See ya Later, Chicken Wings…

I’ve wanted to start documenting some of the food pairings with our beers, and to share a few that I recently fell in love with. By the way, when I talk about “food” I mean cuisine, not something that comes in a cardboard box via a delivery guy, and certainly nothing that you can purchase at a Hooter’s (those still exist right?). ¬†Generally I like to keep pretension to a minimum, if not entirely absent, but it’s about damn time people started pairing actual food with great beer. Chicken wings, are a snack.

“Seven” from Upright is a gorgeous ‘strong saison’, at 8.5% ABV. It’s big, bold, and juicy with a lot of complexity and a refreshingly tart finish. This makes for a terrific pairing for stronger dishes that have some richness to them. At the “Upright Crawl” Dinner Series during VCBW we paired it up with the Irish Heather Chef Lee Humphries’ slow braised Pork Belly. It was a killer combination, the beer matching the complexity and depth of the dish (onion puree, herbs, crispy potatoes and gremolata) but cleanly rinsing the fatty richness of your palate for the next bite.

Last week I made a sort of porchetta, butterflying a pork shoulder (technically Frank from Jackson’s Meat and Deli butterflied it), and stuffing it generously with mushrooms, minced pork, herbs and such before tying it up and slow cooking it on the BBQ. This went really, really well with Seven. ¬†I also tried it with Cantillon Guezue, and Jack D’Or but Seven was the clear winner for this dish. The others were actually a bit over-powering, despite being ‘lighter’ in alcohol.

The “Four”, also from Upright was paired as the first course of our crawl (though I’m listing it second because the pork has been on my mind since I ate it) alongside a Pea and Prawn Salad. The subtle tartness of this beer leaves a very appetizing and refreshing impression, perfect for a starter salad or seafood appy.

“Four” is also perfect with virtually any cheese, though some stronger blue-veined cheeses might overpower it. That said, it’s carbonation, tactful hopping and vibrant acidity cut through fat and funk quite pleasingly, so there’s little need to over-think this one.

Photo Courtesy of Rick Green

There is a beer out there for every food. EVERY food. If you really start experimenting you will be amazed at the infinite number of possible combinations and how vastly different beers can work with the same dishes in exciting, enticing and sometimes scary delicious ways. For example, try a tart raspberry lambic – what a coincidence, we carry Rose De Gambrinus – or a Russian Imperial Stout like North Coast’s Old Rasputin (not ours) with chocolate desserts.

Our beer is always food friendly, but so are most. So whether it’s a beer from RainCity Brands or not, chances are it’s got a soul mate in solid-food form. Just remember that eating and drinking is supposed to be fun, and that you should learn from your less successful attempts. Secondly, feel free to gloat when you nail a good one – I’d love to hear what your favourite pairings are!!