Archive | Beer and Food

Bar Central med sikte på klassisk öl

Bar Central med sikte på klassisk öl

 

Magnus Allersand på Bar Central.

Magnus Allersand på Bar Central.

Hur kan det komma sig att en restaurang som lagar mat med inspiration från hela Centraleuropa bara har 7 olika öl på öllistan? Och att de samtidigt har 70 viner gjorda på riesling på vinlistan? Har de inte missat något? Öl är ju Centraleuropas dryck nummer 1! Misströsta inte, det finns en tanke bakom.

Vi tar det från början. När Bar Central öppnade sommaren 2011 var det många som var förvånade. En krog med spätzle, schweinshaxe och gulasch mitt på det trendiga Södermalm i Stockholm? Snett emot det New York-inspirerade Urban Deli dessutom. Med kanske Sveriges tuffaste krogklimat rakt utanför porten, på Skånegatan med alla dess konkurrenter. Hur skulle det här sluta?

Början blev bra. Det visade sig att tajmingen var perfekt. Hantverksmässigt gjord korv och långsamt lagad mat med ursprung i Tyskland, Ungern, Kroatien och Tjeckien var uppenbarligen vad många ville ha och Bar Central fick sin publik direkt. Krögarna visste vad de gjorde.

- Det fanns tidigare en liten krog som hette Lilla Budapest som hade bra centraleuropeisk mat. Vi ville göra en uppdaterad variant av det köket och när vi öppnade så var det en uppåtgående trend med korv och surkål. Alla ville äta korv och alla ville äta surkål och så kom vi och serverade just det. Och ska man servera sådan mat så ska man dricka klassisk öl. Från Tyskland och Tjeckien, berättar Magnus Allersand.

Bar Centrals flyttbara meny.

Bar Centrals flyttbara meny.

Magnus Allersand är en av delägarna till Bar Central och också den som ansvarar för öllistan och han anser att de har allt vad de behöver i ölväg. Eller i varje fall nästan.

- Jag är torsk på Tyskland och Tjeckien när det gäller öl. Det är där jag haft mina starkaste ölupplevelser, det är där jag druckit den bästa ölen. På Uerige i Düsseldorf, på bryggpubar i München, i Prag – det är starka upplevelser, berättar han.

Så första ölen han valde var…. Pilsner Urquell!

- Det är en av världens bästa öl – en bra, klassisk, fruktig pils. Klockren till vår meny och klockren även som ensamöl.

Sedan ville han ha tysk öl – klassisk öl som passar bra till maten på Bar Central.

- Jag visste att jag ville ha en öl från München och gärna då  Hofbräu – det är min Münchenfavorit. Sedan sökte jag en torr pilsner också, det blev Bitburger, och så har vi Urquells Master Semi Dark – den passar bra till den här lite fetare maten. Dessutom en veteöl – Weihenstephaner – både i den vanliga varianten och kristall-varianten och som alkoholfri.

Magnus berättar att han tänkt mycket på krogens fokus, lika fokuserade som de är på maten är de på dryckerna och de måste spela bra ihop. Även om ölutbudet är ganska litet och väldigt klassiskt så menar han att de kan fånga upp de flesta kombinationer i ölllistan och att alla ölen funkar bra med deras meny fast på lite olika sätt.

Är gästerna nöjda med ert utbud eller saknar de något?

- Jag tycker att vi har fått med det bästa av det bästa med en viss bredd i smakerna med öl som passar vår mat. Men det är klart, många frågar efter en IPA, men iporna är inte så vanliga i Centraleuropa. Vill man ha sådan öl får man gå till andra krogar som kör på det spåret, här kör vi klassiskt med sikte på den mat som finns i centrala Europa.

Magnus berättar också att de siktar på att ha några gästkranar med andra öl framöver, kanske redan efter nyår.

- Det vore kul med en ungersk öl, det är faktiskt många som frågar efter det. Men faktum är att de är svåra att få tag på – i varje fall på fat. Likaså med polska öl och öl från Balkan – de är inte så lätta att få tag på här i Sverige.

