Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Beer and Jambalaya

Three beers from the fridge

One pan of Jambalaya

But which one to pair with it???

This is another one of those posts that arose out of coincidence. So it was Saturday night and the wife was cooking Jambalaya. I was pondering over which beers would be the better match for this Southern American dish. It later occurred to me that Mark Dredge had covered this way back in 2011, coincidentally using an almost similar set of beers. Nothing wrong with repeating an experiment I thought, so let's get them all opened.

Well it was almost a repeat. A big difference here was that this Jambalaya recipe was taken from the Hairy Bikers, and does not involve scotch bonnet chillies (like Dredge's Jamie Oliver one). In other words, the Dredge was obviously pairing beers with a much hotter dish. Jambalaya is a kind of mixed meat spicy risotto and in Dredge's 2011 experiment, the unexpected winner was the underdog, none other than your staple macro brewed Budweiser lager. For this reason my equivalent, the Graffenwalder Pils was the favourite to conquer in tonight's pairing challenge.

Grafenwalder Pils.

Shoppers at Lidl supermarket may be familiar with the 4.8% Grafenwalder Pils. Brewed probably in some random UK-based factory owned by a faceless corporation. At only 85p per can it's not a bad take on your standard pale lager. Heavier and less neutral than Budweiser with a touch of cooked corn/DMS about it which I don't mind too much. With Jambalaya I immediately noticed what Dredgy was on about. The clean refresher certainly works with this.  The lager sits back whilst cleansing carbonation provides a nice contrast.

Arbor Triple Hop #8 (Mosaic Nugget Simco)

A nice, hoppy, bottle-conditioned 4% blonde ale. Plenty of soft fruity citrus and pine going on here. The slight yeast haze brings a smoothness combined with soft carbonation. For some reason it seems a bit thin, but nice flavours with the Mosaic thing obviously dominating. Enjoyed this greatly with Jambalaya, the nice citrus theme complements the mild spice nuances of the dish nicely. This beer might not have the cleansing power of carbonation Grafenwalder had but for intensity and flavour harmonies it sure hits the mark.

Maui Brewing Aloha B'ak'tun

Now for something different. Aloha B'ak'tun is a 7% Belgian stout aged with chocolate and spices.  I never realised when I bought it that it was a Christmas beer, and a bloody good one at that. Christmas beer meets stout. Cinnamon spice leads to big sweet dark chocolate and coffee, alcohols warmth and Christmas spice. For me this is my favourite stand alone beer of the three. However with Jambalaya the mix is crazy. Bitter dark chocolate contrasts the spice brilliantly yet everything else meanders off in various directions. Very complex but doesn't completely work. It also seemed a bit weird drinking this on a sunny July evening.

So in conclusion this was a close one between the Arbor and the Grafenwalder. I honestly thought that if this dish had chilli kick the 85p lager would have walked it. But because both beer and food were on the moderately subtle side myself and the wife both agreed that Arbor Triple Hop worked the best.


Cherie said...

This is gorgeous!

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