“There is good living where there is good beer. Add food to the equation, and you go from `good’ living to `great’ living,” — Erin Peters (The Beer Goddess)
When people think of food and beverage pairings, they usually think of wine. But with the sudden rise of craft breweries in the United States over the last few years, food-beer pairing is a much-discussed topic in the culinary world nowadays. Even while craft-drinkers are confessing that they prefer matching food to their choice of beer, instead of drinking it on its own, restaurants are collaborating with microbreweries to find suitable crafts to partner with the food they serve. And cicerones – the beer version of wine sommeliers – are helping customers synergize food with craft beer choices at many upscale restaurants.
As a farm-to-table eatery and a 10-barrel craft brewery in Bothell, Beardslee Public House is one of the leading names in the Pacific Northwest when it comes to food and beer pairings. The synergy between Executive Chef Jed Laprade and Head Brewer Drew Cluley has created a complete dining experience where meals can be seamlessly paired with an in-house beer because both are prepared from scratch, within the facility. The chef at Beardslee thinks like a brewer, and vice versa, and people come here because they love good food as much as they love a good beer.
“Different beers have different innate characteristics,” says Chef Laprade. “Some are rich, malty and roasty while some are bright, piney and hoppy in flavor. By complementing, contrasting or cutting flavors, we have created some unique beer-food pairings that enhance and increase the pleasure of flavor in both.”
Complementing implies a matching of flavors in both beer and food to harmonize equably on the palate. Contrasting is about opposing aromas and tastes that somehow balance each other out, while maintaining the integrity of both. Cutting is similar to the role of a tart sorbet in between two rich food courses: it clears the palate and prepares the next mouthful to be a whole new tasting experience.
“When we suggest pairings, we keep all these factors in mind,” says Chef Laprade. “And I would love to share my favorite pairings off the Beardslee food and brew menus that I believe do great justice to the food-beer offerings here.”
Chef Laprade’s first suggestion is for the 4 Ginger IPA that includes fresh, candied, pickled, as well as a Thai galangal ginger. “It’s a hoppy beer, a really bright beer, and my favorite way to drink it is with our Grilled Kalbi Pork Meat Candy, that is a jerky marinated in Kalbi sauce and grilled quickly to put a little char on it. The ginger in the kalbi and the beer play right off each other and make for a full-bloomed, gingery taste that is really delicious.”
Another personal favorite in the chef’s complementary taste profile is matching the big, cast iron chocolate-chip cookie with the dark and roasty, Knotted Porter. “That order goes really well with the chocolate malt flavors in the Porter with a touch of bitterness to offset the sweetness in the cookie,” he says.
On the cut and contrast side, there is the Extra Special Bitter (ESB) which has a little bit of bitterness to it that will cut through the fatty richness of a nice burger with cheese and bacon, and cleanse the palate, if you’re eating a wonderfully juicy burger here. “The bitterness of our ESB cuts right through that richness overload, and ensures you get a fresh bite every time to fully appreciate the juiciness of the burger.”
Which brings us to something that is a little-known secret off the Beardslee menu that few know about unless they are a regular: the Sasquatch Fries.
Chef John Howie himself created a special recipe for these fries at the request of a magazine, and it is still served, though it is technically not on the menu. But `insiders’ always know to ask for it. “Our house fries are laden with smoked gouda sauce and fried onions, and the Cascadian Dark Ale (CDA) is one huge beer that can really stand up to such an onslaught of amazing richness.” Take that, poutine!
Remember to order the Sasquatch Fries, the next time you are at Beardslee! The menu does hide some secret, all-time greats, but Chef Laprade’s kitchen is always ready to prepare them for you, if you only ask for it!
Go ahead, just ask!