Alaskan Brewing Heritage Coffee Brown Ale Paired with Coffee-Rub Steak

Beer? Coffee? Steak? Yes please.

A few weeks ago, I received a treat in the mail.

It was the new "Pilot Series" release from Alaskan Brewery: a Heritage Coffee Brown Ale. Plus I got a packet of coffee beans from Heritage Coffee Roasting Co. (also from Juneau, Alaska) which were the same blend used to make the beer.

I'm not a coffee drinker, but I have enjoyed some coffee stouts and porters in the past. But a coffee brown ale? I had never seen one before. I was immediately intrigued by this new style.

Andrew and I opened up the bottle to taste it. Since I'm not a coffee drinker, I didn't really know what to expect. Sometimes coffee stouts and porters accentuate coffee flavors so much that it turns out too roasted, too intense, and sometimes even on the edge of burnt and bitter.These attributes are usually too much for me. The Alaskan Coffee Brown Ale had none of these overpowering attributes. Because its a brown ale, everything is scaled back and the true essence of the coffee beans take center stage.  I was pleasantly surprised and never thought I would enjoy something so coffee-flavored before!

After doing a bit of research, I learned that Alaskan Brewing made the beer by roasting some of the malt for it in the coffee roaster used at Heritage Coffee company. Since malt roasts at a much lower temperature than coffee beans, they had to be very careful not to start a fire. Doing this clearly was well worth it!

The Pairing

I made Andrew go to the store and buy two more bottles of the Alaskan Coffee Brown Ale so we could play around with them. I wanted to pair our next bottle with a nice batch of brownies, but he had the idea of using the coffee beans to make a coffee-rub steak. Winner!

I often warn people about pairing flavors in drinks with the same exact flavors in food. For example, I once made some spicy tacos and paired them with a chile-flavored beer. On its own, the beer was amazing. But with the food, it didn't taste like anything. Quite often if you pair food and drinks together with too-similar flavors, they'll end up cancelling each other out.

I was afraid that would happen to this meal, but that was not the case! In fact, giving the steak a little coffee flavor with the rub accentuated the Alaskan Coffee Brown Ale just perfectly. Nothing about either was too overwhelming for its partner.

If you live in a state that carries Alaskan Brewery beers, I strongly suggest treating yourself to this Coffee Brown Ale! Like I said, I don't even drink coffee, yet I loved this beer. It goes great with steak but will also pair nicely with anything that you'd eat with coffee. Beer for breakfast, anyone?

Side note, this beer is a limited release so if you're not reading this in the fall/wintertime, it might not be available for purchase. But you can sub a different coffee-flavored beer in if you'd like.

Coffee Rubbed Steak with Alaskan Brewing Coffee Brown Ale | CaretoPair.com
Coffee Rubbed Steak with Alaskan Brewing Coffee Brown Ale | CaretoPair.com

The Recipe

Andrew created this simple rub by grinding the coffee beans down to espresso and adding other ingredients to complement the steak. We didn't want to make things too spicy, which might contrast with the beer, so we kept the cayenne pepper low. If you prefer a bit more spice, feel free to add more cayenne to the rub. To cook your steaks, we suggest following our recipe for the reverse-sear method. Its the only way we make steak anymore because they turn out perfectly every time!

Rub recipe adapted from food.com.

Coffee-Rub for Steaks

Serves: 4 Steaks

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp finely ground espresso
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt (or sea salt)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 teaspoon white pepper, freshly ground
  • 1 1⁄2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne

Instructions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and mix. Coat your steaks on all sides with the mixture and rub in well.
  2. Follow our instructions for reverse-seared steak (link above) or cook normally to your own preferred method.

Happy Pairing!

Favorite Beer Cheese Soup Paired with Oktoberfest Lager

Let's throw all our reservations about health out the window and enjoy this beer cheese soup. Made with 3 types of melted cheese and beer, how could it be anything but amazing? Its the perfect accompaniment to a cold night and a stein of Oktoberfest.

