Oskar Blues Brewery in Longmont, CO makes outstanding craft beer in a can. A few years back, they teamed up with Danny Cash Hot Sauces to make some beer-infused hot sauces (available at the brewery or online here). Being the beer nerd I am, of course I picked up one of each when I visited the brewery back during GABF time last year. But looking for the perfect food pairing to each hot sauce and its accompanying beer, there is an incredibly sparse selection (read: none) of articles on the subject. So I dove in and did it myself. Enjoy!
I was a little stumped how to pair cayenne sauce with a food, as it pretty much goes well with everything. So looking for inspiration, I looked to the beer it’s made with: a hyper-malty scotch ale. Seeing as that pairs well with pork, I made the only pork dish I know, and luckily that dish also pairs well with hot sauce: Scottish Eggs, a beloved pub breakfast food in every English speaking country. Plus, the obvious connection between Scotch Ale and Scotch Eggs just can’t be missed.
The sauce has this sweet and tangy smoky quality that compliments the sausage in a big bad way, adding a gentle but flavorful heat to the fatty sausage. It also adds a sweet malty heat to the calming and soft egg in the middle.
I wasn’t really expecting the beer to pair well with a sausage-egg-hot sauce combo, but surprisingly the cyclopsian Old Chub rounds out the whole experience by being rich and malty sweet, able to cool the cayenne fire while still adding that smoky earthy twang to the sausage. It’s a magnificent compliment to the dish, adding a delightful breakfast-smoky sweetness to a spicy egg and sausage palate.
Chicken has a lot of friends. Mainly, pale ales and hot sauces. But I would argue that the best compliment to the smooth, juicy, universally enjoyed flavor of chicken is best enjoyed with chipotle peppers. There’s just something about that sweet yet smokey spicy twang that best compliments a well prepared chick.
Making beer can chicken is pretty easy, and a standard recipe online will suit you just fine. In fact, unless my palate is just completely dead, you can use any beer with similar results to mine. The point is to provide a continuous source of moisture within the chicken while it cooks, to give you a succulent, juicy bird.
The trick here is the sauce. It’s smokey but not too acidic like the Tobasco chipotle sauce. It’s also got this subtle but unique citrus-like quality, thanks to the Dale’s-infusion; it’s also plenty spicy, giving a firm but polite kick to the slow roasted poultry. It’s not the most eye-opening pairing ever, since a lot of things pair nicely with chicken. But it’s a magnificent highlight to the chopotle sauce.
And it pairs as well as you’d imagine with the beer. Dale’s Pale Ale is a volumously hopped American Pale, bringing a load more citrus and leafy floral hops than the style typically calls for. It’s a good wash for when the heat sets too far in, or if you’re just refreshing yourself after a few bites of chicken.
If ze Germans know anything, it’s how to make a good beer pairing. I mean, you take a bratwurst, boil it in some pilsner, and then add the delightful magic of a pretzel-bun, and you have yourself something that just makes good sense, especially when paired with said pilsner. All that biscuity clean German malt washes yet compliments the pretzel, while contrasting nicely to the meaty and nearly herbal quality of the beer brat.
But how did I get the nerve to put hot sauce on it? Well, I just don’t like mustard that much, and when you think about the similarity in beer preference between Germany and latino nations, I decided a little fusion was in order. The serrano heat is a delightful replacement for the customary mustard, while adding a vegetal herbalness that plays very well with the brat. With the added spice and complexity however, the pilsner seemed just too boring, and not exciting enough to play off the other flavors. Pretty swell hot sauce though!
The sauce has a sweet mango and tropical like tone with a small but intriguing heat. There’s a delicious juicy pepper tone that’s followed through with a gentle caramel and flowery finish.
So it’s really a no brainer with all the shrimp and cilantro and avocado…you know, shrimp taco stuff. It adds a delightful peppery heat to a dish that sorely needs it, though not of any fault of the shrimp or veggies. When used in a good proportion, it can add a balancing fruit tone to offset that Latin greenness. It brings heat, zest, and a smooth tone of sweetness.
And the whole dish pars quite well with the imperial red ale that is G’Knight. Do you know how well a dry hopped flowery caramel tinged ale cuts trough a white corn tortilla, or compliments the subtle heat of chili shrimp? It does it well, is the answer. It also cools the heat down while sweetening the palate from all that vegetable.
Let me start by saying “holyamazeballs this pairing is awesome”. I don’t know how really to start, so let me begin with the sauce. It’s really hot; I mean, it’s a sauce made with the only produce in the world that has become weaponized. But more than that, it has this unique and sweet beginning, like dark cocoa and smokey wood before the sturdy acidic spice kicks in.
So logically, it’s a no brainer to add it to chocolate, especially hot fudge. The deep and rich chocolate sauce not only accentuates the sweetness and smokey anise-like quality of the beer base, but cools the heat to a manageable level, while also adding a nearly molasses-like tone. And there’s just something about spicy chocolate that just feels weird and right at the same time…
So, all of that, on top of vanilla bean ice cream. You get that sweet dairy cream to help cool down any wayward pepper heat, as well as adding a vanilla complexity to an already complex sauce. If you’ve had vanilla bean, then you know how that subtle earthy difference makes it 3x better than regular vanilla. Well, add that earthiness to a spicy chocolate. Yeah.
Oh, and the candied bacon garnish? Began as totally for-fun, but wound up being essential. A light crunch brightens up the creamy goopy mess that your bowl becomes, while adding a brown sugar nuance to the vanilla. And really, bacon makes everything better, even spicy chocolate sauce.
Meanwhile, there’s the perfection that the beer brings in as well. TenFidy imperial stout is a huge malt bomb, loaded with flavor notes like smoke, anise, licorice, chocolate, and burnt toast. It’s the perfect compliment to the creamy vanilla ice cream, while also rubbing away the heat spice, making the chocolate and roasted pepper qualities in the sauce stand out all the more. Meanwhile, the candied bacon adds its brown sugar sweetness to the beer, as well as some delicious meatiness. It’s one of those combinations where 2+2=5, and it is mind-bogglingly perfect.
Leave a Reply