- Vi försöker jobba med lite komplement till vårt standardsortiment, nu har vi till exempel en mörk öl från Bernard på fat. Den är bra, inte för söt och med kaffetoner och mörk choklad, en bra öl! Den funkar bra med många av våra maträtter.

Bar Centrals dryckeslista.

Bar Centrals dryckeslista.

Hur kombinerar ni maten med era öl, har ni en öl som ni anser passar bäst till varje rätt?

- Nej, vi försöker kolla av vad gästen är ute efter. Någon kanske vill ha en tydligare beskeprofil, andra söker sötman i ölet. Vi som serverar frågar efter vad man gillar och föreslår så att det blir bra. Och det verkar funka, det är många gäster som sitter här ganska länge.

Är det något du saknar idag på Bar Central?

- Vi är än så länge mest en matkrog och kanske kan jag sakna de där gästerna som kommer in med en tidning, dricker några öl samtidigt som de läser tidningen och sedan lyfter på hatten och tackar för sig. De är inte så många än så länge men de börjar hitta hit till oss också. Vi vill ha alla typer av gäster! 

 

Läs mer: Följ med till Pilsner Urquell – bryggeriet där allt började

Läs mer:  Vad gör jästen i öl – egentligen?

 

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Posted in Beer and Food2 Comments

Pizza gets biggest slice of football goalmouth action*

Pizza gets biggest slice of football goalmouth action*

There are some things that intrinsically belong together. Midsommar and mosquitoes, Lili and Susie, Friday night and fat-saturated crisps.

And beer, pizza and football of course.

No matter how many inroads beer makes into the world of fine-dining these days there’s no escaping the fact that beer found its soul-mate in the classic Italian dish a long time ago.

For many people beer is best drunk with a cheesy slice of pizza in one hand, a cold bärs in the other while lounging in front of the telly watching Zlatan do unreasonable things with a football.

This isn’t just conjecture, it’s a documented fact with the release of a new survey from Carlsberg which reveals 6 out of 10 Swedes prefer eating pizza when watching the footie.

According to Fotbollskanalen.se which helped conduct the poll together with Carlsberg an overwhelming 59% of the 620 Swedes who took part choose pizza as their ideal big game snack – five times as many votes as tacos and hamburgers.

Swedish sausages with mashed potatoes or chips came last with just 4% of the votes, confirming what I’ve always thought about sausages from Sweden, which in my world sit just above surströmming on my list of “Swedish Things I Find Hard to Swallow’**.

To celebrate pizza’s goal-mouth superiority Carlsberg has invited the Swedish Pizza Champion 2012 Camilla Seidl from Vapiano to create a European Football Championship pizza. You can download the recipe by following this link.

If there is one dish I think Carlsberg really does play well with it is a straight-forward calzone-style pizza. The beer’s light malty tones are a match for the pizza’s base and the beer’s rather forward carbonation tackles all that gooey cheese.

But in my opinion when your pizza gets a bit more complicated it’s time to substitute Carlsberg for other beers. Pizza’s tomato sauce can be lightly acidic and so a beer with a splash of acidity like Oud Beersel or Saison DuPont can help cancel the tomato tang out nicely. Great with vegetarian pizzas too!

If you’re a fan of oxfilé and béarnaise then your beer needs to be pretty versatile to take on the meat and all that fatty sauce. Here a big malty Belgium dubbel can work but I’m more a fan of beers with herby hops which team up nicely with the pizza’s spices and slide through all that sauce. Try an American Strong Ale or a US-inspired IPA like this or this.

Have you got any pizza and beer pairings that perform better than Christian Ronaldo from a dead-ball situation?  Then why not share them with the rest of us right here?

But a word of warning to end on. Whatever you eat while watching the Euros it’s going to be pretty hard to match it with a beer when Sweden faces England on June 15th. Because for one of us at least that match is probably going to leave a very bitter taste in our mouths.

* Seriously Aftonbladet. Can you do better?

** In a previous blogging life I used to chronicle my experiences about living in Sweden in Lagom Life. It’s now sitting there, abandoned, gathering dust out in cyberspace.

