Archive for the ‘ Food Pairings ’ Category

food.pairing: Avec Les Bons Voeux

Beer: Avec Les Bons Voeux (9.5%)

Brewery: Brasserie Dupont

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Serving: Tulip Glass @ 45°- 50° 

General Beer Description: Whether you are drinking a traditional strength (5% ABV or lower) or a more contemporary version (6% ABV or higher) Saisons should finish dry with very little sweetness.  Saison aromas can be quite complex with a fruit and spice mixture reminiscent of barnyards. Typically their flavors will be malt balanced (leaning towards malt instead of hops) but peppery spice flavors from the yeast and the elevated carbonation levels create a beer with medium bitterness and a dry finish.

These beers pair well with all kinds of cheeses because the dry finish and elevated carbonation help to scrub the palate clean after each drink. Saisons will also pair well with salads that are tossed with spicy greens like arugula or light meats such as fish or poultry.  Spice these meats sparingly as the spices in the beer can add another layer of complexity to any dish.

General Food Pairing Suggestions: Cuisine: Salads. Cheese: Earthy or Nutty. Meat: poultry and fish.

Photo courtesy of

Specific Food Pairing Suggestion: Sautéed sweet potatoes with orange-mint germolata.  Click HERE for the recipe I used to pair with this beer.  Avec Les Bons Voeux, and saisons in general, are excellent pairings with this dish.  The toasted pecans, garlic and herbs resonate with the barnyard-like aromas and yeasty spice flavors found in saisons while the pepper accentuates the dryness which increases the refreshing qualities of the beer.  But the goodness doesn’t stop there, oh no!  The orange zest adds another layer of complexity that pairs well with smooth wheat flavors (think Blue Moon with the lemon wedge) and takes the edge off the spicy yeast flavors. But the beer has the last stand as the alcohol and the elevated carbonation scrub your palate and get you ready to start this adventure all over again.


food.pairing: The Big Game

I just learned that the “S” and “B” word used together are trademarked and shouldn’t be mentioned together or in conjunction with each other unless I wanted a cease and desist order.  Oooops! So I am going to refer to the biggest football game the NFL plays each year, you know the one I am talking about, the one that is so SUPER big that it can’t possibly live up to the hype and that most of the people watching the game are only interested in what kind of dip is in that BOWL and the commercials that air during TV breaks, as The Big Game.

Make this year really special for all of your friends that are coming over to watch… “The Big Game” and don’t serve any light beers! You know the ones I am talking about. Instead try some of the pairings below and start exploring how flavorful beers can intensify, complement or even subdue flavors in your halftime snacks.

New England Cuisine Pairings:

Oysters: Dry Stouts: The intense roasty flavors (coffee, bitter chocolate) in these stouts can briefly intensify the saline, sea tastes in the oysters while the subtle chocolate flavors and perceived bitterness cleanses the palate.  Examples: Guinness Draught, Beamish Stout, Oyster stouts are a double whammy (Rogue, Dogfish Head)

Mussels: Witbiers:  The mild wheat and subtle spice and/or citrus flavors can complement the mussels especially if they were steamed in that particular beer. The beer’s flavors won’t cover up and of the mussel flavors, however, the elevated carbonation and dry finish will cleanse the palate.  Examples: Hoegaarden, Allagash White, Avery White Rascal, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly.

Dunkin’ Donuts: Chocolate Frosting Glazed: Milk/Oatmeal Stouts, Brown Porters.  The sweet chocolaty flavors and velvet textures found in these beers are perfect matches for donuts with or without chocolate frosting but why would you want to eat a donut with out chocolate frosting?  Examples: Sam Adams Cram Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, Young’s Oatmeal Stout, Fullers Porter.

Click HERE to listen to my New England Patriots halftime paring segement on Bo’s Man Cave! (link will open to a file on

New York Cuisine:

Pizza: American Pale, Amber or Brown Ales: Any of these beers will have elevated hops, alcohol and carbonation which will help cleanse the palate.  Also, all of these beers use a similar base malt and that malt imparts a toasty flavor that will resonate with the pizza crust. If the pizza is especially savory (lots of cheese) go with a pale ale.  If the pizza has caramelized toppings then try an Amber because the malt used will resonate with those flavors as well as provide a residual sweetness.  If the pizza has meat (every pizza should) then go for a brown ale as the grilled meats will resonate with the darker malts used in brewing.  Examples: Pale Ales (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale, Full Sail Pale Ale) Amber Ales (North Coast Read seal Ale, Anderson Valley Boont Amber), Brown Ales (Big Sky Moose Drool, Lost Coast Downtown Brown)

