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Tag Archive | "food and beer pairing"

Beer of the Week: Harp Lager


 

 

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.

 

 

 

Harp Lager

Let’s face it. You can’t just dye any beer green for St. Patrick’s Day. Anything but a light-colored beer will take on a rather unappetizing color that can interfere with your drinking enjoyment.

So, let me suggest that if dying your beer green is a high priority for you in the next week, then get yourself some Harp Lager.

First off, it’s Irish, with the harp on the label being the same as that on its parent, Guinness.

Second, it’s a fine lager with plenty to recommend in terms of flavor.

When you pour the beer from the bottle, you’ll notice its light straw color. A hefty foam rises quickly and settles down to a nice lacey rim around the edge.

The aroma is sweet and yeasty, with notes of bread, malt and a slight touch of floral hops.

The scents carry over into the taste, with flavors of grain and a pleasant hoppy bitterness dominating in a light yet sure way. There’s a clean finish that makes it all uncomplicated and so easy to love.

That simplicity makes this an easy beer to pair with all your Irish and Irish-American favorites. At Lion & Rose, you could start with Limerick Fries, deep-fried green beans, then move on to bangers and mash, corned beef and cabbage, fish and chips, and even a vegetarian combination of bubble and squeak, Guinness mac and cheese,  and those wonderful Parmesan-broiled tomatoes.

The combinations are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day — or any day, for that matter — whether you dye the Harp green or not.

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Beer of the Week: Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde 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.

 

 

 

Real Ale Firemans #4 Blonde Ale

OK, let’s get the bad out of the way first: This beer has the worst grammar of any I’ve seen on the market lately. What exactly is a “Firemans”? The plural of “fireman” is “firemen” and the possessive of “fireman” is “fireman’s,” which leaves us with no place for a poor “Firemans” to go, except in my belly.

Now that my inner copy editor had his say, it’s time to concentrate on what Real Ale in Blanco gets right with this brew, which is just about everything else.

The beer boasts a shimmering golden color with a slightly cloudy tinge that is reminiscent of lemons. A healthy head foams up, but after a few minutes, it settles into a nice lacing around the upper edge.

Lemons come to mind again on first sniff, because that bright citrus dominates the aroma, though a touch of yeast and malt is also present.

Citrus with a lively layer of hoppy bitterness dominate the flavors, and these get more pronounced the warmer the beer gets. But either cold or room temperature, it is refreshing, cutting through anything heavy you may be eating or complementing a touch of spice. It all ends in a dry, clean finish that makes you thirsty for more.

This beer is versatile when it comes to pairing it with food. At the Lion and Rose, you could match it with a bowl of Belgian mussels in a white wine mirepoix or snack through a basket of Bloke’s Mushrooms with ranch dressing. Or you could match it with a more substantial plate, such as Langostino Tilapia with its buttery sauce or the vegetarian Beggar’s Pouches, pasta filled with four types of cheese.

So, put the fire out with a Firemans #4 and leave the grammar to someone else to fix.

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Beer of the Week: Dogfish 60 Minute IPA


 

 

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.

 

 

 

Dogfish 60 Minute IPA

Give me an IPA, or India Pale Ale, with an extra jolt of hoppy bitters, and I’m happy. Needless to say, I fell for Dogfish 60 Minute IPA from the first sip.

The brew’s website explains the name: “60 Minute IPA is continuously hopped — more than 60 hop additions over a 60-minute boil. (Getting a vibe of where the name came from?).  60 Minute is brewed with a slew of great Northwest hops. A powerful but balanced East Coast IPA with a lot of citrusy hop character, it’s the session beer for hardcore enthusiasts!”

Get this beer well chilled before opening. As you pour it into a mug, you’ll notice its bright golden color with an almost orange intensity. The foam rises about an inch high before settling into a wispy lace around the edge of the glass. As you pour, you also can’t escape the hoppy aromas bursting from the bottle. Both floral and slight piney scents mingle with notes of bread and citrus.

These carry over into the pleasantly bitter flavors of the beer, with an orange-lemon quality and a touch of sweetness floating in that bracing, often piney bitterness. This puppy has plenty of bite. It also leads to a bitter finish that will be welcome to any hop-head like myself.

I love drinking IPAs by themselves. They’re strong and refreshing. But they’re also surprisingly good with strong-flavored food. At the Lion and Rose, these could cut through the heat of the Hackney Hot Wings or offer a contrast to the sweetness of shrimp wrapped  in bacon in the Angels on Horseback plate. Have with any cut of steak or even the Central London Chicken Curry in a coconut-curry sauce with basmati rice.

Any way you pour it, Dogfish 60 Minute IPA is a fine catch.

 

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Beer of the Week: Party Favorites for the Big Game


 

 

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.