 

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Posted in Beer and Food, Mish Mash3 Comments

Chocolate Shock! It’s Kladdkakens Dag!

Chocolate Shock! It’s Kladdkakens Dag!

Today isn’t just any old Monday but is, in fact, the day people living in Sweden pay homage to that most chocolatey and calorific of desserts known as Kladdkaka!

Just why a pudding is given it’s very own day in the Gregorian calendar confuses me, but then if penguins* get their own day every year I supposes anything goes.

Kladdkaka is a chocolate heart-attack-in-waiting; a pudding often so loaded with cocoa that just looking at one means you might have to make another hole in your belt.

Personally I’m rather partial to Kladdkaka made with white chocolate as it brings out those sweet vanilla flavours I love so much. Here’s a recipe I’ve previously tested for how to make one:

You will need:

100 g butter
200 g white chocolate
3 eggs
2 msk light syrup
0.5 dl sugar
1.5 dl flour
2 tsk vanilla sugar
1 krm salt
0.5 dl breadcrumbs (to coat the cake dish with)

What you do:

1. Heat the oven to 175 Degrees. Mix the flour, sugar, salt and vanilla sugar in a bowl.

2. Butter a cake tin (preferably one of the non-stick spring form ones around 24cm in diameter) and coat it with the breadcrumbs.

3. Melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl placed above boiling water and gently stir in the butter (also melted) the eggs and syrup. Do not whisk!

4. Quickly pour the butter-chocolate mix into the dry ingredients and stir gently.

5. Pour the mix into the cake tin and bake for 14-17 minutes.

6. Keep checking the cake. It’s done when it’s just set. Take the cake out of the oven and put it directly into the freezer for 20 minutes. (This will make it easier to cut and perfectly sticky).

7. Serve with lightly whipped cream and some fresh raspberries.

Of course a perfectly sticky Kladdkaka is the perfect excuse to crack open a beer that’s also overloaded with chocolatey flavours and aromas. Remember those bottles of Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout I told you to hide away at the start of this year?  Well now it’s time to bring one of them out of the cupboard as it has it cocoa clout to take on this most decadent of desserts.

If you didn’t buy one back in January (shame on you!) then you can always try Fuller’s Past Masters Double Stout, Thisted Limfjordsporter, BrewDog Rip Tide or Slottskällans Imperial Stout, to name but a few!

So happy Kladdkakens Dag everyone! If you find a perfect sticky chocolate cake and beer combo today then please tell us all about it in the comments below!

 

* And no, I didn’t mean those kind of Penguins!

 

 

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Posted in Beer and Food3 Comments

A-sigh-i feeling at opening of new Asian restaurant.

A-sigh-i feeling at opening of new Asian restaurant.

Sitting in the trendy Stureplan restaurant surrounded by smartly dressed Stockholmers who looked like they did this sort of thing every day I was getting increasingly irritated.

And it wasn’t because I was trying to shake off the excess from the previous night’s lively BeerSweden Forum meet-up (although I confess it wasn’t helping my mood) or because I was clearly underdressed in my jeans and Tactical Nuclear Penguin T-shirt.

Rather it was because I couldn’t seem to find out what beers were going to be served with the exclusive three course press lunch I was about to experience at the opening of Melker Andersson och Daniel Couet’s new Asian inspired restaurant Miss Voon.

Miss Voon has been given a laid back Oriental look by leading interior designer Thomas Sandell.

I had already passed on the glasses of Pares Balta Cava Brut being handed out as we arrived and was scrolling down the impressive menu hunting for some hops.

I could see that for starters we were being tempted with a tartare of Salmalax from Bergen with wazabi and yuzu, to which it was suggested we drank a 2010 Sankt Anna Riesling.

Next up were mushroom dumplings in a misobuljongen with small cubes of Asian pear, followed swiftly by a venison chop with a celery puree and tamarind, to which Solaz Tempranillo /Cabernet Sauvignon from Bodegas Osborne in La Mancha, Spain was offered.

The meal was to be rounded off nicely with a rose hip sorbet accompanied by a delicately spiced sponge smothered in a white chocolate sauce.

