Tag Archive | "beer and food pairing"

Beer of the Week: Big Sky IPA

Opening a beer doesn’t generally remind me of wine, but the Big Sky IPA is an exception.

I opened a bottle recently and discovered a huge explosion of caramel sweetness and flowers bursting forth in the aroma, in keeping with some India pale ales, though perhaps not at quite this intensity. And there was just the right amount of hoppiness bitterness on the palate. Nice.

And just like one of favorite summertime wines, the Argentine Torrontés, which smells floral and sweet but is dry and crisp in your mouth.

But enough about wine. Back to the beer.

Big  Sky IPA poured a rich copper color with one finger of foam that lingered quite a while.

Those intense aromas carried over into the taste, as caramel, flavors of wheat, a touch of orange and herbs mixed with that hoppy bitterness, all leading to a lengthy finish that had a metallic touch.

I enjoyed this brew with a spicy Caribbean-style oxtail stew and let the various spices in both beer and stew complement each other. the same would be true for pairing this with Mexican street tacos with plenty of onion and cilantro on top or grilled burgers with pickles and, again, onions on a whole wheat bun.

This beer comes from Big Sky Brewing is in Missoula, Mont., an area that has plenty of sky indeed — and now it has beers with enough flavor to match.

Brew notes

A new brewery, Busted Sandal Brewing Company, has plans on opening in SA later this year.

According to the company’s website, the “nanobrewery” will specialize in small craft brews made with locally sourced seasonal ingredients: “We are full of brewing energy! Our ambition is to privately brew 20 concept batches in 18 weeks! In November, members of the ‘secret taster’s circle’ will judge the concept batches. From these 20 beers we will select only our best to move forward with. By this time, we will be very close to beginning pilot batch brewing and will begin opening our tasting events to the public!”

The company is the work of brewer and founder Michael DiCicco, “brewchitect” Robert Garza and brewer Joseph Alvarado, who is also responsible for brand development. Follow them on Twitter @bustedsandal for more details.


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Beer of the Week: Singha Lager Beer

In case you hadn’t noticed, it’s hot. Even after the sun sets and a breeze kicks in, it’s all just a lot of hot air moving about and making things hotter.

That means it’s the perfect time for a beer whose purpose is to take the edge off the heat. One such beer is Singha Lager.

This Thai brew is a great counterbalance to the incendiary dishes of its home country, so, in its way, it fights heat on two levels.

I had a couple of bottles the other night at Siam Cuisine, 6032 FM 3009. It was the first time I’d enjoyed the beer in perhaps a year, and I was won over again almost instantly. One sip and I felt refreshed as flavors of malt and citrus went down easily, like any good thirst quencher, and prepared me for the food to come.

Singha is Thailand’s premier beer and, until recently, its top seller. It’s a fine example of a pale lager, with a lovely yellow color that shone in the setting sun. It poured with a generous head that lingered for a few minutes.

The aroma was pure malt while the flavor, as I mentioned, was malty with a tingly lemon acidity and a slight hoppy bitterness. But more than the flavor is the clean feeling that it leaves in your mouth as it goes down.

Pair that with a fiery stir-fry of pork, vegetables, mushrooms and noodles or a mild dish of beef with eggplant. The beer prepares you for the next bite, whether the seasonings you’re enjoying are lemon grass, basil and galangal root or red hot chiles and coconut milk.

So, chill out with a Singha. By the way, Wikipedia says the correct pronunciation is sing, which is fairly apt, as it will likely have you singing for more.


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Beer of the Week: Alaskan Summer

Alaskan Summer

Alaskan beer is actually from Alaska. It’s not some marketing name or gimmick designed to make you think of a drink that’s cold and frosty.

The brewery, opened in the late 1980s by beer lovers Marci and Geoff Larson, was the first in Juneau since Prohibition, according to the website.

Over the years, it has developed a lengthy lineup of brews, including a kolsch-style ale called Summer that is a real charmer, especially when you get it iced down.

Kolsch ales are made in the style of a German brew noted for its harmony of flavors in a light style that’s refreshing in the heat — and Alaskan certainly gets that down pat.

Alaskan Summer

Pop the cap on a bottle, pour it into a pint glass and you notice a golden ale that shimmers in the light. The head is decent, about 1 to 2 fingers, but it dissipates fairly quickly into a lacy ring around the edge.

Aromas of apple, caramel, hoppy flowers and malt are all swirling about together, none more dominant than any other. That carries over into the flavor, which is pleasantly bitter and sweet with all of those aromas carrying over to the palate.

What you’ll notice most is how clean it all, from the fine fizz on the tongue to the finish. That makes it so easy to have a couple.

When pairing this with food, remember to keep it light. Spicy Mexican food would likely overpower it, but grilled sausages or bratwurst, a four-cheese pizza or a cold Italian sub would all be great.

