In my house, beer is on almost every celebratory table, but for many Americans, Thanksgiving often leans toward wine–red, in particular. Now I have absolutely nothing against a lovely dinner with wine, but I wanted to remind everyone in their Thanksgiving planning that beer also deserves some serious consideration! I’m thankful for beer. Aren’t you?
Pickled herring is a recent favorite of mine, though it’s a not a new idea–it’s a true old-school European staple. Sour, salty, and a bit sweet, the bright cold oceanic flavors of pickled herring make a lot of sense in Seattle’s maritime climate. While a common drink pairing for Scandinavian cultures would often be aquavit or snaps, I also enjoy it with a roasty, balanced porter!
I recently spent two weeks traveling in the lovely country of Belgium, where I dived headfirst into drinking my way through so many delicious beers I’d never heard of and beers I certainly can’t buy at home. I visited breweries, well-known beer cafes, hole-in-the-wall bars, nearly every bottle shop I saw and I also attended a beer festival. I know for a lot of beer lovers and industry pros here in the US Belgian beers are highly regarded and often hyped to extremes. And while I absolutely would rather be drinking Belgian blondes and faro lambics daily, there’s a lot more to the beer culture in Belgium than just hype. There’s a long history and respect for beer and its place in daily life. Here’s my breakdown–I hope it inspires you to travel, or if not, perhaps just incorporate some of the following thoughts into your love of (Belgian) beer.
Unless you’ve been living under a sober rock, you’ve probably noticed a lot of beers focusing on a particular hop varietal: Citra®. Even if you haven’t noticed the hype, you’ve very likely consumed a lot of Citra® anyway. At 10 years on the market, it’s not really a “new” hop, but its quickly-growing popularity with consumers and brewers has influenced hop farmers to plant heavily. In fact, Yakima Chief Hops and the USDA National Agricultural Statistics Service claim Citra® is the leading variety planted in the Pacific Northwest in 2018! And as you know, Washington state produces 75% of the nation’s hops–meaning that a whole lot of the nation is excited about Citra®. Why exactly has Citra® snagged the hearts and palates of millions?
Who need a witty introduction when you have these two superstars? Because if you’re not excited at the idea of a stout with bacon then I probably can’t convince you to be. But I hopefully don’t need to try. Go do this. Get a nice, balanced stout–not too sweet, and with a good minerality. A noticeable but not overpowering roast. As for the bacon: let’s get it straight. Not all bacon is created equal. Yes, maybe it’s all delicious, but there’s a real difference between your supermarket pre-cut, packaged slices and a bacon that’s made from happy pigs by happy butchers. If you can, check out some at your local farmer’s market or a small butcher shop. Or, make your own! It’s actually not as hard as it seems. I promise.
If I had to pick one berry to eat for the rest of my life, I’d pick raspberries. The queen of berries to me: sweet and tart, soft and seedy, best friends with cream and chocolate…I could wax for a while, but luckily I don’t have to live on one berry alone. However you feel about raspberries, I hope you can imagine them paired with a lovely beer. And I’ve got just that…and a regal beer as well.
- Focus on Malt: Pilsner
- An Overview on Kegs
- Hefeweizen & Citrus
- State of the Style: Pilsners
- Baking with Beer: Bourbon Barrel Aged Stout & Apple Cake
- Ingredients in the Mix: Coffee, Please
- Style Spotlight: The Contemporary Gose
- Black-Owned Breweries
- Pale Ale & (Cold) Roast Chicken
- Belgian Quad & Raspberries