I am quite the sucker for dairy. I would say Andrew and I eat pretty healthy, but there are a few ingredients I must have in my fridge at all times: butter, sour cream, heavy cream, and cheese. It would be a healthier problem if I always needed vegetables in the crisper, but that's not how I roll. Last week I actually had to reach for the larger sour cream size at the grocery store than what I usually buy because...well...we just go through a lot.

This soup is my ultimate comfort food. It is beer and cheese, after all. It's also really bad for my waistline, so I treat myself to it once or twice a year when the air starts getting a little crisper and the temperature drops. Right around this time in October when all I want to do is cuddle up on the couch with a warming bowl of soup (and beer).

I've tried a few different variations of the recipe and the one I'm sharing with you today is hands down my favorite. If you've never tried beer cheese soup before, be prepared for a new level of love for cheese. If you're prone to heartburn, you might want to be prepared for that too. I promise its worth it though.

The Pairing

Do you think this pairing is a little obvious? It's a no-brainer that beer goes with cheese, that's why they are in the soup together. Many beers will go with this soup, but my favorite is Oktoberfest lager. My reasons are purely because I have this soup in the autumn which is when I'm in full Oktoberfest mode. And although this soup isn't technically German, it definitely fits the profile for something you might have with Oktoberfest fare. If you want to make this soup when Oktoberfest is not in season, don't be afraid to try something else. Below are my favorites to pair with this soup next to Oktoberfest lager:

  • German Pilsner, like Weihenstephaner or Spaten
  • Amber Lager
  • Marzen
  • Brown Ale (but nothing too roasty)

Avoid:

  • hoppy ales, like Pale Ale and IPA
  • roasty stouts or imperial anything (too much alcohol and depth)

The Recipe

Go ahead and splurge on high quality cheese for this recipe! It can make the difference from a great soup to a mind-blowing soup. When choosing a beer for it, many options will work. You can use anything from a cheap domestic lager with minimal flavor to a dark, malty doppelbock. Just stay away from adding a beer that is bitter, citrusy, hoppy, or super roasty. (My suggestions above apply to which beer to put in the recipe as well). If you want to serve something alongside the soup, check out these awesome homemade pierogi.

Favorite Beer Cheese Soup

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 30 mins

Total time: 35 mins

Serves: 4

Adapted from the Sprecher Brewing Company's recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 Cup Shredded Pepperjack Cheese
  • 2 1/2 Cup Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
  • 1 1/2 Cup Shredded Swiss Cheese
  • 1/2 Cup Butter
  • 1/4 Cup Flour
  • 4 Cups Milk
  • 9 oz of Beer (see note above)
  • 1/2 Cup Cream
  • 1.5 tsp Onion Powder
  • 1.5 tsp Garlic Powder
  • pinch of White Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp Tabasco Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce

Instructions

  1. Melt the butter in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and add the flour, whisking to incorporate. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile in a large soup pot, heat the milk to a simmer until steaming but not boiling. Add all remaining ingredients except for the butter and cheese; whisk to combine. Bring the soup to a steaming state again (without boiling), then slowly add the flour and butter roux from the other pan. Stir to thicken the soup up a bit.
  3. Add a little bit of the shredded cheese and stir consistently until it has melted into the soup. Continue adding cheese and stirring. When all the cheese has melted and been incorporated into the soup, reduce the heat to very low and let steam for an additional 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Happy Pairing!

Pumpkin Ale Pairing: Brown Sugar Chicken Thighs with Apples

It's pumpkin ale season!! Are you as excited as I am? I think pumpkin ales come and go too quickly every autumn. They get released in August when it seems way too hot to even think about the changing of the seasons. I usually begin craving them sometime in September, but this year summer still stuck around too long. And then last week October 1st hit. The temperature dropped and the rains came. I'm currently wearing sweaters and slippers. Pumpkin ale season has finally arrived.

Fall is my absolute favorite time for beers because both Oktoberfest and Pumpkin ales are released. Even better, there are two types out there for us to choose from. There are the sweeter, spiced ones that taste like you're eating a piece of pumpkin pie, and then the ones that are just... PUMPKIN. I like them both, of course, because anything pumpkin is a winner in my book.

The Pairing

Right off the bat it can seem overwhelming to pair pumpkin ale with a meal. Sure, we like to drink them, but do they actually pair well with food? The answer, my friend, is YES.

