Festive Beer and Food Ideas

Like beer and want to impress the folks with some new food and beer pairings?

twizzleLook no further as I have gathered some new ideas from my travels around the beer globe to liven up any Holiday party this year. Now some of them might sound or look weird to you, but trust me they are tried and tested and are a sure thing for festive success. There are no rules and why not serve the beers in unusual glassware like champagne flutes, martini or margarita glasses, snifters and/or brandy glasses … And don’t forget our motto: beer – food – beer for a premium beer and food pairing experience.

With this I want to thank all the people who posted or passed on these great ideas and suggestions (google recipes and/or ingredients at various sites I used for this blog):

1.   Pilsner-style Lager beer – Smoked salmon-asparagus bundles  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/asparagus-and-smoked-salmon-bundles-recipe.html          White or green asparagus spears wrapped in smoked salmon sprinkled with lemon juice and cracked black pepper

2.   German-style Hefe-Weissbier – Baked banana bacon parcels  http://ifood.tv/bacon/277689-baked-bananas-with-bacon          Oven baked sliced baked banana slices wrapped in bacon strips like pigs in a blanket with either maple syrup if you like it sweeter or chili flakes if you like it hotter

3.   Flemish Cherry Sour beer – Mini cherry meatballs  http://www.yummly.com/recipes/cherry-meatball                              Mini meatballs served on a stick  with a warm cherry coated in cherry juice (from tin or jar) and sour cherry beer glaze (reduce both slowly together to a syrupy consistency with added sugar if needed)

4.   Belgian-style Witbier – Hummus crostini’s  http://sabra.com/recipes/Hummus-Crostini-Appetizer                 Fresh hummus served on an olive oil and coarse salt coated crostini with a drizzle of lemon juice and olive oil decorated with fresh cilantro/coriander, olives and feta/goat cheese

5.   Brown Ale beer – Blue cheese toast  http://www.yummly.com/recipes/blue-cheese-on-toast          Creamy blue cheese and beer spread on a sour dough or pumpernickel toasted bread topped with toasted almonds crunch and a splash of apple sauce or jelly

6.   Munich Helles-style Lager beer – Sriracha Mac & Cheese pots  http://www.tablespoon.com/recipes/sriracha-mac-cheese/94572eaa-31b6-4009-ba1c-cf3123d7c5ea                Individual little Sriracha hot sauce mac and cheese pots served with spicy cherries (work in hot sauce in the mac and cheese recipe to taste and as hot as you want)

7.    British/American-style Pale-Ale beer – Candied Bacon on a stick  http://www.oldtownspices.com/t-recipe-candied-bacon-on-a-stick.aspx                                                                                                                        Oven roasted bacon slices coated in maple syrup – beer marinade (you can add chili if you like it hotter) served in a cocktail stick

8.   Triple Blond Ale beer – Sticky toffee mini-cupcakes  http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/chocolate-recipes/sticky-toffee-cupcakes-with-chocolate-topping/                                                  Beer and caramel sauce glazed mini sticky toffee cupcakes (mix/ reduce beer with caramel or sticky toffee pudding sauce to syrupy consistency to glaze the cake)

9.   Belgian-style Blond Ale beer – Mini-crème brŭllée  http://www.atelierdeschefs.co.uk/en/recipe/10707-mini-vanilla-creme-brulee.php                                                                                               Roasted beer and sugar coated mini-crème brŭllée (mix/reduce beer and dark sugar to syrupy consistency before topping of the crème brŭllée to caramelize the sugar)

10.Irish/English-style Stout Ale beer – Salted melted chocolate bruschetta                   http://www.marthastewart.com/966580/melted-chocolate-fleur-de-sel-bruschetta                                                                                                  Melted sea salt chocolate covered toasted and garlic/olive oil- brushed bruschetta bread (you can add chili flakes if you like it hotter)

11.India Pale Ale-style beer – Mini roast beef Yorkshire puddings  http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/miniyorkshirepudding_11253    Pre-baked mini Yorkshire puddings stuffed with hot or cold roast beef topped with horseradish cream or English mustard

12.  Flemish Sour Red – Soy sauce glazed potted shrimp toast  http://www.yummly.co.uk/recipe/Potted-shrimps-with-Melba-toast-393614?columns=4&position=7%2F42                                    Potted shrimp served on Melba- toast with a drizzle of soy sauce glaze

Have fun with it and send me pictures of your parties when serving these little beer treats.

Happy Holidays!


Selling Ice Back To The Eskimos

At the recent International Brussels Beer Challenge the American brewers took 53 gold medals to only 43 for the Belgian brewers. What’s going on? We beat those guys in Brazil during the World Cup football/soccer, but now we are going down in our own game?

Something unique is happening in Belgium, land of chocolate, waffles, frites with mayonnaise (not French fries please) and of course beer. For centuries we were the top of the crop, masters of the beer universe and kings of the amber brew. However, something is brewing (sorry for the pun) on the other side of the Pond.  This doesn’t mean that we have lost our brewing touch…we are still making great beers! But it seems we will have to learn to share the limelight on the beer stage with other great brewing nations of the world.

The Belgian brewers inspired the American Craft Beer movement and American brewers embraced our brewing culture with open arms, learned from it and created for many years’ excellent copies and variations of our familiar beer styles. Some of the, what is now commonly known as ‘Belgian-style’ beers, are actually better than the originals back home. But this is America which means that in the true entrepreneur spirit they have taken it a step further, or should I say many steps further.

Once they had mastered the Belgian brewing expertise and were producing equal quality beers they changed them into something new, driven by a new passion and innovation not seen for many moons in the old country. Not only did they transform the traditional brewing methods and techniques, they have also applied new and exciting ways of making beer whilst introducing new brewing ingredients, with the same regard and respect for quality and flavor.  The sky is the limit and what we thought wasn’t possible in brewing has been challenged and made America’s own.

So now due to the American Craft Beer Movement the Belgians brewers are inspired, driving them to create new ideas and come up with new beers; we don’t have enough to go around already!  Not only do we see an influx of American beers on the continental market, the brewers are actually copying some of America’s ideas and techniques. In the past for example hops were more used to balance out flavors or aromas, but now we are using hops for flavor and added bitterness. We are even taking over American beer language introducing words like Craft, Sours, Funk and Barrel Ageing beers.

Still not sure what a Double Black IPA is in my books, but if the Belgian brewers can open up to America I guess I can as well. We haven’t got our heads round the high IBU’s yet and personally I hope we don’t, but trust me there is something rambling in the European hops and how they are used in our beers. The great news is that we still have the traditional great classics, but now we have America’s crafts beers to look out for and many more new ideas to follow from our own traditional and many new Belgian Craft  breweries.

And for this I salute them!