at every major grocery store since I can remember, but goddamn, what a great beer!  An amber with powerful hops.
  • EVIL TWIN BREWING HIPSTER ALE - Beer #368, excellent pale ale, I'm nuts about Evil Twin, one of the only times I'll ever say I'm proud to be a hipster.
Friday 3/7 - Home again?  What am I, a loser?  Naw, just enjoying rare moments not being on-the-go.  Pizza and beer night:
  • CISCO BREWERS THE GREY LADY - Beer #369, a top of the line witbier, so much more going on than your average wheat beer, spicy and complex, I've quickly become a fan of this brewery.
  • SPEAKEASY SCARLETT RED RYE - Beer #370, I haven't been much a Speakeasy supporter until now.  This is a truly great beer.  Lots going on.  Not the cheap, knock-off label I wrote it off as, up until this moment.
  • AVERY BREWING NEW WORLD PORTER - Beer #371, a limited porter from this standout label, although not my favorite effort from them.
Saturday 3/8 - All bets are off... tasting 16 new beers at Vendome (plus a few repeats), then drinkin' back home:
  • INNSTADT BRAUEREI EXTRA SCHWARZE - Beer #372, schwarzbier with major anise, good and surprisingly light
  • STILLWATER SENSORY SERIES V2 SMALL BLACK - Beer #373, a schwarzbier / saison mash-up, I'd expect nothing less adventurous from Stillwater
  • NORTH COAST OLD NO. 38 STOUT - Beer #374, damn good, when it comes to North Coast, I always avoid this in favor of Old Rasputin. This is a solid beer.  An easy drinking stout with depth.  Sure as hell doesn't taste like 5.6%.
  • ALMANAC BIERE DE CHOCOLAT - Beer #375, I love all things Almanac, but this was a bit heavy handed on the cocoa, even for a true groupie.
  • BROUWERIJ HET ANKER LUCIFER - Beer #376, yeasty, unique, caramelly, nice but glad I had a taster instead of a full glass.
  • BIERE DU BOUCANIER GOLDEN ALE - Beer #377, a buttery bale of hay in a glass
  • EPIC BREWING ELDER BRETT SAISON BRET GOLDEN ALE - Beer #378, you can taste that wild yeast, a real heavyweight.
  • UINTA CROOKED LINE TINDER RAUCHBIER - Beer #379, liquid campfire, where's the marshmallows?
  • ALESMITH HORNY DEVIL - Beer #380, sugary, yeasty, friggin' delish!
  • GREEN FLASH LE FREAK - Beer #381, Belgian Trippel / Imperial IPA hybrid.  Love it.
  • VICTORY V12 - Beer #382, Whoa! Heavy like a barleywine, intense, slightly sweet, kinda hoppy. 
  • TELEGRAPH RHINOCEROS - Beer #383, A barleywine style ale with rye malt, delicious and not cloying at all.
  • UNIBROUE TERRIBLE - Beer #384, a classic
  • SPEAKEASY SYNDICATE SERIES 01 VINTAGE ALE AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS - Beer #385, good gravy... just as toothsome as it sounds.
  • BROUWERIJ DE MOLEN HEL & VEDOEMENIS ALE AGED IN BOURBON BARRELS - Beer #386, A five-star beer if there ever was one.  Not heavy, but incredibly complex, mildly sweet, barrelly goodness, mild cocoa and malt depth.  The label says "Enjoy within 25 years". Not a problem.
  • RJ ROCKERS BREWING BELL RINGER - Beer #387, maybe the Vendome tasting spoiled me, but this beer was so unimpressive, most of it went down the sink. Sorry, I never do that, but it seemed fitting.
  • UNCOMMON BREWERS SIAMESE TWIN ALE - Beer #388, exemplary brew from a mysterious Santa Cruz outfit.  I need to team up with South Bay local Chris W. and track these guys down.
 Sunday 3/9 - Perfect Sunday afternoon to sit outside, read, snack, grill, and drink:
  • FLYING FISH BREWING EXIT 4 AMERICAN TRIPPEL - Beer #389, exceptionally good tripel style from this NJ brewer.  Haven't had a bad Flying Fish brew yet.
  • PIKE BREWING IPA - Beer #390, strangely I was in Seattle the week before and never got to try a Pike Brewing beer, but back home this week, I found a few Pike bottles for the first time in SoCal. Good timing. Great beer.  Paired well with my ghost pepper salsa.
  • BAYHAWK ALES ZAPPA BREWS NELSON IPA - Beer #391, I had this on tap last Dec and it was incredible; this time out of the bottle, not as staggering. A good one, but much MUCH better if there's a fresh keg around.
  • CLOWN SHOES HOPPY FEET BLACK IPA - Beer #392, Consistently great brewer. This is no exception.  The Hoppy Feet 1.5 is even better, from what I recall.
  • MENDOCINO BREWING IMPERIAL STOUT - Beer #393, Overall very good, would make a terrific everyday stout
  • FLYING DOG GONZO IMPERIAL PORTER - Beer #394, the whole Ralph Steadman thing jumped the shark in the '80s as far as I'm concerned, but this beer and this brewer are consistently reliable
Monday 3/10 - Blogging tonight, at this very moment:
  • CORONADO / CIGAR CITY COLLABORATION JURATA BALTIC PORTER - Beer #395, the first glass is great, the second glass is perfection.
  • CISCO BREWERS WHALE'S TALE PALE ALE - Beer #396, Really unique pale, as the label says "fruity hops", hard to describe, but crazy good like all other Ciscos I've tried.

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