For this brown sugar chicken thigh recipe I made, I chose the new pumpkin ale Alaskan Brewing just released. In previous seasons they made a pumpkin porter, but this year they lightened it up into a brown ale. The beer has some of the cinnamon and nutmeg flavors we all love in pumpkin ale, but its definitely more of a PUMPKIN beer than a sweet dessert beer. If you're not a fan of tasting super sweet pumpkin pie and want more of a "beer" flavor in general, then this ale is for you. How does it pair? The slight sweetness from the pumpkin spice complements the brown sugar in the chicken thighs, but isn't too sweet to overwhelm it. Since it is a style of brown ale, the caramelized and toasty malt really plays on the charred, roasted skin on the chicken. And the slight sweetness coming from the apples ties it all together. Is your stomach grumbling yet?

Other Beers That Work

If you're reading this and pumpkin beer isn't in season, fear not--other beers will work. Pick a beer with those caramelized, toasty flavors, like a brown or amber ale. You could even go as dark as a porter, but be careful: if the beer is too roasty or burnt (like stout), it will overwhelm this dish. Also, stay away from hoppy beers like IPA or pale ale that will be too fruity and bitter.

The Recipe

I've got to make a shout-out to Chung Ah over at damndelicious.net for providing the original recipe for this dish. It is amazing what a little brown sugar and butter can do to a seemingly boring weeknight chicken dish. Feel free to make this with any cut of chicken, but bone-in chicken thighs are particularly juicy (and budget-friendly). To make this an autumn-appropriate meal, I added thinly sliced apples to give it that hint of sweetness. It really was a match made in heaven with the Alaskan Pumpkin Ale. Serve with mashed potatoes and roasted brussel sprouts for a complete meal!


Brown Sugar Roasted Chicken with Apples

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 40 mins

Total time: 45 mins

Serves: 4

Original recipe adapted from damndelicious.net

Ingredients

  • 4 large bone-in chicken thighs
  • 3 Tbsp butter, devided
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
  • 1/4 Cup brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1 apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In an oven-proof skillet, melt 2 Tbsp of butter over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin side down. Sear until golden brown for about 2-3 minutes. Flip chicken over and sear other side the same.
  3. Set the chicken aside when both sides are golden brown. In the same skillet, melt the remaining 1 Tbsp of butter and add the garlic, stirring frequently until fragrant, about 1 minute more.
  4. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the brown sugar, honey, oregano, thyme, and basil. Place the chicken back in the skillet, skin side up, then place in the oven.
  5. After 20 minutes of cook time, remove the skillet from the oven. Place the sliced apple into the sauce of the skillet and stir. Return the skillet to the oven and cook for an additional 15-20, or until the chicken juices run clear when cut into.

Happy Pairing!

Oktoberfest Beer Pairing: Homemade Pierogi

Although pierogi are Polish and it may be considered a sin to pair with German beer, I'm doing it anyway! These babies are filled with potato, garlic, and cheddar and are just begging for an amber lager like Oktoberfest to accompany them.

I just spent the entire afternoon making pierogi. Yep, an entire afternoon. And I'm not going to lie that besides it being time consuming, it also took a lot of elbow grease. This is not meant to discourage you though!  The good news it that I now have about 60 pierogi nicely packed away in the freezer for future dinners.  So the next time I'm too lazy to cook, I'll have plenty of homemade freezer meals! I will gladly take one afternoon of hard work for that!

Bonus: This is one of the most budget-friendly meals I have ever made. All it really cost me were a few potatoes and a block of good cheddar cheese.

The Pairing

These Pierogi could honestly go with any beer. After all, potatoes and cheddar are pretty accommodating ingredients--they're really not going to overwhelm any beer nor be overpowered by one either. Since its the end of September (already!) and I've got my mind on all things Oktoberfest and...German??...whatever. I really had a hankering for making these!

So, why pair these with an Oktoberfest lager? Oktoberfests, being German, are very malty lagers. This means  they have a great "breadiness" to them. You won't find any hoppiness in these beers my friends, as the bitterness is there  to just balance out the beer. German Oktoberfests are tending to get lighter and lighter each year whereas American Craft versions are a bit darker and maltier. Since the pierogi are packed with potato and cheese filling, they are a natural accompaniment to the caramelly toastiness of the beer. And the sour cream makes this pairing even better.