It looked thoroughly thought through and outstanding except for one thing. Where was the beer? And then I saw it, right at the bottom of the menu in 7pt print:

”Det finns även öl. Ashai (sic) Superdry samt alkoholfi Carlsberg”*

My sigh was so long and so loud it momentarily stopped the chatter on the tables around me.

I suppose by now I shouldn’t have been surprised but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed and a little let down as I beckoned the friendly waiter over and asked for a bottle of Asahi.

It’s not that Asahi Super Dry is a bad beer (its crisp and neutral flavours and aromas can actually make it a very undemanding pairing partner) and its Asian connection is obvious (although I had to stop myself from pointing out that this particular bottle was brewed in the Czech Republic).

It’s just that I instantly knew that although it may stand an outside chance with the starter it was going to be an epic fail with everything else on the menu.

Only having one style of beer to choose from at a restaurant is like being asked to play a round of golf using only a putter. There will be a few times when it’s the right choice, but far more often it will be a complete mishit.

So I spent my lunchtime eating delicious food (the Salamlax being my personal highlight) furiously scribbling down beer pairings that I thought would match the food to a tee.

OK so it's a little rough but what about this for some beer suggestions Mr Andersson?

For starters the Asahi stood up fairly well to the sweet heat of the wasabi and soy flavours that coated the diced salmon chunks but it would have excelled if served with a glass of chilled American Dream or Leon from Omnipollo, whose gentle mix of light and dark malts and use of champagne yeast would have boosted the starter’s zingy fresh flavours to new heights.

Pairing Asahi with mushroom dumplings was never going to be a fair fight. The dish’s earthy, herby and autumnal tastes would have been much better complemented with a bottle of Sigtuna Höstporter, Dugges Höstbrygd or a BrewDog 5AM Saint.

Similarly the venison just ran over the Asahi whereas a bottle of Traquair House Ale, a Brother Thelonious or a Chimay Blue would have met it head-on. 

Finally my mouth was watering at the idea of the pleasantly spicy rose-hip sorbet melting into a mouthful of sweet US-style barley wine such as Sierra Nevada’s BigfootAvery’s Hog Heaven or even a cool glass of Westmalle Tripel.

As it was once again I left a fantastic restaurant scratching my head and wondering what could have been. Miss Voon may not be a strict Asian concept but their bold use of oriental flavours mixed with some of the very best European ingredients is adventurous.

Pity the same can’t be said for the beer selection.

 *We even have beer. Ashai Super Dry and Alcohol-free Carlsberg.

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Posted in Beer and Food3 Comments

Don’t Laugh. Beer Can Pair Better with Food than Wine.

Don’t Laugh. Beer Can Pair Better with Food than Wine.

Whenever I tell people that beer is often a far better partner to food than wine they normally smile politely and then (and I swear this is true) wait until I’ve left the room before bursting out laughing.

The notion that beer really can add another taste dimension to fine food is for many hard to swallow. Sure, beer is fun and refreshing, but its proper place is down the pub or in front of the TV while watching the footie, right?

For the majority of us, even seasoned beer drinkers, the general rule seems to be that if you’re going to eat well you need to drink well and that really only means one thing – wine.

If you recognise yourself in any of the above three paragraphs then this post is for especially for you. It’s what I ate for dinner at home on Saturday night and just as importantly what I drank with it.

Starter:

Kalix Löjrom on tunnbröd with finely chopped red onion and crème fraîche and black pepper. Served with Nils Oscar Jubileum 15, a saison-style ale whose bready malt character melted into the tunnbröd while the caramel and orange fruit flavours softened the saltiness of the löjrom and the spicy lemongrass and dry bitter finish sliced through the crème fraîche. A near perfect match. 4.6 out of 5!

Main Course:

Lamb rack roasted with garlic, red onion, fresh thyme and black pepper. Served with Jerusalem artichoke cream and almond potatoes (dug up from the garden only a few hours before) roasted with sea-salt and thyme and served with chanterelle mushrooms fried in butter with a hint of garlic. Accompanied by a meat sauce made from a generous splash of Nøgne Ø Imperial Brown Ale.