So, if you can’t get to Alaska this summer to chill off, just grab an Alaskan Summer. It’ll take the edge off the heat, at least for a while.

I found it at H-E-B for $1.49 a bottle.

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Beer of the Week: Peroni Nastro Azzurro



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





Peroni Nastro Azzuro

I’m headed to Italy in a few weeks, so I’ve decided to learn a few important words. I felt lucky to have found the website “Ordering Beer in Italian,” which offers a few key phrases, such as “Dove posso ottenere una buoa birra?” (Where can I order a good beer?)

Or I could just remember to ask for a Peroni Nastro Azzuro. Un Peroni  should do it.

Peroni is one of Italy’s top lagers, and it’s quite refreshing in the summer with seafood or just a good hunk of bread with butter and maybe some salami and cheese. Simple, but effective. Just the way the Italians like their food.

The beer pours a clear hay or straw color into the glass, with a nose that releases a yeasty quality mixed with a grassy tone and floral hops. I have had bottles with an odd aroma underlying those scents, but it was missing on a recent tasting.

There is a sweetness mixed in with the flavors of bread, grass and bitter hops before leaving on a clean note.

It’s not complex, just enjoyable. Just what il dottore ordered.

At the Lion and Rose, pair this beauty with fish and chips, Dockland’s shrimp and chips, Langostino Tilapia or a Portsmouth Po’boy overstuffed with fried clam strips.

And, ciao.


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Beer of the Week: Five Beers That Go with Ham



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





What's on tap for Easter?

Sunday is Easter, and hams are practically flying out of the supermarket. So, many possibilities await home cooks. You could dress it up sweet with a honey glaze or brown sugar. You could go savory with mustard and spices. You could go salty with a country ham or smoke it until it boasts a great hickory or pecan flavor.

All these possibilities mean a host of possibilities for the beer that you want to go with dinner.

Here are five brews we have featured in the past and reasons why each would go with that centerpiece.

Franziskaner Weissbier: This German beauty is great with ham and other light foods. Notes of clove and coriander on both the nose and in the flavor make it a great companion to the old-fashioned but ever-welcome style of covering your ham with pineapple slices adhered with cloves. My mom used to make ham like that, and it’s still a crowd-pleaser.

Lindemans Pomme Lambic: Pork and apples are natural companions, so why not try an apple-flavored brew with ham of any style? Lindemans’ lineup of lambic is a great choice if you want to serve people who think they don’t like beer.

Smithwick’s: This Irish ale is rich and fruity with a pleasant touch of bitterness, just right if you’re going with a smoky ham or even with grilled ham steaks. It also will like your mashed potatoes and most all of your side dishes.

Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde Ale: This local brew night not be the best match with a ham that’s been heavily sweetened, but it’s versatile enough to go with just about every other style, from country ham to one rubbed in a mustard sauce. It’s also coolly refreshing if you’re having a picnic in the heat.

Bard’s Sorghum Malt Beer: This is a great addition if any of your guests are avoiding gluten, but it’s also a fine enough brew to hold its own against a honey-glazed ham.

Happy Easter!

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Beer of the Week: Belhaven Scottish Ale



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.




Belhaven Scottish Ale

It’s amazing that the people of Scotland can be known for producing both the magnificent complexity of finely aged Scotch and the bizarre oddity that is haggis, a mash of sheep’s organs (heart, liver and lungs) with oatmeal, suet and seasonings.

Thankfully, the Scottish brew Belhaven is more like the former than the latter. This is one beautiful brew, marked by its rusty appearance, with flashes of red and copper. When you pour it, the off-white head climbs fairly high but dissipates relatively quickly to a nice lace.

A nutty aroma with the sweet pull of toffee greets your nose with subtle notes of malt, yeast and even coffee rounding out the edges.

Pleasant, yes, but not as enjoyable as the flavor. Malt and coffee mingle more forceful on the palate than in the bouquet, with hops and caramel offering a delicious balancing act of bitter and sweet.The finish is dry and delicious, making this eminently quaffable. So, have another print and enjoy responsibly.

It’s fairly easy to pair this ale with food. Think of anything with beef and you should be happy. At the Lion and Rose, that could be one of the steaks or the Sidekick Burgers, sliders worth sharing with friends as a meaty snack. Shepherd’s Pie, with its dense potato topping covering slow-cooked beef, or even a pasty, a kind of British empanada with ground beef, potato, onion and more in pastry and crowned in onion gravy.

It might even go well with haggis, but, thankfully, that’s not on the menu at the Lion and Rose.

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Beer of the Week: Red Stripe



Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.




Red Stripe Lager

I’ve been drinking Red Stripe for so long now that I forget not everybody knows — and loves — this Jamaican brew as much as I do.

But I found myself recommending it to someone who’d never tried it, so I decided to spread the gospel a little further in case there are more of you who haven’t given it a try.

This is a beer well suited to San Antonio, because it was meant for people who like to party and want something oh-so-easy to drink.

