Golden Ale & Toasted Hazelnuts
A good golden ale may be hard to find, but the perfect, well-balanced, malty and nutty, attenuated brew is incredibly satisfying, especially alongside food. My optimal choice for pairing a golden ale is nuts, and ideally gently toasted hazelnuts. Washington and Oregon have a lot of amazing hazelnut varieties, and terroir isn’t for nothing: places where hazelnuts grow, barley often grows. It should be a classic match. Plus, snack nuts and beer? You can’t go wrong.
Three Reasons This Pairing Works
- Shared characteristics: nuttiness! A good golden ale should have a light nutty and toasty flavor, usually from Special B or Victory malts. In this pairing, the similarities are nice to compare and amplify each other pleasantly.
- Hazelnuts are naturally sweet, though you don’t usually think of them as such. A lightly sweet and malty golden ale can really help illuminate the sweetness of hazelnuts (note: this also works with almonds!)
- Something interesting happens with two things that share a similar flavor: the other flavors from each come out to play. In this case, the floral or spicy hops in a golden ale are more apparent. Many golden ales use a noble hop or similar, or else an American aroma hop with a mellow flavor. Essentially, you can appreciate the midline notes of this beer style’s hops better when you’re drinking it with hazelnuts. Try for yourself and see!
Good golden ales are, like I said, hard to find. Many are too sweet, unbalanced, or unfocused. But they exist! Try Pike Brewing Co.’s Naughty Nellie for a great example, or check out your local small brewery for seasonal offerings!