Bagels and Lox: Ideally, pair with Bohemian Pilseners sometimes called BoPils but any quality pilsner will do.  Do not get these confused with the Bud, Miller or Coors these are American style lagers.  The malt used in brewing a pilsner will has a soft grainy flavor that will resonate with the bagel while the spicy hop flavor will add a new layer of intrigue to the salmon.  The crisp dry finish will cleanse the palate of the cream cheese and the prominent salmon flavors.  Examples: Pilsner Urquell,

Cheesecake:  Pair BIG beers with this desert! These pairings will blow your calorie allotment for the week so throw your calorie caution to the wind or go home! Pair Imperial IPA’s with caramel or candied toppings.  The malt used in these sweet IPAs will resonate with the caramel. Pair Imperial Stouts with chocolate or dark fruits toppings or fillings. The chocolaty/coffee flavors in these beers will resonate with these fillings beautifully.  Examples: Imperial IPA’s: Firestone Walker Double Jack, Great Divide Hercules, Moylan’s Hopsickle.  Imperial Stouts: Great Divide Yeti, Avery The Czar, Oskar Blues TenFiddy.\

Click HERE to listen to my New York Giants halftime paring segement on Bo’s Man Cave! (link will open to a file on

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite brewery!  Leave your team or conference pride/loyalty out of this and choose the brewery you think has the best beer.  The polls will close this Sunday at noon (PST).  So far the polls have correctly picked 60% of the playoff games lets see how this week turns out!

food.pairing: Koko Brown

Beer: Koko Brown (5.5%)

Brewery: Kona Brewing Company

Style: American Brown

Serving: Pint Glass 40°- 45° 

General Beer Description: American Brown Ales are different from their English counterparts in that they use American ingredients and brewing practices, which in return produce more assertive flavors.  American Brown ales can have a wide range of bitterness but generally they have a noticeable but balanced bitterness that is accentuated by a clean fermentation (none to low fruity flavors) and an elevated carbonation.  American Brown Ales can also have a pronounced nutty, toasty, caramel and/or chocolate flavor.

General Food Pairing Suggestions: Cuisine: Barbecue. Cheese: Earthy or Nutty. Meat: beef. Dessert: Chocolate.

Specific Food Pairing Suggestion: Butternut Squash, goat cheese, sage lasagna

Photo courtesy of Fine Cooking.


This is another great recipe I found in Fine Cooking Magazine for that butternut squash that has been waiting patiently on your countertop. Koko Brown is a unique pairing for this dish because brown ales are usually paired with meat or desert dishes to accentuate toasty or chocolaty flavors. But those toasty and sweet flavors can also be found in this lasagna and that is why this beer pairs so well with this dish.

The sweetness of the butternut squash resonates with the sweet malt and coconut flavors. The toasted coconut (a unique beer ingredient to say the least) used in this beer complements the sweet roasted squash flavors and blends with the butternut squash sweetness to create a brand new flavor combination that is magical.

The “American” part (hops and carbonation) of this brown ale does its part to keep this dish from becoming too sweet or too savory.   The hop bitterness counteracts the sweetness while the carbonation helps to cleanse the palate. If either of these two aspects were subtler then the pairing would be too sweet.

Variations: I didn’t make the fresh pasta (that is just ridiculous;-) but I did use the thin style lasagna noodles.  Also, I didn’t boil the noodles first, there is plenty of sauce to cover the whole dish and bake it until the noodles become soft.  You may want to cover the dish with foil for the first 30-45 minutes but then take the foil off for the last 15 minutes to brown the cheese and re-toast the breadcrumbs on top.

I know this recipe isn’t light by any standards but you may want to try combine this similar lighter recipe from  It had a number of substitutions, some I thought would be outstanding from a taste point of view as well as aesthetically.  I would suggest that if you do combine the recipes you blend the squash instead of leaving it cubed as that enables you to make many thin layers of noodles and sauce.

If you make any lighter variations please share your experiences below in the comments.

pairing.profile: Witbier

General description and suggestion:  Witbiers are one of the oldest beer styles in Europe, nearly 500 years old.  This style would have became another casualty of the lite pale lager invasion if not for the efforts of Pierre Celis who brought the beer style back from the brink of extinction with the popular Hoegaarden.  Since then witbiers have become popular in the US with many brewpubs and microbreweries because they are a pale lager substitute in brewpubs that many “Budmilloors”  drinkers can tolerate.  However, expertly crafted witbiers are a thing of complex beauty to behold and drink.

Witbiers should pour a pale straw color and depending on how long it has been in the bottle or how it is poured it may be quite cloudy.  A common misconception is that the yeast causes this cloudiness and while there is some yeast in suspension the majority of the cloudiness is caused by wheat starch.  These will also pour with a thick, frothy head.