My favorite Oktoberfests

German Oktoberfest

  • Paulaner
  • Spaten
  • Weihenstephaner (almost drinks like a pilsner. Try this one if you're weary of darker lagers)
  • Ayinger
  • Erdinger

American Oktoberfest Styles

  • Brooklyn
  • Victory "Festbier"
  • Sam Adams
  • Tenaya Creek (local Las Vegas brew)

Don't have access to this seasonal style yet? Fear not, as I said pierogi go with almost any beer. They're especially great with German Pilsner and Vienna Lager.

The Recipe

Pierogi can often be an accompaniment to a meal or a meal in itself--its all up to you! I put together a delicious sauce for these cheddar-potato pierogi so they can shine on their own as a main course. Think sour cream in a garlic-sauce form... its absolutely amazing and worth the 5 extra minutes rather than putting a dollop of plain cold sour cream on top.

Can I mention again how CHEAP this recipe is to make? I didn't intentionally make it for that reason, even though I'm on this ridiculous $30/week grocery budget goal, but check out the ingredients to make these...my wallet is super thankful!

Pierogi dough adapted from Martha Stewart's basic pierogi recipe

Ingredients

For the Dough:

  • 1 large egg
  • 2 Tbsp sour cream
  • 1 Cup whole milk
  • 1 Cup water
  • 5 Cups all purpose flour, plus more for surface dusting

For the Filling

  • about 5 lbs (or 11) yukon gold potatoes (substitute floury potatoes okay)
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 3/8 Cup milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 C sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
  • 2 Tbsp butter

For the Sour Cream Sauce

  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 Cup dry white wine (or chicken broth if you don't have one open!)
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard (do not use a grainy mustard)
  • 1 Tbsp minced fresh chives

To Make the Pierogi

  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg and sour cream. Stir in the water and milk. Add the flour 1 cup at a time, whisking into the mix fully before adding more. By the 5th cup, the dough will be very thick.
  2. Place the dough onto a floured surface and start kneading. To knead, push very hard into it with the palms of your hands. Fold the dough in half then turn a quarter to the right. Knead again, then repeat the folding and turning steps for about 8 minutes, until the dough is no longer sticky. Add flour to your work surface as needed throughout this process.
  3. Place the cough back in the bowl and cover with saran wrap. Let sit for at least 1 hour before using again.
  4. While the dough is resting, make the filling: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Peel and quarter the potatoes and place in the boiling water. Add the smashed garlic cloves to the water as well. Cook for about 18 minutes, until the potatoes are soft.
  5. Drain the softened potatoes and garlic. Add them to a large bowl along with all the remaining ingredients for the pierogi filling. Use an electric mixer to blend everything together. A kitchenaid comes in really handy for this part!
  6. After the dough has sat for an hour, break it up into about 4 pieces. Roll one piece out onto a floured surface and roll until it is about 1/8 inch thick. Take a mason jar, large cup, or 3" round cookie cutter and stamp circles closely to each other in the dough.
  7. Take each circle of stamped dough and place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle. Fold the dough in half and pinch the outside edges together, making a half-moon-looking dumpling. Repeat this with all the remaining dough (this is the time-consuming part!). After your dumplings are created from each batch of dough, be sure to store them on a cookie sheet or platter covered in saran wrap. Do not pile them all together or they will clump together (as I unfortunately learned).
  8. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and submerge about 10 pierogi at a time in it. The pierogi will sink to the bottom for a few minutes, then rise to the top. Let them float at the top for 2 minutes, then remove. Continue this step with all the pierogi until completed.
  9. If you are intending to freeze your pierogi, this is the time to do it. Place pierogi in a single layer on a piece of wax paper on a cookie sheet. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes, then remove and place in a freezer bag. This ensures that the pierogi will not stick together.
  10. If you are intending on eating some of the pierogi immediately, you can either eat them as-is or pan-fry them (which is my favorite). Just put some oil or butter in a skillet over medium heat, then place the pierogi in a single layer. Fry for a few minutes until browned, then flip and do the same.

