A pint of watery lager and a dozen fluorescent, hot-sauced wings? A whatever burger and an equally mundane beer?
Up until recently, beer and food pairings were rudimentary, to say the least. John Holl, author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook (Storey, Aug. 27), sees something of a renaissance going on right now in the American craft-beer movement. The high level of interest and care about where our food is coming from, he says, has transitioned into the world of brewing.
For this cookbook, Holl has rounded up recipes from breweries, brewers and beer-forward restaurants from all over the country. It makes for a collection that is miles away from your run-of-the-mill chicken-fingers-heavy pub grub.
Holl’s goal for The American Craft Beer Cookbook is to bring together good food and good beer. So, it’s no shocker that he tapped quite a few local breweries for recipes and beer pairings. Sly Fox out of Phoenixville kicked in a take on a Belgian classic, Saison Vos mussels, which sees the mollusks simply steamed with a farmhouse ale, along with garlic, shallots, butter and parsley. When it comes to matching beers and food, head brewer Brian O’Reilly leans toward contrasting flavors. “For me, the most satisfying pairings are the ... ones where the beer cleanses your palate and gets you ready for another bite,” he says. Case in point: rich, buttery mussels and the tart Vos.
Hershey’s Tröegs Brewing Company plays with contrast even more intriguingly — shards of deep-fried chicken skin topped with a mustard-and- pickle-spiked smoked-bologna mousse. What to drink with this salty-smoky bite? Troegenator, a warm, malty doppelbock that cuts through the inherent richness of the over-the-top combo.
Other close-to-home recipes from the cookbook include a fall-perfect, apple-wheat berry salad from Earth Bread + Brewery in Mt. Airy and a just-in-time-for-Oktoberfest Festbier cheddar bisque from Victory.
When asked about favorite beer and food matches, Holl had plenty to say. “I love the rye soft pretzels. And the veal sage medallions are perfect for this time of year, when your herb garden is overflowing. But I have to say, lately, it’s the pale-ale pineapple -brown-sugar cupcakes.
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