This dish was paired with Nøgne Ø Imperial Brown Ale, whose rich, almost vinous character complemented the sweet lamb meat beautifully. Bold flavours of brown sugar, nuts and raisins with a slightly burnt finish. The sauce made it difficult to tell where the space existed between beer and food. Another sublime match. 4.5 out of 5!

Dessert:

Åkerbärspärfait with crushed Werthers Original sweet topping, served with Oppigårds Amarillo. A strong match, with the near legendary tropical fruitiness of this pale ale wrapping itself around the explosively rich berry flavours of the åkerbär. The crushed caramel topping did however accentuate the beer’s firm hoppy finish. Great, but perhaps a barley wine or sweet strong ale next time? 4 out of 5.

Now you weren’t there and so weren’t able to experience the magnificence of these beers for yourself as they clicked with the food but I hope what you’ve just seen and read will open up the minds of even the most die-hard wine fans out there to the possibility that beer can be an awesome partner to food.

LATER THIS WEEK: I go from home-cooked to high class with my report from last week’s launch party of Melker Andersson och Daniel Couet‘s new Asian inspired restaurant Miss Voon in Stockholm. Find out how I get on while the rest of the room sips cocktails and wine and I discover there’s only one beer on the menu……

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Beer and Food4 Comments

The Crayfish and Beer Taste Test

The Crayfish and Beer Taste Test

With the summer lurching towards its inevitable end and the nights drawing in it’s high time to enjoy one of the culinary highlights of the year here in Sweden – crayfish.

Crayfish are traditionally consumed together with standard industrial lagers whose bland and forgettable taste is more often than not washed away in a wave of spicy snaps,

But this year, inspired by a ‘crayfish and beer’ thread over at BeerSweden Forum, we got a little ‘cray-ative’ (Ed note: Just this once Darren. Don’t let it happen again) and used two very different kinds of beer to marinade the crayfish in.

Whitstable Bay is a bitter beer that is very close to my heart. For four years it was very close to me in a lot of other ways too as I lived in the fishing town of Whitstable and was among the team that launched the beer at the nearby Shepherd Neame brewery.

Whitstable Bay is a copper coloured ale that I have always liked for its snappy young malt and lemongrass hop character. There’s also a mineral edge to the beer that I think makes it a good all-round pairing partner to shellfish.

La Trappe Witte is an entirely different type of beer – the only Trappist witbier available and brewed with a proportion of unmalted wheat before being spiced with Curacao orange peel and coriander.

It has an evocatively summery feel to it with lemon zest and a vein of green herbs that I was hoping would dovetail into the dill crowns used in the crayfish stock.

We prepared two separate ‘base’ stocks using water, salt, a sugar cube and freshly picked dill crowns to which we added 33cl of both beers and left the crayfish to soak in for the best part of the day.  We even bought two different types of frozen crayfish, the larger, more fire-engine red variety from Spain and the smaller and double-as-expensive kind from right here in Sweden.

To serve with the crayfish we baked some wholemeal baguettes and a succulently moist Västerbottensost quiche.

So which beer paired the best? In my opinion the Whistable Bay edged it, with a delicious aroma of freshly baked bread released in the hot stock stock and the malt’s understated caramel tones adding a delicate sweetness to the crayfish meat. On this occasion the beer’s ‘clean’ flavours worked to its advantage.

La Trappe Witte was very different, with its more spicy body amplified by the stock, making the crayfish noticeable saltier and more herbal that the Whitstable Bay. It was still a great match but it bordered on being overpowering.

As for which crayfish tasted better, the bigger, redder Spaniards or the smaller, more fiddly Swedes it was a clear win for the home team. They may cost almost twice as much but in my opinion they’re worth it in terms of taste and texture.

After almost an hour of cracking, sucking and slurping we rounded the meal off with a wild rapserberry (fresh from the garden) almond crumble with whipped cream and melted vanilla ice-cream.

Full and content I flopped into the armchair and mentally chalked up another great food and beer match. Then my mind wandered to the next traditional Swedish culinary event – feremented herrings – and I apparently nodded off to sleep with a bemused and slightly concerned look on my face.