Witbiers are a medium-light bodied beer with light sweetness – reminds me of a delicate honey.  The beer’s sweetness is usually balanced by spices (generally coriander but others may be used), dried bitter orange peal as well as earthy spicy flavors produced by the yeast and hops.  Did you notice the bitter orange peal?  Orange-citrus flavoring has already been added to the beer, with careful consideration to the beer’s balance I might add, so there is no reason for that orange or lemon wedge on the rim of your glass.  Unfortunately these wedges have become standard accompaniments for witbiers thanks to advertising campaigns by Shocktop and Blue Moon. In fact, if you squeeze that citrus wedge into your beer it not only knocks the beer out of balance but it also kills that beautiful head.  So be sure to order your next witbier, “NFO” or “NFL” (No “effing” Orange or Lemon)!

food.pairing: Chocolate Bock


sam adams- chocolate bock

pairing.profile: Belgian Golden Strong Ale


 Golden Strong Ales are just that, STRONG.   Their high carbonation, moderate hopping and spicy phenols from the yeast create a light, crisp and refreshing beer.  However, these pale yellow beers can range from  7% to 12%  alcohol but don’t confuse these with pale yellow American beers low ABV and should be consumed in moderation.



pairing.suggestion: Golden Strong Ales are some of the most exciting and challenging beers to pair with food. The term “Belgian” is a loose style descriptor for beers that get a majority of their flavors from fermentation instead of malt or hops. There are hundreds if not thousands of different Belgian beers each with a unique spicy phenol derived from fermentation.  This makes them challenging to pair because one particular “Belgian Ale” can taste quite different from another so you will have to taste each to fully appreciate its flavor profile.  However, this variety is exactly what makes them so special because you are sure to find a Belgian ale to match any food pairing, especially veggies. Golden Strong Ales will also pair well with salads that are tossed with spicy greens like arugula or light meats such as fish or poultry.  Spice these meats sparingly as the spices in the beer can add another layer of complexity to any dish.

my.favorites: Duvel, Horny Devil from AleSmith, Delirium Tremens, Don de Dieu  This style was developed by the Moorgat brewery, the brewers of Duvel (devil) and now owners of Ommegan (at least partially),  in the mid to late 40’s when the rise of Pilsner beers started to cut into their profits.

food.pairing: Old Fezziwig Ale

sam adams old fezziwig

sam adams-old fezziwig

General description and suggestion: Winter warmers are meant to dojust that, warm you up! These full-bodied beers will often have pronouncedcaramel or molasses-like aromas and flavors as well as a warming alcoholpresence.  These beers also have a widerange of alcohol presence so be sure to check out the ABV before you pouryourself big ole pint.

Often times Winter Warmers or Holiday Ales, as they are sometimes called,are brewed with special spices such as clove or cinnamon.  These spices can make them a perfect forpairing with holiday deserts such as pumpkin pie. If you don’t see adescription on the packaging look at the brewery website or BeerAdvocate.comfor ingredients or taste descriptions.

Specific description and suggestion: First, let me start by sayingthat this recipe tastes sooo good but it is sooo bad for you, as many holidaydesserts are. Also, you can save yourself a lot of time and effort with thisrecipe if you use the canned pumpkin mush but please don’t short changeyourself.  Mashing the fresh baked pumpkinwith a fork then whisking it until it is smooth gives this dessert a muchbetter texture (the best in my opinion) than canned pumpkin.  You won’t regret the time or the effort.

I love it when a single beer pairs so well with a recipe but I getdown right giddy when two beers fit the bill so well.  You will be able to find the Sam Adams mixed winter12 pack just about anywhere unfortunately but Trader Joes has a great price onthe Wassail this season. These two beers pair so well with desserts becausetheir residual sweetness and spicing makes them a dessert to begin with!   Theirspices resonate with the Pumpkin Crisp spices and their full-bodies enhance thecreamy goodness.  The cayenne pepperspiced pecans add fun little kick that will only linger until your next bite orsip.

Pumpkin Crisp

1 Sugar Baby Pumpkin or 32oz of can of pumpkin

4 eggs slightly beaten

3 cups evaporated milk

1 ½ cups sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

½ tsp pumpkin pie spice

1 tsp salt

1 (2-layer) yellow cake mix

½ cup butter melted

1 cup chopped and spiced pecans

Cut and clean pumpkin into thin slices and roast them in the oven at350° to develop an intense pumpkin taste and tender.  Poke with a fork to test. This could take aslong as an hour.  If you need to speed upthe process put slices in the microwave for a couple of minutes untiltender.

Put baked pumpkin flesh in a bowl (stand-up mixer is best) with whiskand beat on high until the pumpkin texture is smooth without any lumps.

Combine all but the last three ingredients.  Pour into a 13 x 9 inch baking dish.

Sprinkle dry cake mix evenly over the top of the pumpkin mixture.Sprinkle pecans on top of cake mixture. Drizzle melted butter over the top.

Bake for 350° for 1 hour