 

 

 

There’s always a soccer game on one of the TVs at the Lion & Rose, and the football game of football games — the Super Bowl, that is — is fast approaching. So, I felt it would be a great time to talk about beer and sports pairing this week, in case you wanted some tips for getting ready for the next game.

Get some good beers together for the big game.

Downing a pint or two during a game has been a tradition ever since the Sumarians and the Egyptians developed something to drink after a long day of building pyramids or towers to the heavens.

The Sumarians, who eventually became the Babylonians and later the Iraqis, once had about 20 varieties of beer on tap in their repertoire. But what did they down on the weekends?

We’ll never know. But we do know a few rules that are good to follow.

One: Put away the ultra-fancy stuff. You don’t want to waste your best beers on an occasion like this. Why? Because your attention is going to be on the game. No focusing on bitter hops finishes or caramel tones allowed. It’s all about what goes down smooth, clean and nice.

Two: Don’t skimp. If you like your friends, get something better than a few 12-packs of canned water that passed through an idle horse. If you don’t have the money to buy decent beer in quantity, then ask people to bring a six-pack for a shared tasting. You’ll never know what you’ll end up with.

Three. Think fun. Crowd-pleasers we’ve written about in the past include:

  • Newcastle Brown Ale — The perfect beer for hot wings. Any questions?
  • Redbridge Beer — This gluten-free beer is great to keep on hand in case any of your guests is living with celiac. But it tastes good, regardless, and would be great
  • Red Stripe — The most popular Super Bowl food seems to be guacamole, which would be great with this light lager. But then again, so would chili, fried onion rings with ranch dressing, or chips with onion dip.
  • Smithwick’s — This Irish beauty is great if you’re serving up grilled sausages, bratwurst or bangers of any sort.

We’d also recommend a specialty drink or two, such as black and tan, which you can learn how to make by watching the following video:

 

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Beer of the Week: Lindemans Pomme Lambic


 

 

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.

 

 

 

Lindemans Pomme Lambic

Pomme is French for apple. So, guess what the flavor of this beer is? Yes, it is a beer, not a hard cider.

This is a Belgium lambic from the same company that makes the spectacular Framboise, or raspberry beer, that we wrote about a few months ago.

It’s also a beer that many won’t recognize at first sip as a beer. That’s because of the dominant apple flavor. But give a second sip and you’ll notice a touch of floral, bitter hops in the mix. Yup, it’s beer all right.

But first, take note of the summery golden yellow color as you pour it into a glass. A hefty foam builds up quickly, but dissipates almost as quickly into a thin strand around the edge. But as you pour it, your nose is greeted by a hefty dose of fresh, tart apple, such as the Granny Smith on the label or a Fuji.

The robust apple flavor carries over to the taste, but there’s more. The hops flavor I mentioned is there, as is a lively citrus tang, a bracing sweetness and even a touch of pear mixing with the caramel-tinged malt. Imagine an adult candy apple in liquid form.

The fizz of this medium-bodied treat is crisp and clean on the palate, leading to a pleasantly dry finish.

Because it’s such a sweet treat, the Lindemans Pomme would be best with a dessert. At the Lion and Rose, the best choice would be the Yank’s Apple Pie with a welcome touch of cinnamon and a scoop of Blue Bell Vanilla. The Pear William Cake with vanilla chiffon cake and Bavarian pear mousse would also be good, while the Sticky Toffee Pudding with its toffee sauce would also cozy up to it nicely.

Or just grab an apple and taste how it compares with the lambic. Enjoy.

 

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Beer of the Week: Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout


 

 

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.

 

 

 

Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout

You may be singing a chorus of “In the Bleak Midwinter” when you open a bottle of this English stout.

The color is black as pitch, thick and impenetrable as it sinks into the glass. Hold it to the light and you may see some sparkle off it, a touch of red maybe, but that could be the glass as much as the beer itself. You’ll not likely see much looking through it.

A nice head builds up but it dissipates to a lacy foam at the edges after a minute or so.

The aroma that greets you is one of sweet toffees and malts, a little dark chocolate, a touch of coffee grinds, and yes, a little oatmeal.

The Samuel Smith website tells us this brew was made with water from “the original well at the Old Brewery, sunk in 1758, (which) is still in use, with the hard well water being drawn from 85 feet underground.” Later, it was “fermented in ‘stone Yorkshire squares’ to create an almost opaque, wonderfully silky and smooth textured ale.”

You’ll notice just how smooth when you take your first sip. Though there is carbonation, it isn’t overwhelming. Instead, it adds richness and a subtle life that thrills as it goes down.

The flavors are similar to the aromas, with brown sugar-flavored oatmeal mixing nicely with cocoa powder, coffee and toasted malt. The finish moves from the sweet to the slightly bitter on the finish.

