Beer Dinners, and Why They’re Awesome

If you’ve ever attended a well-run beer dinner, you know the treat it is– the thoughtful pairing of beer and food.  I attended one not too long ago, featuring an extensive list of Firestone Walker’s portfolio, paired with wonderful dishes, ranging from Bavarian pretzels (with Pivo Pils) to pork belly (with Double Jack).

Beer and food pairing is an excellent creative exercise, and one Garrett Oliver goes to explain at great lengths in his book, The Brewmaster’s Table.  This is also a valuable concept to understand when studying for and taking your Cicerone exam.

For those of you who follow me and are local to Warren County, NJ, I’ll let you in on a little secret:  I’m brewing up a celebration of sorts, a beer dinner that will feature the three Hackettstown breweries all under one roof.  That’s right, Czig Meister, Man Skirt, and Jersey Girl will share the spotlight one night in the semi-near future at a location I’ll disclose as I get further along in the process.

Excited?  I know I am.

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More Powerful Than a Lauter Tun: Jersey Girl Brewing Co.’s Rake Breaker

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On the docket: 16 oz. can of Jersey Girl Brewing’s Rake Breaker

Poured into: Wine & Whiskey Country snifter

S:  Honey-gold, reminiscent of peach juice.  Hazy, murky, unapologetically New-England in color and appearance with a nice thick cap of head.  I can’t see the bubbles, I’m sure they’re there.  Not a huge amount of lacing, but it’s present in delicate, icing-drip fashion.

A:  Aromas of apricot, tangerine, and peach rocket into your nostrils.  You can detect this heady mélange from nearly a foot away.  A slight malty sweetness creeps out from behind the hops, which are clearly the star of the show.  Stick your nose in the glass when you’re done (and before you pour the next can)- divinely grainy aroma sticks around.

T:  Closely following the aroma, the taste is very juice-like with nearly candied apricot and peach.  Nearly no malt presence at the outset.  After it warms a bit in the glass, there is a slight cereal presence- must be the oats.
F:  Medium-full, despite a fluffiness on the tongue, coupled with a smooth, refined (NOT FLAT) carbonation.  There’s enough bitterness present to provide a nice contrast to the prominent, fruity flavors.

O:  Fans of incredibly hoppy, incredibly bitter West Coast style IPAs should reconsider what it means to brew an IPA.  This version of many craft drinkers most cherished style is large and in charge.  Fruity, tropical, easy to drink.

Suggested food pairing:  Hawaiian pizza, Asian salad with mandarin orange wedges, toast points with orange marmalade, fresh fruit with heavy cream, jalapeno-cheddar cheese

Bonus idea:  Combine with a touch of Cointreau or peach schnapps, garnish with appropriate fruit slice, and you have two ridiculous beer cocktails.