Beer is on the brains of those staging the fifth annual AleFeast on Saturday, March 2, at the Dayton Masonic Center.
So while the event’s organizers were already thinking about pairing good beer and good food, we asked them to share tips for putting on a beer dinner at home.
The topic made Joe Waizmann, founder and manager of AleFeast and other beer showcase events in Ohio and Indiana, nearly rhapsodic.
“The whole category of craft beer is just explosive,” he said, noting craft breweries are on the rise. But pairing beer with fine food, he said, is “the next category of discovery” for many beer lovers.
Here are some suggestions offered by Waizmann and others involved with AleFeast:
1. Pair well. Waizmann uses “the three C’s” when he decides which foods to pair with which beers for AleFeast. The C’s – complementary, contrasting and cutting – are the brainchild of Garrett Oliver, author of “The Brewmaster’s Table,” but here’s how Waizmann explains them:
— Complementary pairings result in a “harmonious melding of flavors and aromas,” Waizmann said. In other words, a complementary pairing marries foods and beers of similar flavors and strengths. Lighter foods would go well with a mild beer like a pale lager or pilsner, said David Glynn, executive chef of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base’s Club and Banquet Center and provider of some of AleFeast’s food, including Mussels Cha-cha-cha (see recipe). But malt or other heavily flavored beer would better complement something like blackened or highly seasoned meat, he said.
— In contrasting pairings, “nearly opposite components manage to provide an interesting palate sensation,” Waizmann said. So as Jeff Aylor, chef and owner of Centerville’s Culinary Company, noted, a good contrasting pairing would match a tart or acid beer with a sweet food because tartness and acidity can offset sweetness nicely.
A bitter beer, on the other hand, wouldn’t go so well with sweet food, he said. That would be called a conflicting pairing, which is what you’re trying to avoid when you put on a beer dinner.
— Cutting pairings “refer to a reduction of a major food component, like heat, by a beer style that lightens the dominant flavor,” Waizmann said. So for instance, with spicy food like the Thai fare Aylor will serve at AleFeast, Waizmann will pair an IPA (India Pale Ale, with lots of hops and thus an intense and bitter flavor) or a stout in hopes of helping to cut the food’s heat.
2. Spice it up. If you enjoy spicy food, this is your chance to showcase it because beer pairs better with spicy food than wine, Aylor said. This is why you don’t see a lot of famous wines from regions like Thailand, where the food is traditionally quite spicy, he said.
Also, beer’s carbonation cuts through fats and cleanses the palate better than wine, he said.
3. Try tapas. Waizmann suggested serving a tapas-style feast so your guests can try more pairings.
4. Check pairings with experts. “If you go to any of the local retailers that specialize in craft beer, everybody is extremely knowledgeable,” said Dan Apolito of Archer’s Tavern in Centerville, which will provide pulled pork sliders for AleFeast.
Relax. “Beer is more versatile than wine when it comes to food pairings,” Apolito said; Aylor added that that’s because it’s harder to create conflicting pairings because beer is more forgiving than wine.
“The most important thing,” said Logan Hooper, general manager of The Pub in Beavercreek, which will serve shepherd’s pie at AleFeast, “is to have fun and choose things you like because in the end, they are all the right choices.”
The AleFeast runs from 4 to 7 p.m. AleFeast admission is $50 in advance or $55 at the door. For information or tickets, go online to alefest.com/alefeast_dayton.htm.
Chef David Glynn will serve these mussels at AleFeast. At home, you can serve them hot and add the optional butter. But if you’re serving the mussels cold or at room temperature, he counsels that you avoid the butter because it will congeal.
Because this is a spicy dish, it would pair well with an IPA or stout beer, which would cut the heat.
¼ cup olive oil
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
3 tablespoons chopped fire-roasted green chilies
1 teaspoon chopped jalapeno pepper (canned)
1 pound fresh mussels, cleaned
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup sliced green onions
2 tablespoons dry sherry
1 tablespoon butter (optional)
Heat oil in large saucepan. Add garlic, chilies and pepper. Cook for one minute until veggies release their fragrance. Add mussels and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for about 2 to 3 minutes or until the mussels begin to open. Stir in green onions. Add sherry and toss. Butter can be added at this point if desired.
Enjoy with thick, crusty slices of bread.
SOURCE: Chef David Glynn