 


Footnote: Because we had young guests staying with us we passed on the snaps for this meal. In all honesty I didn’t really miss it and felt I got much more out of the meal as a result.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Beer and Food9 Comments

Beer and Food – Punked Thai-style Beef Skewers

Beer and Food – Punked Thai-style Beef Skewers

I have a kind of bloggy confession to make. I’ve been going on (and on, and on) about the joys of pairing beer and food over recent months and yet when I look back through my posts searching for anything to do with this amazingly rewarding past-time I can only find a handful of articles. I have therefore fallen into the classic trap of not practising what I preach.

Not good enough!

Although, in my defence, I actually do practice combining the flavours and textures of beer and food all the time at home, where most evening meals (I tend to skip breakfast) are enjoyed with a bottle of beer to share at the table.

Like yesterday for example, when we decided to have a BBQ at the summerhouse and catch the last warm rays of another wonderful summer’s day up here in Norrland. Fancying something a little more ‘exotic’ than the more traditional pork and salmon meals I’ve recently prepared on the BBQ me and the missus went for spicy Thai-style beer skewers, to which I paired BrewDog Punk IPA.

Here’s what we did:

Cut the thin beef slices (lövbiff) into long strips and put onto wooden skewers (make sure to soak the skewers in water for approximately 30 minutes before so they don’t burn so quickly on the BBQ).
Rub the strips with roughly-cut fresh garlic, lime juice and lime & lemongrass pepper, fresh coriander, soy sauce and sunflower oil (to help them stop sticking to the BBQ grill).

Flash cook on the BBQ (they really only need a minute or two each side otherwise they dry out and adopt the texture of shoe leather) and serve immediately with lightly salted Basmati rice.

To this serve with a dip made of:

Fresh lime juice
Soy Sauce
Fresh chopped Garlic
Crushed chilli
Fresh coriander (this is the secret to this dip so make sure whenever possible to use freshly picked coriander).

.
I drank Punk IPA with this meal (actually I had a sneaky bottle before while waiting for the BBQ to glow :) ) and the beer’s tropical fruit body practically made out with all the lime and coriander. I can also imagine the coriander ‘core’ to this dish makes it a good fit for a Belgium Wit beer (like this one), a herby pilsner (like this one) or a piney US hop bomb (like this one).

There. I feel a little better now, although the Beer and Food category of this blog is still more frozen chicken nuggets when it should be grilled jam-glazed free-range chicken breasts (if you know what I mean).

So please, if any of you have beer and food pairings that work for you, whether you’re a professional chef or a passionate amateur who likes to match their meals with beer (or add it to the ingredients) then why not send them (English or Swedish) to me at darren@beersweden.se and I’ll happily add them to the blog.

Together we can make mealtimes more interesting! Thanks

*This article is based on a post I made over at the new BeerSweden Forum, where members are beginning to add their own recipes and tasty food/beer combos. For inspiration and much more you really should get over there and check it out!

Disclaimer: I’m BrewDog’s Scandinavian representative. I am also the one who ALWAYS gets to peel the potatoes.

 

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Posted in Beer and Food3 Comments

Cheese & Beer Match: Boltjärn Blå and Achel 8 Bruin

Cheese & Beer Match: Boltjärn Blå and Achel 8 Bruin

If my last beer and food tasting was a bit of a letdown I’m a true believer once again after experiencing one of those transcendental foodie moments when all the bits fell perfectly into place.

I was looking to match a beer to a hunk of Boltjärn Blå from Strömmens Gårdsmejeri that long-time BeerSwedian Peter Nyström had kindly sent to me in the post. He said it was one of the best Swedish sheep milk cheeses he had ever tried and set me the task of pairing it with a beer.

Never one to back down from a challenge I peeled back the cellophane to unleash the cheese’s odoriferous assault of overripe fruit and sheep shit. My memory snapped back to days spent as a child playing in farm fields where I’d run with unerring accuracy though piles of sheep manure and be forced to leave my shoes outside the front door when I returned home.

