Beer is NOT the Back-up Singer

Pairing Process

Beer is NOT the Back-up Singer

Michigan is one of the most concentrated parts of our country for craft beer. The quality of our micro-breweries is matched to the best wineries in the country; but why is beer still not recognized in the same regard as wine to food?

“Pairing beer with food has many more advantages than with wine as it has a more dynamic set of possibilities,” said Spencer Channell, Owner and CEO of Dragonmead Brewery. “When pairing wine with food you tend to focus on the finish and making the wine unobtrusive to the dish. Beer is another element of the dish as much as the vegetable, protein, starch or sauce  and can act in such a role to complete, accent, round out, or finish a course to make it greater than the sum of all parts separately. Nothing against wine, I love wine, but when it comes to food pairing, beer opens the door to more possibilities.

This “flavortown” stop has been pumping out incredible brews for more than 22 years and resides in the heart of Macomb County. Not only does Dragonmead’s beer satiate your taste buds with its complex fermentations, but the décor reads medieval-neighborhood haunt. I particularly love to pair beer with food because of its vast complexity. Where wine has its own process to create the refined product that ends up in your glass, a beers flavor relies on many elements such as carbonation, hops, malt, water, and yeast. The combination of these foundations can lead up to the “mac daddy” of food pairing because of the savory components beer can have.

One of my favorite beers to pair with from Dragonmead is Final Absolution which is a Belgian Triple with a whopping 10 percent ABV. Final Absolution is slightly sweet with heavy after notes. Since this beer has such a commanding presence, I would pair it with a crispy duck leg, harissa-yams, brown butter-walnut dressing, and a burnt orange agrodolce. I make sure to sprinkle mint into my dressing to add herbaceous notes, some nuttiness from the walnuts, a pungent citrus vibe from the burnt orange, and a touch of bright sweetness from golden raisins. These flavor profiles read sweet and savory to compliment this beautiful brew perfectly. The fatty duck brings a coherence between each bite and sip that lingers on the palate long enough to fall in love.

When pairing beer with food I first look at the color, then I move to the nose (or smell), and last but certainly not least, I take my first magical sip letting the beer’s flavor and effervescence encapsulate my palette. I write down my perceptions of the beer and then taste again for a second time to really take this interpretation onto the plate. You must always look at the center of the plate, the protein, as your dress and your sides as your shoes. You would never pick out the shoes before the dress.

Beer is a wondrous substance with so much character; it deserves the recognition of your favorite dinner-drinking sauvignon blanc or merlot. Locally, we have a wide variety of craft beer styles all great for pairing. Just make sure to open up your mind and palate to exploration.

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