Hoppy Lager & Asparagus

still life with beer and asparagus It’s asparagus season (and roses are in bloom). Rejoice! Asparagus is known to be a difficult food to pair with wine–notoriously difficult, even. Beer, however, is new territory. I chose a light-bodied, crisp lager that was well hopped with bright citrusy and piney hops to go with a simple blanched asparagus salad–a little lemon, nice salt and fresh pepper is really all you need, but a homemade mayo or aioli would be even more exciting.

Three Reasons This Pairing WorksAsparagus and beer

  1. Grassy notes from both hops and asparagus combine to create a lightly sweet, springlike character that is entirely pleasant. This will depend on age of asparagus (older or thicker-stemmed asparagus can get woody or somewhat strong flavored) and type of hops in the beer.
  2. Lagers are typically rather crisp in mouthfeel and finish. This can bring light to the end of asparagus’s flavors–a brightness that lemon also brings out. Both are fun together.
  3. Earthy, herbal or floral flavorsĀ can be heightened by hops. This could also happen from a pale ale or IPA, of course, but that clean finish of pilsner malt and the lagering process allows your palate to focus on the hops very readily. Everyone has a different perception of asparagus probably, but I think it certainly has elements of earthiness, herbs and florals. So it all works well together.

If you can’t find a hoppy American lager, a well-hopped spicy European-style lager could substitute. American light lagers aren’t really the best here as their hop levels don’t typically stand out. For this pairing I used Deschutes Pacific Wonderland lager which is fairly hoppy at 40 IBU and has a light citrus or tangerine flavors from Tettnang Mandarina hops. Experiment with what you can locate near you!



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