Tag Archive | "food and beer pairings"

Beer of the Week: Fat Tire Amber Ale

The first beer of vacation is always the most enjoyable. The promise of adventures to come is loaded into each sip as its bubbles happily pop on their way down your throat, urging you on to new frontiers.

And happy is just how I feel as I sit in the Alamo City Microbrewery & Grill at the San Antonio International Airport with a pint in front of me.

The copper color gleams in the dim room and I have to hold it up to my laptop screen to get a good look at its deep, rich beauty.

There isn’t much of a head, and only the tiniest ring of lacey foam around the top edge. It was probably the way the beer was siphoned from the tap, slow and steady against the glass to avoid as much head as possible. At $6.75 a pint (airport prices, remember), the customers are  sure to want every last drop that will fit in the glass.

A sniff doesn’t reveal much  beyond a touch of hops, malt and the tiniest bit of fruit. But a sip, followed by a big gulp, reminds me of why this beer from the New Belgium Brewery in Fort Collins, Colo., is such a pleasure, especially when nothing else is pressing for the rest of the day. The hops and malt, with a pleasant touch of caramel, become much more robust, with the bitterness from the hops disappearing mid-palate into a refreshing, almost water-like flavor, as if it were tapping into some Colorado mountain spring. (It’s not watery, mind you; but it is clean and, to someone as tired as I am, revivifying.)

The finish is odd, yet in a good way. A pleasant hoppy bitterness mixed with a coolly metalic element isn’t readily apparent, yet it makes itself known after a bit and lingers long after the first pint is finished.

You could pair this beer with plenty of foods, from Buffalo wings and chips with salsa, even a habanero salsa, to a mixed grill platter. The New Belgium website offers a recipe for ColoRouge Beer Cheese Soup that would be great any time of year.

Well, one escape has led to another. It’s almost time to board …

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Beer of the Week: Boddington’s Pub 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.




Boddington’s Pub Ale

If you ever wanted to get a beer mustache to rival those in the “got milk?” ads, then pour yourself a Boddington’s and dive right in. I don’t know what the carbonation causes all the foam that rises from this beauty when you pour it, either from the tap or the can (with its nitrogen ball inside), but expect a generous head, white, frothy and creamy on top.

The beer itself, a British brew that has been around for more than 200 years, displays a polished light golden glow. It is perfectly clear, luminous and enticing.

Subtle aromas of yeast and malt with a mild sweetness and a faint sense of hops emerge. The flavors enlarge the aromas. Suddenly, in your mouth, the yeast has become all bread-like, the malt more intense, the hops more pleasantly bitter and citrusy.

But it’s the mouthfeel that really grabs you. It’s full bodied and creamy, coating your tongue in a richness you didn’t quite expect. This is the real lure of Boddington’s, and it will stay with you, calling you back for another and another.

The finish is hoppy and bitter and altogether welcome.

A good acid level that manages to assert itself in all that unctuousness makes this a perfect beer to pair with something spicy. At the Lion and Rose, that would be the spicy Hackney Hot Wings, hands down, though Scotch eggs would also be a good match. Grilled Jerk Chicken would work well, too, for the contrast, while a side order of Bubble and Squeak or Guinness Mac and Cheese would offer succulent proof that rich food and rich drink can make for a great meal.

Just make sure you remember to wipe the foam off your upper lip every once in a while.

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Beer of the Week: Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider Original



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.




Crispin Natural Hard Apple Cider Original

I recently returned from upstate New York where apples were overflowing this season. Markets were filled with all styles and colors, great and small, firm and soft, just waiting to be bit into, cut up for apple pie or churned into apple-cinnamon ice cream.

A few of those who juice their apples still turn the liquid into hard apple cider, which is fermented. But most of us nowadays rely on folks like the good people at Crispin Hard Ciders to do that work for us.

Crispin is, as the name implies, a natural product made with filtered water and natural apple essence in addition to the cider. No malt or spirits were added.

The nose is filled with ripe, fresh apple and slight pear scents and a touch of yeast, all of which you can pick up on the palate. The color is a straw or pale yellow, that pours with just a touch of bubbles that quickly dissipate. (This isn’t beer, really, so don’t expect plenty of head.) One sip and you’ll see just how clean and refreshing this is to drink. The taste is dry but fruity with a zippy feel on the tongue that just makes you want more. The alcohol level is 5 percent.