I think the makers of this brew go out of their way to make something enjoyable and as smooth as possible without being watered down for mass consumption. In other words, there’s more to Red Stripe than you’ll find in many American beers.

Pour it into a tall stein and you will get a decent layer of foam on top of a golden brew. The head dies down, but not too quickly.

The nose is faint and pleasant, no funky yeast aromas. Just a light, sea breeze call of sweetness and a faint, floral note of hops.

The hops carry over into the flavor, but not in a bitter way. They just sort of slide into a malty presence that tingles your taste buds. And the mellow flavors continue from front to back of the mouth.

In short, it’s beer — really good beer. The kind you can drink a six-pack of on a hot afternoon when you don’t have to go anywhere. Or the kind you stock for a party when you know you’ll have some finicky drinkers on hand.

It’s the kind of beer who sip while watching a soccer game on one of the TVs at Lion and Rose. Kick back with a basket of Bloke’s Mushrooms, beer-battered buttoncaps with ranch dressing, or share an order of the deep-fried Onion Petals. Lager goes great with just about everything, so have your fill of the rest of the menu, from the South Bank Spinach Salad to the Portsmouth Po’Boy filled with fried clam strips to the Vegetarian Pita with hummus.

And let the party begin.

Happy New Year and may your beer choices prosper in 2012.

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Beer of the Week: Wells Banana Bread Beer


Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.





Wells Banana Bread Beer

And now for something completely different.

What else could you say about a beer that promises the flavor of banana bread?

Naturally, the first thing you’ll do is read the label to clarify matters, but that won’t help much entirely. Sure, it tells you the beer is made in Bedford, England, by Wells and Young. And it does remind us that beer has long been known as liquid bread, so that explains the bread part of it. And it is made with bananas, free-trade bananas actually.

But then it goes on to say that it’s made with something called banoffee, a word that sent me to the dictionary. It’s “a filling for a pie, consisting of toffee and banana,” according to, and the word is a combination of “banana” and “toffee.” Makes sense, but what doesn’t is the overriding question of whether banana has a place in beer.

The only way to answer that is to pop the top and take in a good strong breath. Sure enough, bananas, ripe and artificial, seem to emerge from the bottle along with a sweet sense mixed with malt, giving the feeling of, you guessed it, banana bread.

Pour the beauty into a glass and notice the coppery color tumble into it. A medium head forms and quickly dissipates into a nice lace on the rim of the brew.

Take a sip and you’ll notice at least two things at once. One is that, yes, it tastes like banana bread, although perhaps the flavor is not quite as forceful as the aroma. The other is that it is not as sweet as it smells; the toffee is kept in check.

Then the rest of the beer’s flavors come into the picture. There’s a pleasant warm spice feeling, suggestive of mace or allspice, and the finish is quite dry, clean and hoppy. There isn’t a great deal of carbonation, so it’s soft in the mouth, yet a good sip leaves your taste buds tingling and anticipating more.  It’s not exactly complex; in fact, it is little more than what the label says it is: banana beer bread.

If you’re still not convinced, perhaps you’ll want to share this brew over a dessert at the Lion and Rose. The one that springs naturally to mind is the Sticky Toffee Pudding, which is not made with banoffee, but has the requisite, delicious sweetness to match it. The King’s Bread Pudding or the Pear William Cake with its Bavarian pear mousse would also work beautifully.

By the way, my pet cockatoo, who eats a fingerling banana every day, also gave his approval to a drop that he had.

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Beer of the Week: Smithwick’s Superior Irish Ale


Beer of the Week is sponsored by the Lion & Rose. Each week, we introduce you to a wonderful brew that’s a little bit different and well worth seeking out.



Smithwick’s Superior Irish Ale

Smithwick’s (pronounced Smith’icks or Smiddicks, with the middle kept soft on the tongue) has been around since 1710. That doesn’t give it the right to call itself “superior.”

What does is the quality of the product. It truly is superior.

If all you know of Irish beer is Guinness or perhaps Harp, then you’re in for a treat with this exceptional brew.

Its color is reddish brown, and it is clear in the glass with a nice head. With one sniff, you’ll take in a heady mix of fruit, floral hops and a touch of caramel. The feel in the mouth is medium bodied, smooth and invigorating. The feel of the bubbles on your tongue make you wnat ot rach for another sip.

The flavors are a lively blend of fruity sweet (think peaches or apricots) and pleasantly bitter with a touch of roasted coffee toward the clean, dry finish.

If you want to pair it with food, Smithwick’s is great with rustic Irish or British fare, such as a plate of bangers and mash. Actually, any kind of mild sausage, from Italian sweet to German bratwurst, would work, too. So would Colcannon or cabbage by itself.

Smithwick’s Superior Irish Ale is available at the Lion & Rose on tap, $5.75 for a 16-ounce glass, $7.25 for a 22-ounce pour. You can find a six-pack at specialty beer sections.



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