To Make the Sour Cream Sauce

  1. Heat the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the minced garlic and stir until fragrant for about 1 minute. Be careful not to brown the butter or garlic.
  2. Add the white wine and bring to a boil. Turn down the heat and simmer until reduced about half. Mine reduced very quickly, taking about 2 minutes.
  3. Slowly add the sour cream, little by little, along with the mustard. Stir continuously until the sauce has thickened. Make sure the sauce does not come back to a boil.
  4. Once thickened, turn off heat. Stir in the fresh chives and serve over the pierogi.

Happy Pairing!

Camping Edition: Whiskey BBQ Chicken and Coleslaw Beer Pairing

Warning! This post is filled with camping fun that may make you want to grab your tent and head to the woods to enjoy a delicious campfire dinner.

Andrew and I went camping last weekend for the first time since moving to northern Nevada. Ahhhhh nature how I've missed you! Camping is one of my favorite ways to relax and wind down...and usually to hang out with friends. But this time, for the first time since we started dating, it was just me, Andrew, and the dog...

This camping trip was different though because my love of cooking meal planning is starting to get out of hand. Gone are the camping days of hot dogs and beans and boring sack lunches. This time I researched and planned every meal in advance. On top of that, my sister bought my husband The Great Outdoors Cookbook by Sunset Magazine and the pictures in this book  have had me itching to get out to nature and cook over a fire. And by that I mean have Andrew do all the work of getting the fire going.

I'm quickly realizing that the key to eating well on camping trips really is preparation, which is such a win-win now that I've come to terms with my obsession of meal planning. I knew we wouldn't be getting into camp until the sun went down the first night so I prepared marinated steak kabobs that we could just throw on the grill while setting up. Then for the next night's meal, Whiskey BBQ Sauce Grilled Chicken, I made the barbecue sauce and chopped all the vegetables for the coleslaw the day before we even left on the camping trip. This way, minimal dishes were made dirty while camping (amen!) and we didn't have to work too hard to get our dinner on the table--all we had to do was cook the chicken and glaze it!

Kudos to Andrew by the way for starting our campfire without matches! (intentionally)

The Pairing

Okay, I have to admit that drinking good beer and pairing with food on camping trips is not on the top of my priority list. In fact, camping is one of those situations where I fully believe in "time and a place for every beer" and look forward to drinking PBR, High Life, Olympia, Hamms, or Ice House (yeah, I went there). Not to say you can't be drinking good beer on a camping trip by any means...its just when you're drinking beer all day like we do on camping trips, the lightest beer in weight and flavor work better in our bellies than heavier craft beers.

However, pack a few of the good ones to treat yourself at dinnertime. Especially with the dish I'm featuring on this blog post: whiskey barbecue glaze served with homemade coleslaw. The chicken has a decent amount of sweetness from the barbecue sauce so a beer with balanced malt (nothing too hoppy) will work well. There's also a good amount of char on that chicken so a beer with slightly roasted qualities is ideal to match that char.  These beers are my top picks in descending order:

  • Brown Ale (think Brooklyn Brown, Lost Coast Downtown Brown, etc)
  • Amber/Red Ale
  • Vienna Lager
  • English Pale Ale/ESB
  • American Pale Ale
  • Kolsch
  • Pilsner

The Recipe

This dinner was possibly the best I've ever had while camping. But I'm not taking credit for it, we indeed used one of the recipes in The Great Outdoors Cookbook my sister gave us. You do the majority of the prep work at home so putting it together at the campsite is a cinch! Just make sure to keep the sauce and the veggies for the coleslaw separated until only a few minutes before you eat it. I can tell why the recipe said to do that; the veggies soaked up the sauce pretty quickly and could be mushy and gross if you let it sit too long before eating.

I hope you enjoy this recipe next time you go camping! I found a digital version of this recipe so click here for the directions. I'm looking forward to finding more camping recipes to pair with beer or wine for our next camping trip!

Happy Camping and Pairing!

What Beer to Pair with Barbecue Ribs

There's nothing quite better in the summertime than a good barbecue. This beer pairing with sweet, sticky barbecued ribs is the reason "opposites attract" in the pairing world.

