Not this girl. But it never fails, whenever I mention this delightful combination, I undoubtedly get the quizzical, head-cocked, eyebrow-raised reaction. I bet even some of you are a bit skeptical.... But it is my firm mission to see that beer claims it's rightful spot at the breakfast table. Don't get me wrong, I love a double Mimosa or Bloody Mary as much as the next chap, but believe me, beer pairs FAR better with your food (and your hangover) than either of those noble beverages. (If you simply cannot relinquish the nausea-numbing effects of a Bloody, then knock yourself out, and then move on to the liquid grace of a great Craft beer.)
After a considerable hiatus, my tummy growled for another Masterpairings Beer Event at Stone, so I made my way there recently for another of Dr. Bill and Alex Carballo's genius offerings. To use the word decadent is to understate this gastronomic feast by light years, but it is the best adjective my feeble brain can offer.
So it is with great pleasure that I bring to you this Five-Course example of a Beer and Breakfast pairing. Sit back, imagine, and relieve each delectable sip and bite with me....
Dough-Knots, with a Stone Smoked Porter sauce and cocoa nibs.
Although not served with a beer, the sauce was something you might consider drinking. I know everyone at the table was licking their fingers like 5 year olds with their first memorable ice-cream cone.
House-smoked Loch Duart Salmon with frisee and fennel salad, citrus segments, shaved radish, and chive aioli
Beer Pairing: Russian River Redemption, 5% ABV
Uh, WOW. Absolutely from-the-gods Salmon. So perfectly smoked and delicious. (Note: I am a lox, gravlax, smoked salmon fiend. Beware if you invite me to your wedding or brunch, and that's on the menu) This pairing was divine. The Redemption had wonderful, bright aromas of citrus (juice and peel), mingled with hay, wild grasses, yeast, and bread dough. A vibrant entry, with with aromas becoming richer and fuller against the smokiness and citrus of the dish. If this is the key to redemption or salvation, or both, sign me up....
Monte Cristo Sandwich: Pork belly, gruyere cheese, and kumquat habanero jam on challah, deep fried with Stone Imperial Russian Stout batter
Beer Pairing: Chimay Rouge, 7% ABV
Hello, blissful heart-attack. The sandwich simultaneously transports you to your favorite diner, French café, and into the kitchen with its incredible array of flavors. The pork belly, smoked for 8 hours is complemented by the brown sugar and raisin notes in the Chimay. The jam is RIDICULOUS, and I already put in my order with Alex for a jar. If you live in San Diego county, get your hands on it. The IRS batter offsets the sweetness and spice of the jam with a nice, balanced bitterness. This sandwich is must-try for a lazy Sunday. Note the word lazy, because you are not going to want to get up after indulging on this baby.
Chilaquiles: Baked corn tortillas with salsa roja, chorizo, cheese, and tomatillo hollandaise, topped with a poached duck egg
Beer Pairing: Stone Cali-Belgique IPA, 6.9% ABV
Yes, you read that correctly. A poached duck egg. Ahh, fate is smiling on me with this one. I have never tasted Chilaquiles before, so this was my greatest gastronomic adventure of the evening. Thank you Alex. And as my happy tummy would have it, the Chilaquiles/Cali-Belgique emerged as my favorite union of the tasting.
The beer, with its marked clean crispness perfectly complemented the richness and spice of the dish. Notes of lemon, citrus fruits, and grassy hops cut through the delicious decadence of the hollandaise and perfectly gooey egg. And the hops of the beer accentuated the pleasant burn of the spices. A brilliant combination, and one I would highly recommend trying at home.
Fried Chicken and Waffles: Fried Jidori thighs and country sausage gravy served with honey waffles and maple syrup
Beer Pairing: Brauerei Hofstettner Heller Bock Saphir, 7.4% ABV
Holla to the ATL!!! Living right off of Peachtree in Atlanta back in the late 90's, I passed by the packed Gladys Knight's Chicken and Waffles every day, and the smell was heavenly. So my Southern pride beamed with I saw this on the menu. Rich, yet comforting, this could have been a meal all to its own.
The beer with its high carbonation, carried crisp, yet candied notes, which complemented the syrup and the sweet sausage of the gravy. However, some hop bitterness shines through, which helps to clean the palate for another delectable bite.
Paris Brest (or Breast): Cocoa crème patisserie with fresh berries
Beer Pairing: Rochefort Trappistes 10, 11.3% ABV
Ok, so my other favorite pairing of the evening. I said it before, and I'll say it again, Pastry Chef Andrew Higgins makes the BEST desserts to ever touch this foodie's lips and I venture to say one of the best in the country, hell, the world. Take a look at his otherworldly chocolate creations in the Masterpairings event Beer & Chocolate by CLICKING HERE.
I had to put my fork down on this one and exhale. Although my pants threatened to burst at the seams and my brain screamed at me, "I'm full. Stop before it's too laaaaate!", I could NOT let this dessert go unfinished. And with this beer?! Please.
As you know, I just proclaimed Rochefort 10 to be a Beer That Should Be in Your Cellar, so there was no way I was letting this go to waste. The creamy richness of the chocolate was beautifully paralleled in the beer. The Rochefort's notes of dried fruit, spice, and molasses were lovely complements to both the chocolate and pastry. And the fresh raspberries gave a burst of excitement to the palate. Absolute perfection.
I am stuffed just relieving this wonderfully delicious evening, and I hope you have been inspired to try some beer and breakfast pairings on your own. See how much fun it can be?
Until next time,
Be happy, eat well, and as always, Drink Craft Beer.