Last week, I decided to host my first ever craft beer and Halloween candy pairing event! This blog has quickly become one of my passions, and I was ready to share that enthusiasm with my friends. I've been pairing candy and beer for years, so why not make it an official event.....instead of on my couch!? Challenge, accepted.
How Do You Host A Beer & cANDY pAIRING pARTY?
First things first: you must have 1) food and 2) music. I provided a few dishes such as guacamole and cheese dip, but I also encouraged guests to bring a plate as well. We had a cheese plate (which is obviously my favorite plate at a party) and peanut butter eyeballs to name a couple. For the music, I turned on a Halloween playlist, but also had Hocus Pocus ready to play too!
I began the evening with an aperitif of Brooklyn Brewery's Local 1. You could use any effervescent blonde or champagne-like beer to get people in the right mindset. We talked and nibbled on appetizers for the first hour and then began the tasting.
I had someone pour the beer while I gave a little background on it and give people a chance to try it without the candy. Next, I passed around a plate of candy for everyone to take a piece. While that was happening, I gave a quick note about why I paired the two and what to expect from the pairing. I took a few minutes to let guests savor the goodness before heading on to the next pairing!
It turned out to be an incredible way to celebrate the holiday! I am a believer that there's no wrong way to pair beer and candy because they are two wonderful entities. I can't wait to host it again next year! I have a year to plan it this time *evil laughter*.
Here is my list of recommended pairings from this year:
Ommegang Iron Throne + Candy Corn
Ommegang Iron Throne is a Belgian Blonde clocking in at 6.5% abv that pours a straw-yellow with a thick meringue textured head. Aromas of yeast and floral hops fill the glass. This beer was very light on the palate, with faint notes of banana, clove and a hint of spice. The bubbles danced on the tongue leading into a very crisp finish. I chose to pair this with candy corn because there is a common link between the two: the beer is brewed with honey malt and the candy is made with real honey! The flavors of each medium did not outshine the other, but the prickly carbonation acted as scrubbing bubbles to the soft, creamy candy. I think even a Lannister would enjoy this pairing!
dESTIHL HOPERATION OVERLOAD + sTARBURSTS
Hailing from Champaign, IL, this DIPA clocks in at a hefty 9.6% abv. A caramel malt backbone lends the stage for a resiny assault of hops! Big, juicy notes of grapefruit, pine, and citrus explode once you open the can. Now you may be seeing why I chose Starbursts for this pairing. The juicy fruit flavors in the beer and candy will meet each other with a handshake, while the bitterness of the beer will cut thru the chewy candy.
Southern Tier WARLOCK + rEESE'S pUMPKINS
Southern Tier Warlock is one of my must-have beers for the month of October. At 10% abv, it may even be called one of my "goodnight beers". It pours a deep black color with a taupe colored head. On the palate, you get flavors of roasted barley, pumpkin spice, graham cracker and a touch of vanilla. This is a full-bodied brew with a punch of flavor. I paired it with Reese's because pumpkins and peanut butter have similar textures. The malts of the beer complement the chocolate while the pumpkin, graham cracker, vanilla notes chime in with the peanut butter to create perfect harmony.
And yes, the pumpkin shaped Reese's are WAY better than the regular shaped ones.
Deschutes Black Butte XXVI + Midnight Milky Ways
I was very pleased to find this beer during my trip to Illinois a few weeks ago. Let me give you the commercial description:
Our 26th anniversary Imperial Porter was aged in bourbon barrels (50% for 6 months) and dry spiced with Theo Chocolate's cocoa nibs, revealing hints of vanilla and chocolate. Pomegranate molasses and Oregon cranberries complement the robust flavor with a hint of fruit and just enough tart to make you smile. 10.2% abv
This beer was OUTRAGEOUS. Full-bodied with flavors of bittersweet chocolate and vanilla with an undertone of tart red fruit. This is something I would love to savor....I should have bough two bottles! It was phenominal with the candy. The flavors of chocolate and vanilla complemented the same ones in the candy while the fruit notes added another dimension of flavor. The bitter notes from the malts help cut thru the nougat to reveal every level of flavor in the beer AND the candy. Everyone's tastebuds were saying, "WOW WOW WOW!".
*Needless to say, this was the favorite pairing of the evening.
The Bruery Terreux/Beret + Smarties
I originally wanted to use Pop Rocks for this pairing, but I could not find them anywhere! So if you have them in your town, I think it would be a fun experiment. Anyways, this beer is a sour Belgian Wit with raspberries at 9% abv. A tart, refreshing wheat beer with a funky nose, full body, and finishing with a tart raspberry flavor. A nice way to wrap up the tasting! Speaking of wrappers, I decided to pair this with Smarties because of the tartness factor. What happened was that the tartness of both parties melted into each other, and that allowed the raspberries in the beer to shine. A fun, simple pairing and a shock to friends who may not have had a sour beer before! Trick or treat!