The Fourth of July is this weekend! I thought I would help y'all out on how to celebrate by showcasing these delicious ribs I cooked up recently. I'm especially excited for the fourth this year because I finally live in a normal town that celebrates holidays. Vegas was always too hot to do anything for the fourth. This year, my sister is coming up to celebrate and I plan on barbecuing all. weekend. long.

The Pairing

For the first time ever I made these sweet barbecued ribs; did you know these take HOURS to make? Not going to lie, almost every time I crave ribs its on short notice so we end up just making some grilled with a dry rub. But if you want the sticky, finger-lickin kind, you gotta put in the time!

Sweet foods can be really difficult to pair with beverages. Forget wine on this pairing--nothing will work. The sweetness from the glaze would just make any red wine taste bitter and astringent (from the tannins). White wine wouldn't really stand up to the meat either. What we need here is beer. Its more appropriate for a barbecue, anyway.

For this meal I chose one of the best things with barbecue: Brown Ale. Some of you might think "BORING!" but have you tried Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron? Ringing in at 12% alcohol, its anything but boring.

Why brown ales work with sweet barbecue: contrast. Brown ales have a good roastiness to them without being too roasty (like a dry stout would be). This character works with any char you'll get from the grill (see that beautiful char on those ribs above?) while also balancing out the sweetness from the glaze. On top of that, most brown ales also possess a little bit of sweetness as well, which will complement the sweetness in the dish. When it comes to barbecue and grilled foods, brown ales are your winning ticket.

Side note--although I initially chose (and took pictures of) the Dogfish Head Marron for this post, when Andrew and I were eating the meal, the high alcohol and super-duper extreme roastiness of that beer was borderline overpowering to the ribs. We tried it with a few other brown ales with lower alcohol which fit much better as pairings.

My Beer Pairing Suggestions

Brown Ales

  • Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale
  • Anchor Brewing Breckle's Brown Ale
  • Victory Brewing Victory Village
  • Brooklyn Brewing Brooklyn Brown
  • Abita Turbodog
  • Tenaya Creek Bonanza Brown

Other Beers

  • English Brown Ales (more sweetness than American Brown Ales)
  • Milk Stout
  • Foreign Extra Stout (high alcohol but overall sweeter)

The Recipe

This barbecue rib recipe doesn't actually require any barbecue sauce, instead you make your own glaze. And the glaze has beer in it! Use whatever you're drinking, or brown ale since that's what we're pairing this recipe with. Also--if you don't have a grill that allows you to cook with indirect heat, feel free to use your oven to make these.


Barbecue Ribs

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 45 mins

Cook time: 2 hours

Total time: 2 hours 45 mins

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 lbs. pork baby back ribs (or spare ribs will work too)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1 1/2 Cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp beer (American lager, pilsner, or brown ale will do just fine...whatever you're drinking)
  • 1 tsp red chile flakes
  • 1 tsp dry mustard

Instructions

  1. Heat a grill (or oven) to medium-low (about 325 F). The key to cooking these ribs is with indirect heat, so make sure there is no gas burner or charcoal area providing direct heat to where the ribs will sit.
  2. Remove the membrane from the underside of the ribs. We do this because it can cook the ribs unevenly while grilling. There are lots of online resources if you need to learn how to do this.
  3. In a small bowl, mix salt, pepper, and cayenne. Sprinkle each side of the ribs with this mixture and rub in if necessary. Wrap the ribs in foil and let sit for 30 minutes.
  4. After 30 minutes, place the ribs in their foil bone side down on the grill over indirect heat. Place a drip pan underneath the meat so your grill/oven doesn't get any liquid on it. Cook, covered, for about an hour, until the ribs are fairly tender when pierced through the foil.
  5. Meanwhile, make the glaze: in a bowl, combine the light brown sugar, cider vinegar, beer, red chile flakes, and dry mustard. Whisk together and add a little water if you want it to be a bit more "saucy". Set aside 1/4 cup of the glaze to use as sauce when eating.
  6. After the ribs are done, transfer them to a rimmed pan, carefully remove the foil and place them on the grill again, bone side up.
  7. Baste ribs with the glaze. Cover the grill and cook for about 10 minutes. Every ten minutes, turn the ribs over and baste with more glaze, until the ribs are browned and tender, about 30-40 minutes total.
  8. Remove the ribs from the grill when finished and tent loosely with foil for about 10 minutes. Brush the 1/4 cup of reserved glaze over them and serve.

