Pale Ale & Arugula Salad
It’s spring! And time for fresh, bright green things. As breweries ramp up to their spring and summer seasonals, I’m excited to showcase a few basic pairings that you can experiment with. Today we’ll start with my favorite perky salad green, arugula, alongside an American pale ale of light body and mildly citrusy hops. American pale ales come in a huge array of sizes, colors, flavors and packages, so I’m leaving this one intentionally open for your personalizing. What you will definitely want is a bright but not too dank hop profile, a light nuttiness in the malt, and a general “easy-to-drink” feeling. I chose a favorite pale, Fremont Brewing‘s Universale Pale, but a pale with more spicy notes or more grapefruit notes would also be amazing. A light dressing on the arugula completes the picture!
Three Reasons This Pairing Works
- Spiciness. Arugula, especially the baby wild stuff often has a spicy, almost radish-like flavor that spicy hop notes can mirror and amplify. Big tastes!
- Malt sweetness. To slightly temper the mild bitterness and grassiness of arugula, a lightly sweet and nutty American malt flavor is fantastic. Sweetness can cancel out bitterness, or just make it easier to grasp. Sometimes bitterness assaults the tongue and doesn’t leave room for the fine points of flavors within–so just like bitterness in beer, a nice balance lets you experience it all.
- Citrus qualities in some hops can go great with arugula, especially alongside a citrus-focused vinaigrette or dressing. This just brings the pairing together and into a fun, bright area. Experimenting with other citrus fruit added to the salad is highly recommended!