When creating a food and beer pairing piece, my goal before even writing was to solidify a concrete understanding of how food and beer related to one another. Not only by taste, but in transformation to the final product. The idea of fire, water, and air came to mind. These three components have played such a vital role in humanity since the beginning and continue to factor the way we innovate and grow both with beer and food.
I have chosen to highlight Goose Island Brewery out of Chicago, IL in my pairing. Since day one, this company has been driven by quality and continues to be a leader of innovation in the beer world. Each chosen beer style below is paired with a recipe, which mutually enhances flavors and compliments aromas and textures.
Once you begin you will find that beer does pair well with your local burger and hot wings, but you will also discover that beer is far more congenial than wine for many foods.
These beers are “brewed for food.”- Goose Island Brewery
The Fire Roasted Shrimp Salad with Garlic Lime Dressing paired with Sofie.
- Style: Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale
- Alcohol by Volume: 6.5%
- International Bitterness Units: 20
- Color: Champagne
- Hops: Amarillo
- Malts: 2 Row, Pilsen, Wheat
One of the first and most important steps in differentiating beer styles is roasting of the malt. Different roasting times and temperatures are used to produce different colors of malt from the same grain. The darker the malt, the darker the beer. Similar to cooking, the longer you place an ingredient over fire the more caramelized and charred it becomes. Fire provides us with the tools to transform a raw product into an ingredient with more depth and complexity. In the recipe, fire was a very essential element in creating smoky flavor and golden sear on the shrimp.
This Belgian Style Farmhouse Ale puts forth complex spicy white pepper and citrus notes, which flawlessly compliments the fresh pop of lime and kick of heat from the citrus salad. I chose to pair this beer specifically with the garlic shrimp because of the salinity and natural sweetness it brings out of the dish, all while cleansing the palate.
The Spicy Chinese Pork Belly paired with Matilda.
- Style: Belgian Style Pale Ale
- Alcohol by Volume: 7.0%
- International Bitterness Units: 26
- Color: Golden Sunrise
- Hops: Styrian, Pilgrim, Golding Celeia, Saaz
- Malts: 2-Row, Caramel, Candy Sugar
Founder of Goose Island, John Hall, set out to change the face of craft beer in 1988 and decided to make a start in his hometown of Chicago. The city was a match made in heaven for any brewery because of the fact it held the largest system of fresh water on the planet. Beer being composed of mostly water, the mineral makeup and accessibility of water holds a important place in the attainment of a quality beer.
Now picture yourself in a kitchen with no water. Just as beer requires water, cooking heavily leans on water for many recipes. In the Spicy Chinese Pork Belly recipe, water is a mandatory ingredient to be able to successfully braise and present a moist piece of meat.
Tasting spiciness in the sip of a beer should evoke a similar spiciness in the bite. The lingering zesty sweetness of Spicy Chinese Pork Belly for example, pairs perfectly with Goose Island’s Matilda because of the beers peppery notes. There is also an opposite approach that suggests that using contrasting flavors can also make for a fantastic pairing. This can be discovered with the fattiness of the pork belly that is perfectly cut by the crisp citrusy finish of a sip of Matilda.
The Double Chocolate Soufflé paired with 2015 Bourbon County Stout.
Bourbon County Stout
- Style: Imperial Stout Aged in Bourbon Barrels
- Alcohol by Volume: 14.2%
- International Bitterness Units: 60
- Color: Midnight
- Hops: Willamette
- Malts: 2-Row, Munich, Chocolate, Caramel, Roast Barley, Debittered Black
Out of all three components mentioned, air surprisingly holds the largest yet most unpredictable weight when it comes to the brewing process. The very first step to making beer requires the starch source to be soaked in water, allowing oxygen to begin germination or sprouting. This is crucial later to allow for the conversion of starches in the grain into become fermentable sugars.
Fast forward a few steps down the brewing process, fermentation considerably influences the character and flavor of a brew. Before the role of yeast in fermentation was understood, fermentation involved wild or airborne yeasts strains. Today, Goose Island Brewery still experiments with wild yeast strains, long term fermentation, and barrel aging in several of its styles including Bourbon County. Just as fermentation has built the foundation for beers since the beginning, humanity has relied on fermentation to eat and survive. Before refrigerators, fermentation was key to preserving food and still today continues to be a considerable part of our diet.
Air is very important in food, especially desserts. More air the better! The Double Chocolate Soufflé can definitely testify to that.
Just when you thought that separately the Soufflé and beer could not get more heavenly, try pairing them together. The Soufflé is dramatically elevated by the intense mix of charred oak, chocolate, vanilla, and caramel of the beer. A liquid as dark and dense as Bourbon County impeccably reflects this moist Double Chocolate Soufflé.
More about Goose Island Brewery-
Outside of what I have mentioned, there are a million factors that play into the science of brewing a great beer. Even though evolving everyday, Goose Island Brewery has unquestionably mastered the brewing process.
Leading the craft of brewing since the brewpub was built in 1988, Goose Island is guided by their strong respect for the history and culture of the brewing process. This team is passionate about their loyalty to their home town of Chicago, but also fiercely driven to share their award-winning beers and innovative methods with the rest of world.
The brewery today uses 32 fermenters, over 15 different yeasts, state-of-the-art filters, centrifuges and a 50 barrel JV Northwest 5 vessel system that brews 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Goose Island’s packaging line alone bottles 500 cases an hour, with their keg line at a rate of 50 kegs every 60 minutes.
I urge you the next time you put a pint to your lips to consider the love that goes into each flavor and how well your sip compliments your bite.