How to match American beer with fine French cuisine

Written by on March 28, 2017 in Gastronomy

To celebrate Planète Bière 2017, The Brewers Association hosted a unique event in Paris in March to demonstrate the affinity between craft beers and fine French cuisine. “Impossible!”?

Fine French Cuisine, Meet… La Bière

As American artisanal beers skyrocket into trendiness it was only a matter of time they’d go global. Little did I know when I stood awestruck before an entire wall of them at industrial-space-turned-enormous-food-market “The Source” in Denver, Colorado, I’d be sampling away in Paris just months later.

The setting: new restaurant Le Grand Bain on rue Denoyez, formerly “the graffiti street,” where anyone with a can of spray paint could legally (and literally) leave their mark. For one night only.

The idea: to get French gastronomes to put down those glasses of wine and give beer its chance. Ten different U.S. craft beers would complement each course of a five-course killer menu created by acclaimed chef Edward Delling-Williams in collaboration with The Brewers Association’s Executive Chef Adam Dulye, a leading expert in beer and food matching.

How to match American beer with French cuisine

The meal began with oysters. KOLD ONE (Millhouse Brewing Company, Poughkeepsie New York) was chosen for its clean, grassy flavor, surprising crispness and light sweetness making it the perfect accompaniment. A great start.

Next, seasonal fresh asparagus with grapefruit and a light egg cream was paired with HOPPY TABLE BEER (Allagash Brewing Company, Portland Maine). Easy to drink, it was subtly spiced with coriander. Its partner, BOTTLE ROCKET (Wormtown Brewery, Worcester Massachusetts) had light citrus and herbal notes and also went down well with this dish. Onward.

Coquilles Saint-Jacques, the next course, looked poised to become the evening’s most delicious contender. Ceviche-like, the raw scallops were laced with a tart miso dressing and placed atop a bed of crunchy cauliflowerets. Chosen beers: COLETTE (Great Divide Brewing Company Denver Colorado), fruity; slightly tart with a dry and complex finish, and ELDER BRETT (Epic Brewing Company, Salt Lake City Utah), a wild yeast ale that cleaned the palate.

Fresh seared tuna with radicchio followed. Its Asian-inspired flavors were paired with PRIDE OF TEXAS (Rahr & Sons Brewing Company, Fort Worth Texas), a pale American ale utilizing a hop that imparts a clean bitterness and distinctive tangerine flavor, and DALE’S PALE ALE (Oskar Blues Brewery, Lyons Colorado), slightly sweet, smooth and less “hoppy” than expected. Once again, superb choices.

The arrival of the next course – platters of roasted whole pig and fall-off-the-bone lamb shoulder with a mint sauce and Dijon mustard – produced audible gasps. Beers: STINGRAY IPA (Coronado Brewing Company, Coronado California) and UMBRELLA IPA (Pelican Brewing Company, Tillamook,Oregon). Incredibly clean flavors; definitely something tropical going on.

How to pair beer with French desserts!

Just when it seemed it couldn’t get better, out came white chocolate mousse with hay (!) ice cream. BLUE SUNDAY (New Holland Brewing Company, Holland Michigan), a barrel-soured, deeply-layered brew of malt and oak with a fruity yet tart finish, and KOSMIC MOTHER FUNK (KMF) GRAND CRU (Boston Beer Company, Boston Massachusetts), a beer that more than lived up to its name with undertones of maple, spices, vanilla and even a little cocoa and balsamic going on, stole the show. And what a show it was.

With thanks to Edward Delling-Williams and his Team at Le Grand Bain, Paris and The American Brewing Association

Barbara Pasquet James is a U.S. lifestyle editor, speaker, and urban explorer who writes about food fashion and culture, from Paris. She is known for helping launch, write and edit USA Today’s City Guide To Paris and can be contacted via her photo blog focusonparis.com

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