This isn’t a beer to chug like you would a pilsner on a hot day. Instead, let it warm up a little before you open it. This beer should be drink at about 55 degrees, which isn’t icy cold. The warmer temperatures will also release more flavors for you to enjoy.

Its natural complexity is one that you could sit and drink by itself all evening, contemplating all those dense flavors. But this oatmeal stout also goes well with food. The Samuel Smith site suggests pairing it with lobster with drawn butter or steak and kidney pie. I would add a few great partners off the Pub’s menu: Dockland’s Shrimp and Chips, Mushroom Ravioli and Mum’s Meatloaf.

If you’re looking for a little warmth this winter, give Samuel Smith’s Oatmeal Stout a try.

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Beer of the Week: Redbridge 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.

 

 

 

Redbridge Beer

Redbridge comes from Anhauser-Busch. But unlike the brewer’s many other products, this one is made from sorghum, not wheat, which makes it gluten-free and perfect for those who are living with celiac disease. The company introduced the brew in 2006 and has taken several medals for best gluten-free beer. Granted, it’s not a huge category, but the number is growing.

Open a bottle and pour it into a pint glass and you’ll notice a pale amber color with plenty of foam that dissipates quickly into a ring around the edge. The aroma is floral and sweet with a slight caramel tone, but not terribly complicated, just straightforward fun. Best of all, it smells like beer.

The same can be said of the taste. The body is fairly light, but there’s a decent fizz on the tongue and some nice roasted grain flavor, leading to a hoppy finish. There’s a touch of sorghum flavor, if you know what that tastes like. If you don’t, just enjoy a certain sweetness that blends into the mix And it tastes like beer.

Nothing complicated like a Belgian trippel or a British porter, mind you. But it’s much better than no beer at all.

You can enjoy this beer all by itself or partnered with a great many foods. At the Lion and Rose, you could mate Redbridge brew with plenty of items from the pub’s gluten-sensitive menu. Corned beef and cabbage would be particularly fine, or, if you’re looking for a light snack, try the bacon-wrapped shrimp known as Angels on Horseback.

If you’re inviting guests over for the holidays and are stocking up on beer, grab a six-pack of Redbridge. You never know when someone is going to be gluten-intolerant, and having something on hand that he or she can drink is just one more way of making everyone welcome.

 

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Beer of the Week: St. Peter’s Cream Stout


 

 

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.

 

 

 

St. Peter’s Cream Stout

Why would anyone want to drink an iced mocha or Frappuccino, when you could have an adult beverage like St. Peter’s Cream Stout, which boasts more flavor than any of those super-sweet caffeine bombs? With this potent brew, you get flavors of chocolate and coffee swirling through each sip, but you get so much more.

First off, you get a great bottle. This is another of the distinctive St. Peter’s bottles (we wrote about St. Peter’s equally fine Old-Style Porter back in August), a 16.9-ounce antique-style green bottle that harkens back to the days when pharmacists worked in apothecaries, not drug stores.

There’s nothing medicinal about the aromas that burst forth when you remove the cap. Floral, toffee and licorice, partially stemming from what the label tells us are Fuggles and Challenger hops, mix with an obvious, strong roasted coffee quality as well as roasted malts.

Pour it into the pint glass and, well, it sort of looks like used WD40. It’s blacker than the most eye-opening jolt of espresso you’ve ever had, and it produces a lovely full head that dissipates to a state of lace around the edges of the glass fairly quickly.

The sense of sweetness carries over from the nose, but it’s held firmly in check by the bitter coffee flavors that somehow don’t coalesce the way sugar melts into coffee. Also, the cream is there, and it works well with the other flavors, but you would never mistake this for the cream in your coffee. And that’s all for the better, especially when you add the gentle carbonation that offers a pleasant tongue tingle.

Chocolate is also there, along with some fruit and caramel flavors, and all those dark, mysterious qualities that mark a fine stout. The sweetness disappears entirely at the back of your palate, leading to a creamy yet dry finish.

Is it any wonder this brew took gold medals from the International Beer Competition/Challenge in 2003, 2004 and 2006, as the label says?

Serve St. Peter’s Cream Stout at cellar temperature, a little warmer than refrigerator level but not Texas room temperature. That makes it ideal in cooler weather.

I like the fact that this comes in a bottle just slightly larger than a pint glass. That means you have a little left over, kind of like when you order a milkshake and your server brings you the metal container with whatever wouldn’t fit into your serving glass.

Ideally, you would pair this beer with something as robust and vigorous as this is. At the Lion and Rose, that could be an appetizer order of Bloke’s Mushrooms with cream gravy on the side. It could be any of the steaks, such as the King Richard’s Rib-eye or a Pub Burger with sautéed mushrooms and blue cheese added for good measure. Top it off with a Four High Chocolate Cake for dessert.

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Beer of the Week: Chimay Grand Rèserve


 

 

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.