To carry the cheese I choose a slither of deliciously brittle spisbröd from Huså Bröd for its crunchy texture and delicate aftertaste of caraway seeds and olive oil.

But what beer should I choose, I wondered? I sure as hell wasn’t going to make the same mistake as I made with the crème brûlée and let the food overpower the beer. However with a cheese this rampant the beer in question needed some serious clout.

So what about Epic Thornbridge Stout? Nahhh…too much chocolate and I was worried it didn’t have the muscular body I was after. London Porter then, a beer that’s got a surprisingly robust malt character despite the relatively tame abv? Problem is once again it’s mainly coffee and toffee and I was searching for some fruitiness to harmonise with the cheese’s mouldy orchard pear tang.

Then it struck me – Achel 8 Bruin, the latest Trappist strong ale to make its way into the Systembolaget. Here there’s plenty of yeasty fruit and a honey-like sweetness to work with and enough alcohol to smudge out some of the sweaty feet and salt flavours as well as a biscuity maltiness to meld with the spisbröd.

I served the beer at room temperature and it was perfect. Really. I mean not just “oh that’s nice” perfect but “stop whatever the f%#€ you’re doing and come and try this” perfect.

My faith now restored, I’ll be sniffing out more beer and cheese pairings in the weeks to come.

 

 

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Food & Beer Pairing – Crème Brûlée & Modus Hoperandi

Food & Beer Pairing – Crème Brûlée & Modus Hoperandi

There are very few desserts that go so perfectly with beer as crème brûlée, whose rich custard and vanilla base is the perfect stage for citrusy hops to perform on.

Of course to get to it you have to break your way through a delicious mantle of brittle caramel topping. If there’s one sure-fire recipe for success in food and beer pairing it is finding harmonies with toffee flavours. The malt in beer does it brilliantly (whereas wine simply can’t compete).

So what’s the best type of beer to enjoy with crème brûlée? I thought I’d take my inspiration from this handy beer and food matching chart produced by the Brewers Association in the USA.

It suggests a double/imperial IPA will do the trick, I assume because the thick sweet topical fruit flavours can handle the custard and caramel while the edgy hops ensure it doesn’t all get too sweet and sticky.

Unfortunately I didn’t have a double IPA in the house so I picked the closest thing I had  – Modus Hoperandi, a 6.8% US IPA that flirts on the edge of an IPA and its stronger cousin.

Here’s what you need to make approximately 10-12 ramekins of crème brûlée:

12 egg yolks

4 dl cream

6 dl milk (and make sure it’s whole milk – none of that skimmed nonsense)

160 g sugar

2 vanilla pods (it’s not a proper crème brûlée unless you use real vanilla pods, period!)

And here’s what you do:

Heat the oven to 180 degrees.

Pour the cream and milk into a saucepan and heat gently. Split the vanilla pods with a knife and scrape the seeds into the saucepan.

Add the sugar to the egg yolks and lightly whisk. Pour into the cream and milk and vanilla mix and whisk.

Coat the ramekins with melted butter and fill with the mix. Place them carefully in an oven tray and fill it with water until it reaches approximately halfway up the side of the ramekins. Place in the oven for around 40 minutes.

Remove the ramekins and let them cool.

Sprinkle each ramekin with sugar and use a butane torch to caramelise the topping. If you don’t have a torch you can always place them under a grill until the sugar melts.

And there you have it. The perfect beer dessert to enjoy with a big US IPA.

Except it was anything but.

The combined sweetness of the crème brûlée’s fluffy vanilla custard body and crunchy melted sugar topping totally overpowered the sweetness of Modus Hoperandi, leaving it tasting sharp and thin and exposing its boozy bad side.

Oh well. Sometimes you learn just as much about how beer and food combines when something goes wrong as when it goes right.

I’m still a little sceptical about the BA’s advice and so next time I make crème brûlée I’ll try enjoying it with a Scotch ale, a dopplebock or maybe even a barley wine.

What would you choose?

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Posted in Beer and Food7 Comments

Making a Meal of Beer with Garrett Oliver

Making a Meal of Beer with Garrett Oliver

I admit it was a long way to go for dinner.

