I have mixed feelings about this post. One of the great things about beer is that it’s approachable, unpretentious, and generally free from a slew of inviolable rules on how to enjoy it. And really, we have enough rules to live by already: Don’t go to Wesley Snipes for tax advice. Don’t mix sleeping pills and laxatives. Don’t stiff a Colombian prostitute…
But I want beer to be considered as useful with food as wine is. And generally, I think it is (perhaps even more so). Beer pairing suggestions abound these days on the Internet. And beer even goes well with dishes that are otherwise wine no-brainers. Not long ago, at the Federalist in DC, I ordered a Port City Porter with my turtle soup and my duck entre. It tasted great together.
And I like getting beer when all the smuggy-buggies are ordering wine. I’m probably not supposed to, but I take a little pride in being an uncivilized beerbarian.
But here’s the rub. Beer needs to continue its growth and acceptance if we want to have great beers widely-available to throw down our pie holes, whatever the occasion, restaurant, or meal. I just hope that as it does so, it doesn’t become less approachable, more pretentious, and subject to a slew of inviolable rules. Because if you want Miller High Life with your filet, I support that.
With that out of the way, and nearing my word limit, maybe we should finally get to the damn purpose of this post. Can Founders Dirty Bastard Scotch Ale beat out a decent Cabernet Sauvignon (2009 Black Stallion) on red wine’s home turf: Lamb Chops (seared, then finished off for a couple minutes at high heat in the oven) with a Haybag-concocted mint chimichurri on the side?
Founders Dirty Bastard: It smells and tastes like the morning after a Heath Bar and a Medjool Date went on a brandy and scotch bender and made some bad decisions together (this is a good thing…albeit awkward for the Heath Bar and date). I thought its smooth maltiness and ever-so-slight kiss of smoke would be a good match with the seared lamb.
2009 Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon: I picked this because…hell if I know. I just always pick Zinfandel or Cabernet Sauvignon with lamb.
This round: Wine won. The Dirty Bastard was good with the lamb, and they didn’t fight. But it was sort of like well-behaved, 2-year-old parallel play: It’s nice, but the lack of interaction is a little boring, and in the back of your mind you worry about it suddenly all going to shit when one of them smashes a Tonka truck over the other’s head.
The wine was a better match. It communed with the lamb in a way that Dirty Bastard didn’t. Its rich flavors and velvety mouthfeel went nicely with the richness of the medium-rare lamb. And its peppery and chocolate notes were a nice addition, too, especially with the chimichurri. They were all like OMG BFFs 4 evs. P911 TML8R.
So what next time? Actually, in a Twitter exchange, the Beer Wench suggested a smoked porter and pointed me to these handy suggestions. She also acknowledged that mint is an odd herb with beer, but perhaps just a dry stout or porter would work. I can’t believe the Beer Wench actually responded to my tweet. Between that, and the fact that beerbecue is the #1 Google search result for “Loch Ness Monster’s G-Spot”, I am running out of blogging goals.
You win this time, red wine. I’ll keep you around for steak, lamb, and red sauce pasta dishes. But there will come a day, and I hope that day is soon, where I will just have a bottle of you around for guests.