I’m certain I’ve posted something similar before, but figured I’d do it again because I care.
Independence Day in America is coming up fast and while many news posts are focusing on grilling, I wanted to encourage you to drink properly. By that I of course mean responsibly and American.
Look, I love a good German hefeweizen and Belgian Triple as much as the next guy, but you know we have great home-grown versions of these beers right here in America (and they’re typically fresher versions). I know that drinking American beer does not make one patriotic, but in a time where we consume more imports than domestic goods, why not make an active choice to do all you can to buy American for a day, or a week? I’m reminded of the great James McMurtry song, “We Can’t Make it Here”:
Now I’m stocking shirts in the Wal-Mart store
Just like the ones we made before
‘Cept this one came from Singapore
I guess we can’t make it here anymore
This weekend we’ll be faced with a choice. The end cap specials will display cases and cases of Corona and Heineken, Stella and Newcastle on sale for our Fourth of July festivities. On the shelves craft beer fans will find a myriad of great imports as well. Steer clear consciously. Choose to buy American. Better yet, choose to buy local if you can – get your growlers filled, buy a sixer from the brewery.
We make the best beers in the world, craft beer geeks know this while industrial beer drinkers may or may not appreciate it. If you’re a die-hard Stella fan, pick up a pack of Trumer or Sierra Nevada’s Summerfest – both incredibly pale, soft and perfectly quaffable (and brewed in America). If you’re a die-hard hefeweizen fan, there’s all sorts of American-brewed wheat beers (like Kellerweisse). If you’re unsure, just ask someone that looks like they should know – or shoot me an email or comment.
On BBQ & Pairing
If you’re obsessed with finding the perfect beer to go with every single dish you make or eat, I’m sorry. Yes, the right beer will make a great dish better, but not every meal demands this. Certainly not the most casual of tables, the Barbeque dinner. That said here are a few basics to take with you if you’re hoping to score points with friends. The principles have been widely documented – with pairings you want to either complement the flavors of the dish, or contrast them. With boldly flavored dishes, I think contrasting is the best way to go, as adding similar layers tends to muddle the whole experience. One thing not talked about enough is the body & mouthfeel of both the dish & beer. If you have a heavy, fatty dish you’ll want an effervescent and light beer to cleanse the palate. Oh, while highly estery or phenolic beers (your hefeweizens, saisons, etc) are wonderfully refreshing, their spice quality can quickly clash with many grilled dishes.
Oh yeah, I don’t follow any of these rules most of the time and suggest you don’t either. Just drink the beer you like and focus more on the company and amazing weather summertime drinking affords.
• Chicken (glazed): Marzen or Vienna Lager or a Pale Bock – something that has a nice melanoidin character, which pairs wonderfully with grilled poultry.
• Chicken (spicy rub): Amber Ales & Porters are quite good at playing off the spice without compounding the flavors, like a stiff IPA will do.
• Chicken (sauced & soppy): Pilsners and Trippels are great when highly effervescent, which you’ll want to clean the palate.
• Beef (spice rub): Porters, with their roasted and caramelized flavors, play wonderfully with charred red meat, so does a big dubbel. A Flanders-style Red (or something like Consecration) will contribute a lovely acidity and fruit quality that will contrast the flavors in a great way.
• Beef (sauced & soppy): Pilsners again to cleanse the palate, or a bottle-conditioned Belgian-style pale beer (strong golden or something like Rare Vos (Ommegang – which is currently being brewed in Belgium, I believe…).
• Beef (Smoked): Complement with a smoked porter or even an Imperial Stout. I’d also suggest a nutty brown ale if one is handy.
• Salmon (Smoked): Saisons and Hefeweizens with their yeasty spices play wonderfully with smoked fish, especially salmon, and the effervescence cuts right through the fatty quality of the fish.