From Umeå in northern Sweden to Helsingborg on the country’s south west coast it was 1146km to be exact. Bored while boarding I calculated that if I had flown due west instead of south I’d have got halfway to that volcano.

Looking at it another way (I was, after all, really bored) if I had started my journey in Helsingborg and travelled south I could have sipped champagne in Champagne or downed a pint of London Porter in London.

But these are the sorts of irrational things a beer fanatic like me is prepared to do, particularly when something of a brewing rock star comes to town.

Garrett Oliver is possibly the most recognisable face in the international craft beer scene. Not only is he the Head Brewer at Brooklyn Brewery in New York and the man responsible for craft classics such as Brooklyn Lager and Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout but he’s also the author of THE book on beer and food, The Brewmaster’s Table”.

What Mr O doesn’t know about combining food and beer probably isn’t worth knowing. His book is essential reading.

He was in town to attend the Danish Beer Festival the following day. When I first met him an hour before the starters were served he was mildly fuming after discovering two of his headline beers hadn’t made it over the pond because of transportation problems caused by, you guessed it, that volcano.

The menu designed by Mr Oliver.

But being the consummate professional he is Mr O made some last minute adjustments to the menu and 65 people sat down for a master class in beer and food pairings at the stylish Gastro Restaurant in Helsingborg.

Here’s what we ate (and just as importantly drank).

Starter

Tartar of lightly smoked halibut, cream of garlic leaves, white asparagus, raw prawns and quails egg.

To this course we drank Brooklyn Sorachi Ace (that is so new they hadn’t even had time to label the bottles) and Brooklyn Local 1.

For me the winner here was the Sorachi Ace, a beer that’s named after a new Japanese hop variety and that bursts with citrusy lemon flavours. This saison style beer had a nice mineral quality to it and was delicate enough to work with the different flavours in the starter without overpowering them.

Main Course

Herb-crusted fillet of lamb, fresh potatoes infused with tarragon and vinegar, spinach, tip morels, nettles and lamb sauce.

To this we drank Brooklyn Local 2 and Brooklyn Brown Ale.

Now I’m a sucker for lamb and this classically prepared course was sensational. It was just crying out for a beer with some sweetness and spice and it found it best in Brooklyn Local 2, a bottle-fermented Belgium Abbey style beer that oozes boozy rum and dark sugar flavours.

Although I’m a fan of the brewery’s Brown Ale, Mr O’s caramel and roasted tribute to the beer style once popular in the north of England ran out of steam with the lamb, becoming a little thin and one-dimensional.

Dessert

Chocolate ‘fondant’ with caramelised cherries and vanilla ice cream.

Brooklyn Black Ops and Monster Barley Wine finished the meal off nicely!

To this we drank Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout 2009. Now I saw this match coming a mile away and it didn’t disappoint. BCS is one of the best beers to come out of Brooklyn and its luscious chocolate flavours combined seamlessly with this dish. Although a 10% ABV beer BCS is surprisingly ‘light’ in the mouth and had just enough fizz to handle the ice-cream. I didn’t know whether to drink it or cut straight to the chase and pour it over the dessert. Sensational stuff!

To round things off we were served two digestifs – a Brooklyn Monster Ale from 2007 and some Brooklyn Black Ops (which I reviewed not that long ago here).

The Monster Ale is truly a beast of a barely wine, all sticky brown sugar and rum—soaked fruits. The three years it had spent in the bottle had been good to it and it could have comfortably stayed there for several more years.

Happy and full up after an amazing meal.

.

A sweet and alcoholic high to finish a fantastic meal on. A little later in a nearby pub I shared a beer with Garrett and asked him how he had successfully managed to convince so many people that beer was such a great companion to food. Often, according to the great man himself, better than wine.

“I tell people they need to try it. Only by experiencing the amazing combinations between beer and food for yourself can you really ‘get it’”.

(A big big beery thank you to Fredrik from Malt, Humle Jäst & Vatten for treating me to more than one stunning beer in the early hours and for letting me crash on his couch!)

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Posted in Beer and Food4 Comments

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