 

 

 

Chimay Grand Rèserve

For the last two weeks, we have enjoyed the Red and the White. Naturally, the Blue comes next. Chimay Grand Rèserve, or the Blue Cap, is the richest of the series and a beer that stands up beautifully to aging.

This Belgian treasure was first introduced at Christmas time, and what a gift it has proven to be. In the 750-milliliter bottles, it appears with a vintage date on the label, and you could store this the way you would a fine wine, in a cool, dark place.

But if you can’t wait, enjoy it now.

The magic doesn’t appear right off.

A new bottle, when opened, will release a welcome but not exactly overwhelming bouquet of fruit, spices, yeast and toffee.

Pour it into the glass and out comes something dark and cloudy, but not in an attractive way that other dark brews, such as Guinness or a chocolate stout, can appear. The rust-colored head is generous and lasts a good long time.

But the real magic doesn’t reveal itself until you get that first sip in your mouth. Suddenly, the yeast becomes like just-baked brioche. The fruitiness becomes identifiable as plums, figs and pears with a note of apple. The caramel candy notes are sweet and delightful. The spices, especially a hint of black pepper, adds a pleasant burn on the side. But it’s not the individual flavors that make you sit up and take notice. It’s the complexity of what’s happening in the glass and in your mouth. True, the mouth feel is more medium bodied than the appearance might have led you to believe, but the flavors make this a truly rewarding experience.

If you decide to age a few bottles, you’ll notice that it behaves like an older wine does. The yeastiness mellows, as it does on a fine Champagne. The fruit flavors mingle with the spices into something more transcendent. A creamy lushness takes over, leaving you just happy to have some of this elixir in your glass.

Pairing Chimay Grand Rèserve with food is the easiest thing in the world. It will go with just about anything you want to eat. It would do better with something with a bold spice level, though not necessarily hot. If you’re drinking this potent potable at the Lion and Rose, order it with the Yorktown Strip steak and liberally grind black pepper over the meat. Or slather the spicy mustard on a plate of bangers and mash. Sherwood Fries (sweet potato sticks) and a spicy ranch dip or the bacon-loaded Pub Club with Black Forest ham would also work. But, again, anything from Dockland’s Shrimp and Chips to Jester’s Grilled Cheese, would do well.

So, enjoy Chimay Grand Rèserve through the holidays and beyond. This is a treasure to savor all year round.

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Beer of the Week: Chimay Premiere


 

 

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.

 

 

 

Chimay Première

Chimay Première

This Belgian dubbel ale is also known as Chimay Red Cap because of its cap (as well as label). It  the oldest of the brewery’s creations and “was the first beer brewed at the Notre-Dame de Scourmont Abbey by the Trappist fathers in 1862,” the company’s website says. “Its current recipe was crafted by Father Théodore when he recreated the brewery after World War II. He was directly inspired by the original recipes from the beginnings of the brewery.”

That august tradition can be tasted in most every sip of this excellent beer.

Open the bottle and pour it slowly into a wide-mouthed glass. The beer appears quite rustic with flashes of red infusing the brown almost the way fall leaves do in a forest. A large head forms, perhaps a little more beige than white, but it dissipates relatively quickly.

The aroma is bit sweet with only a slight touch of floral hops on the nose. Instead, you might sense anything from apricot to banana on the fruity side while the malt is almost caramelized. These will grow and change depending on the age of the bottle, with older versions losing the fruit in  favor of greater malt and something more intangibly sweet-sour as well as nutty.

The rich, dense flavors are what clinches the deal, though, and here Chimay wins across the board. Want something with a lively fruit note? How about something reminiscent of sweet fresh figs with the tiniest citrus quality? Prefer something with spice? Think of cloves filtered through yeast. The balance of bitter comes in on the finish, which is dry with a slight peppery burn. In short, it cover a gamut of flavors as it goes down, sip by sip. (With an alcohol content of 7 percent, this is not a guzzler.)

You can age this beer, especially in the larger 750-milliliter bottle, for several years, if you can keep it cool and out of the light.

What is a dubbel ale, you may ask? It depends on who is answering the question. Some say it refers to the strength of the beer (lighter than a tripel); others say it refers to the fact that the beer was fermented twice. So, the answer is what you want to make of it. Just remember the name, because it signifies a brew of great complexity and worth the price.

Pairing this bold treat with food can be fun. Think of equally bold flavors, whether it’s something with garlic or a stinky cheese, or of cutting through a rich sauce.  From the Lion and Rose’s menu, think of the Chimay Première with the Belgian mussels, which are served with a white wine sauce and garlic bread, or the wedge salad with plenty of blue cheese dressing. A steak or mushroom ravioli with a cream sauce  and, again, garlic bread would be a perfect partner for this beauty.

 

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