‘It’s time to throw progression out of the window!’ So said Adam Dulye, executive chef and culinary director of the US Brewers Association, as he introduced pairings with a difference at Sager + Wilde, during the BA’s annual UK food pairing event.
‘Through the connection with food, it doesn’t matter where you go in,’ he said.
Rather than starting light with starters and finishing heavy with an imperial stout, ‘the goal is to leave you feeling alert and refreshed’, he said.
By way of illustration, it was Port City’s best-selling wheat beer, Optimal Wit, which was chosen to close proceedings, selected to match a zesty lemon tart.
At the beginning, rather than a meek session beer, two flavourful IPAs - Sierra Nevada’s Tropical Torpedo, and Track 7’s IPA Panic - acted as entrées. ‘The idea is to scrub your palate’, said Dulye. ‘To showcase the soul of the hops.’
A pair of Pilsners, including Hardywood’s elegant Pils, joined a grilled peach salad, where the herbal nature of the Czech hops complemented the tang of salad leaves.
An outstanding match came next. Pfriem's Saison with Gazpacho with Crab and Chilli. Spicy notes, the creamy texture of the soup, and the sweetness of the crab flesh all found complements.
Umami came under the spotlight with the pasta course, an exceptional summer-truffled tagliarini, as Maui’a Big Swell and Saugatuck’s Singapore were wheeled out.
‘IPAs can dance around the palate in so many ways,’ said Dulye, explaining how the taste sensation for hops run along the side of the tongue, while umami rests on the top.
Nebraska Brewing Co’s Mélange à Trois, a 10% abv Belgian-style blonde ale aged for six months in Chardonnay barrels, provided the poise and complexity to partner pork, fennel and baby turnips, before the Lemon Tart closing ceremony, and our exit into the night, suitably refreshed and remarkably alert.
Another masterful glimpse of the potential of beer to wake up the senses and enhance the dining experience.
Available in print and digital format, the BA’s Beer & Food Course, authored by Dulye with certified cicerone, Julia Herz, the association’s craft beer programme director, has recently been reissued and expanded.