Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past few years, you’re at least vaguely aware that beer isn’t just for guzzling while watching football games anymore. Not even in Texas, where ice chips floating in the top of a cold schooner of suds is considered pretty fabulous.
With the abundance of good, handcrafted beers from everywhere available in our midst, it’s no wonder that all kinds of food purveyors are tapping into the joys of pairing great beer with good food. Gastropubs continue to pop up in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, giving you a chance to see how nicely you can find a great edible to go along with your favorite new pilsner, ale, amber or stout.
At Meddlesome Moth in Dallas’ Design District, the food menu raises the bar (so to speak) for all places specializing in beer offerings. Next to each of the food temptation descriptions, you find a suggestion for the style of beer best suited to that food choice. The Moroccan-spiced lamb pot pie, for example, goes well with a dark trappist ale, while the Diablo mussels wants a pilsner to balance its spice kick, and the blue crab salad warrants an India pale ale matching.
At the Mozzarella Company in Dallas’ Deep Ellum, the queen of cheeses, Paula Lambert, offers a monthly class in beer and cheese pairings. It differs month to month, but you’ll always come away with a stronger sense of what cheese goes with which brew – and you can put together your own party at home that will enable you to impress your friends with smart pairing techniques. Did you know that Paula’s Deep Ellum Blue is a great foil for a strong, roasted-hop Belgian dark ale? Or that one of her herbed goat cheeses gets along perfectly with wheat beers so popular in German, French or Belgian brewing? Take one of these classes and you’ll get those smarts.
More and more, we’re seeing beer-pairing dinners on the calendar, too. At one such evening at Il Cane Rosso in Dallas’ Deep Ellum district, the kitchen paired several courses with handcrafted beers from Victory Brewing. The salad course found bananas, grapes and pecans with greens in a mascarpone dressing paired with paired with fruity sweetness of Golden Monkey Triple Ale. The linguine with butter-poached crawfish, proscuitto, walnuts and fresh peas in a white wine sauce complemented the owanuts. Fresh peas in a white wine sauce, paired with herby, smooth Prima Pils. And the heavier course of porchetta with roasted apples, cheesy polenta and Calabrian chile-parmesan fonduta with crisp, German-style malty Headwaters Pale Ale.
In Fort Worth, Brownstone hosted a Rahr Brew evening, saluting the local brewer, with flavorful success. With the starter of salmon croquettes over lamb’s lettuce, potatoes, heirloom tomatoes and caramelized red onion, we enjoyed Rahr’s Blonde Lager, a round, medium-bodied beer. The venison pastrami with jalapeno aioli and cilantro matched the Texas Red Lager’s smooth caramel notes. The bold chicken sausage cavatelli with pepperjack noodles, roasted pearl onions and arugula was perfect with Gravel Road, an amber with strong malt and hops. Finally, the ending of housemade, cinnamon-sugar dougnuts with espresso pudding and whipped cream was ideal against Rahr’s Ugly Pug, a black lager that hints of chocolate and is surprisingly unheavy.