At the end of November 2009, I convinced two of my best friends to let me prepare for them a beer dinner. I know, tough to convince people to let you cook for them eh? The following is a reconstruction of the beer dinner I prepared us; it has been broken into parts based on the beers being enjoyed. It was really a great experience to spend a whole day (or a few days) cooking with beer, and contemplating how to best match beers to the foods being served. Here are my thoughts, I hope you enjoy!
Friday: November 28, 2009
In a fortunate turn of events, which was ironically sporadic considering the typically calculated nature of my meal planning, the preparation for Saturday’s Beer Dinner began on Friday afternoon when I realized that the half vacation day I took at work would begin at 1:45pm, not 2:45. This extra hour enticed me to visit the St. Lawrence Market and look for some goodies. My butcher at Brown Brothers, supplied me with a delicately marbled six pound beef brisket for the beer dinner.
My usual brisket involves no dry rubbing or marinade. But the more I thought about beef ribs, the more I questioned why I wouldn’t use a rub or marinade. So once I got home, I went digging; paprika, dried mustard, cayenne pepper, kosher salt, molasses, fresh garlic, a Vidalia onion, olive oil, and cumin all found their way onto my kitchen counter. One flavor was still absent though – the caramelized brown sugar and char flavors that I love so much – in everything.
The choice was pretty clear – something rich enough to stand up to the brisket, but with sweet malt butterscotchy flavors that would dance across the meat; the 2007 Samichlaus Helles Bock. Samichlause is brewed by Castle Eggenberg and is an Austrian Brewery whose geniuses brew their two beers only once a year on December 6th (the feast of St. Nicholas) and age it for 10 months before bottling. They have been brewing beer since 999 a.d. and it still resides in the hands of the original family. The Helles Bock is a 14% giant of a lager – it pours oily and smooth with little to no head if poured appropriately at a cooled cellar temperature. The nose immediately indicates the power and range that this beer holds. Right away the alcohol is apparent blanketing molasses, cognac, vanilla, syrup, rich malt, and toffee. The mouthfeel is as it looks; big and round. The palate builds with warmth and plays with bourbon, butterscotch, raisins, dark vanilla, grain, and complexity. You can taste this beer a mile away. As the beer warms it will glow in your chalice like a rich cognac. The finish is also as you will assume by now, full, warm, and lasting. This is truly a soothing and complex beer – one that will only be appreciated by certain enthusiasts.
I blended all my previous ingredients, whisked that mixture with the Samichlaus, and poured it over the brisket in a large ziplock bag. I sealed it air tight, double bagged it, and left the six pounds of meat in the fridge to bathe in glory over night. This brisket will find its way into the oven 26 hours later where it will slowly cook for four hours.
… Part 2