Happy Halloween From Lana Del Beer!
I hope everyone has a safe and happy Halloween! May it be full of tricks, treats & beers!
Cheers, boils & ghouls!
On my recent trip to Illinois, I was fortunate enough to come across a variety of Boulevard Brewing Company beers. How do you choose which ones to grab? This was my first experience with Tank 7, and I do mean this.....I am completely in love.
It pours a deep bright golden color with a head of pillowy foam probably sent from the clouds in heaven. The nose is fruity and yeasty, with notes of spice and hay. On the front of the palate, you get flavors of water cracker, pepper, barnyard, citrus and yeast, leading into a crackling dry, spritzy finish. And the 8.5% abv? Where is it!? This is an incredibly smooth beer that hits all my hot spots. Reaffirms my belief in that farmhouse ales are my JAM.
I'm advocate of the one pot/pan dinners. Why? There's only one vessel to clean in the end! If I'm full as a tick and feeling relaxed, I don't want a lot of clean up.
Hence, this meal idea was born.
My accomplice, Ben, marinated the pork chops in a blend of fresh garlic, soy sauce, and brown sugar. Yum! After a few hours, I let the meat come to room temperature while a cast iron got really hot. Don't forget to use coconut or grapeseed oil...EVOO will burn!
I sauteed the chops for about 4 minutes per side, then removed them onto a plate and into the oven to keep warm. Next, I added about 4 giant handfuls of kale...it will wilt down! Add as much as you like and more oil if the chops didn't leave much behind. When it started turning bright green, I added in a few splashes of chicken stock and about 1/3 cup of dijon mustard. I seasoned it with salt & pepper and added the chops back on top. Finally, I simmered it all till chops were warmed thru and the liquid had mostly evaporated.
Well...Did They Pair Well Together?
I found this to be a very successful pairing! The beer and the meat were the same weight, and the bitterness of the beer offered a nice contrast to the sweetness of the meat (especially the caramelized bits of the meat from the cast iron!). The kale exhibits a bitter, earthy quality already, so that obviously paired well with the beer. The citrusy hops added a squirt of bright lemony freshness. The bitterness of the beer cut thru the vinegary flavor of the dijon while the carbonation lifted the creaminess and cleansed the palate.
Get a fork full with a piece of meat AND the dijon kale.....absolute bliss.
I want to know what you're eating & drinking!
I hope you try this recipe on a weekday night after work for an easy but fancy looking dinner!
If you're on Instagram, hashtag your pic with #LanaDelBeer and let me get a look!
Till next time, Boils & Ghouls (It's almost Halloween)...
He who sleeps well cannot sin.
He who does not sin goes to heaven.
Amen." -- Unknown German Monk
Today I am focusing on the Belgian brewery, St. Bernardus.
Located in Watou, Belgium, St. Bernardus has been brewing beer since the mid-1940's. Before beer, cheese was their main source of profit.
Beer and cheese makers...men after my own heart!
The coolest part of their history is that up until 1992, the head brewer from St. Sixtus Westvleteren was a partner in the brewery and used the Westy yeast strain as the house strain. The same recipes are used to this day! I've never acquired a beer from the Brouwerij de Sint-Sixtusabdij van Westvleteren because they are very sought after and hard to get, so I am glad to have an idea of what they taste like thanks to St. Bernardus!
There are currently 11 breweries who are considered Trappist breweries.
St. Bernardus is technically NOT a Trappist product. Why? There are several stipulations to follow in order to be a Trappist beer, but one reason they are not is because the beer is not brewed within the walls of a monastery. But that's ok!
This recipe was adapted from Paula Deen (can you believe it?). It's rich with flavors of chicken, mushrooms, broccoli and sharp cheddar with a rich sauce made from cream of mushroom and greek yogurt. Bread crumbs on top add a crispy texture to contrast the creaminess. I highly recommend it! It's even better the next day for lunch or dinner!
The rich fruity and spicy flavors of the beer complement the rich flavors of the food while the dry element of the beer helps cut thru all that richness. Thanks to the high carbonation, that acts as scrubbing bubbles to the palate, cleansing the creaminess from it preparing your mouth for another tasty bite! The bubbles also help lift the fat from the palate making the food feel less heavy.
A Tripel is a very versatile food beer. Great with chicken, pork or salmon dishes, anything rich and creamy, pastas with white sauce. There are several different ways you could go with this beer.
In wine terms, you could think of it as a sparkling wine or Champagne. I would love to start a party by handing out flutes of this beer!
I just may do that soon.....
Welcome to my blog! I want to show the world a simple meal paired with craft beer can elevate their dining experience to unique levels. Cheers!