Last week, they announced the next Master Cicerone exam in May in Chicago, and I decided “fuck it” and registered for it. I don’t plan to pass the exam, but I want to do well. A big part of the program is about the pairing of beer and food, so I thought I would examine the Noble Pig dinner happening this Thursday. I can’t go, but I have been there for lunch several times and do love their food. It’s also BYOB, what a perfect chance to get started thinking about this. I just saw something about this today, and have to work, so I can’t go, but I recommend this place highly. If not for the dinner, at least go for lunch sometime.
I’m trying to set this something as doable, nothing which will end up too crazy. These beers should be nothing which are too out of the ordinary. I’m trying to pick beers that you can buy individually at Whole Foods, to share a beer for each course.
Sweet Potato Biscuit with Duck Confit Crepinette, Duck Jus and Quail Egg
This doesn’t sound like a Light appetizer, but something for people who are coming hungry and ready to eat. So the starting beer would need to match that level of hunger, but something also to keep the people ready for more food. I would suggest the Ommegang Rare Vos to start. This Belgian Style amber ale is one of their more mellow offerings. The malts giving it the amber color should complement nicely with the fattiness of the duck and richness of the sweet potato biscuit when you drink it. The peppery character of the yeast, along with the brisk carbonation, should give you an enjoyable contrast and clean finish.
“Shrimp and Grits”
Smoked Shrimp Mousseline, Bacon, Blue Corn Posole, Leeks and Chili Vinegar
This sounds good. Writing this and thinking about the food is making me hungry, but I’m only on the second course. I gotta recommend a saison with this. Really, cause I just love a good saison, and think there isn’t any better general beer with food. This probably the best course, because a saison would go well with either Shrimp, or Grits. And I think the best one for this is still the classic, Saison Dupont. The only problem with this beer pairing is that you might finish the meal hungrier than you started. Also, if you decide to only have one beer for the meal, I would recommend getting a champagne bottle of this one.
Smoked Ham Hock, Shoulder, Corned Pork, Italian Sausage with Collard greens and Black Beans
I didn’t really realize yet how much this meal is inspired by the south, so I think I should recommend a southern beer. The Real Ale Brewers Cut 004 is an imperial red ale. And delicious. This beer is big, but it needs to be to match up to such a hearty course. A hearty malt backbone with an equally hearty amount of American hops. I imagine it will match well with the smoked flavors of the meat.
Banana Ice Cream with Plantain Crumble, Caramel and Peanut Twills
The Ranger Creek Small Batch series has been pretty great, and I think the bourbon aged imperial smoked porter might be the best one they’re made yet. The previous 2 courses were both smoked, so why not get a beer with some smoked malt to go with the last course. I think the bourbon flavors will match nicely with this meal, and there are few better desert beers than an imperial stout or porter. This is also probably the hardest to find of the beers I’ve listed. It might be breaking the rules a bit, but it’s worth it, and get another to hold on to.