This is a gluten-free treat for those who want something with a little kick but without wheat or other dietary no-no’s of that variety. It’s also low in carbohydrates with only 12 grams per 12-ounce bottle.

Crispin goes great with every kind of food. At the Lion & Rose, you could pair it well with Bloke’s Mushrooms, its clean taste balancing the fried button caps beautifully. Or try it with the Jester’s Grilled Cheese with some applewood smoked bacon. For dessert lovers, this would be a great match with the Pear William Cake. It would also be good with any of the items on the gluten-sensitive menu.

Most of the ciders in the Crispin line, such as Honey Crisp and Brut, are great as a mixer, with ginger ale, whiskey, you name it. At the Lion and Rose, you can have the Original layered with Guinness in a version of Black Velvet. More cocktail ideas can be found on the company’s website, which featured this potent example:

The Empire Builder

2 ounces Crispin Original
1/2 ounce vodka
1/2 ounce Starbucks Coffee Liquor (see note)
Dash of simple syrup

Mix Crispin, vodka, Starbucks and simple syrup in an ice filled shaker. Shake and pour into a chilled martini glass.

Note: Starbucks works here because its a liquor that’s about the coffee first. Something like Kahlúa is too sticky-sweet and ruins the effect. It’s completely unintuitive, but the Starbucks actually enhances and highlights the subtle apple essence of Crispin Original. Crispin Original has such a subtle flavor (closer to champagne than the typical brewed hard cider); its all too easy to obliterate it – trust me, this works.

Adapted from




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Beer of the Week: Lindemans Framboise 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 Framboise Lambic

This week, we present a beer that’s probably different from any other brew you’ve ever had in your life. This Belgian confection is a light-bodied brew with a bright red color that it derives from the additions of raspberries. Think of a sparkling red wine but with greater heft, thanks to the barley and unmalted wheat that truly make it a beer.

So many friends who have sworn they’d never like a fruit beer are astounded by the flavor of this treat, while more than a few beer drinkers are equally perplexed by its unique nature. Some won’t come around to accepting it as a beer when compared with a more bitter or heavier brew, but that’s really their loss. A few would even like to divide the camps between the sexes, dubbing this a girly beer that men won’t care for. But anyone who loves raspberries (one of my two or three most favorite foods in the world) will enjoy this, regardless of gender.

That’s because it is so much more than raspberry soda. The robust nose has aromas of red fruit, of course, laced with notes of yeast, wood, a sugar vinegar and tobacco.

Pour it into a tall, thin stein and notice how huge a head of foam rises. And it lasts, sparkling pink over the darker red brew below.

The flavor conveys raspberries in all their glory, with the seeds seeming to have provided a touch of tannin. There’s also a slightly sour note to balance the sweetness, the same element that made me think of vinegar on the nose. Though it is sweet on the tongue, it has a surprisingly dry finish.

If, after a bottle or two, you still think want to think of this as soda, at least think of it as an adult, raspberry version of Dr Pepper.

Obviously, the style of beer is different. It’s called lambic, which Wikipedia defines as being “brewed only in the Pajottenland region of Belgium (southwest of Brussels) and in Brussels itself. … Unlike conventional ales and lagers, which are fermented by carefully cultivated strains of brewer’s yeasts, lambic beer is produced by spontaneous fermentation: It is exposed to the wild yeasts and bacteria that are said to be native to the Senne valley, in which Brussels lies. It is this unusual process which gives the beer its distinctive flavour: dry, vinous and cidery, usually with a sour aftertaste.”

Not all lambics use fruit, but Lindemans has been making a whole line of fruit-laden specialty brews, including some made with cherries, peaches and apricots, since 1811. They’re good, but this is the best of the lot and the perfect one to start with if you’ve never tried this style of beer.

You may have heard someone say that Cabernet Sauvignon should be paired with chocolate cake for dessert. Not so. That pairing couldn’t hold a candle to Lindemans Framboise alongisde Lion & Rose’s Four High Chocolate Cake, the Big Ben Brownie Sundae or the Sticky Toffee Pudding.

And, yes, this is a beer.

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