Happy Fourth of July, and Happy Pairing!

BLTA Paired With DBA

I love this play on words for this pairing! What in the world is a DBA? And...dare I suggest that maybe not everyone knows what a BLTA is?

I've been obsessing over lunchtime lately. Its because I really, truly, hate breakfast. It used to be my favorite meal as a kid; I looked forward to the typical breakfast of cereal on weekdays and waffles or pancakes on weekends. But about 5 or 6 years ago, it all turned sour. Literally. The thought of drinking a glass of milk now makes me cringe, whether it be slurping up the remnants after my morning cereal is gone, or side by side with delicious brownies like these. And don't get me started on yogurt--I still force myself to eat it most mornings with some fruit and granola, but it is definitely something I equally don't look forward to.

Needless to say, I usually skip breakfast. This means that by 11 am, I am STARVING, and thus lunch has become my new favorite meal of the day. It is also an appropriate time in my book to crack open a beer (depending on how productive my morning was, of course) and pair it with whatever deliciousness I'm making myself .

The Sandwich

A BLTA is simply a bacon-lettuce-tomato sandwich with the addition of avocado. In my opinion, I think we should do away with BLTs altogether and make them all BLTAs. Avocado gives a boring BLT that needed savoriness, creaminess, fattiness that we love so much. As a kid, BLTs would hurt my mouth given that the bread was toasty and the bacon crispy. That's not the case if you add avocado! I took my pictures with the avocado sliced on top of the sandwich, but you can easily make it a substitution for mayo by spreading the avocado on the toast....mmmm. Too bad its so early in the morning, otherwise I'd go make myself another one of these right now.

The Beer Pairing

So what is DBA anyway? DBA is the short way of saying Firestone Walker's Double Barrel Ale. Technically characterized as a British Pale Ale, this little gem from California is a great lunchtime beer. I think the name is a bit deceiving; you might think this is a dark, heavy beer given the words "double" and "barrel" in the name. But look at that color! The beer has a great maltiness with toasted biscuit notes; the hops balance it out rather than overpower it, giving it just enough bitterness to cut through that bacon and avocado on our BLTA! This is a great day-drinking ale because it is still light and refreshing while giving you a mouthful of flavor. Although a BLTA could go with something as light as a Pilsner or American Lager, you really want this added toastiness in the beer to complement the toastiness of the sandwich. (Get it?) Side note--if you're just getting into beers or aren't the biggest fan, this is a great one to try since it has lots of flavor but isn't overpowering by any means.

Other Beers to Try with this Sandwich

Lets be honest--there are a lot of beers you could make work with this sandwich--It is subjective, after all! In my opinion though, browns and ambers go best with the smokiness from the bacon and savoriness of the avocado. Try these other beers if Firestone Walker DBA isn't an option for you:

  • Anderson Valley Boont Amber Ale
  • Ballast Point Calico Amber Ale
  • Speakeasy Prohibition Ale
  • Goose Island Honkers Ale
  • Newcastle Brown Ale (England)
  • Adnams (England)
  • Samuel Smith's Old Brewery Bitter (England)

The Recipe

This sandwich is not hard to make, but if you've never made one before, here's your recipe!


BLTA Sandwich (Bacon-Lettuce-Tomato-Avocado)

Author: Dani (CaretoPair.com)

Prep time: 5 mins

Cook time: 5 mins

Total time: 10 mins

Serves: 1 sandwich

Ingredients

  • 2 pieces good-quality bread
  • 1 large leaf romaine lettuce (or any lettuce will work)
  • 3 slices tomato
  • 2 slices of bacon
  • 1/2 avocado
  • mayonaise (optional)

Instructions

  1. Cook bacon until crispy in a fry pan; set aside.
  2. Toast the bread in a toaster oven or toaster. Ideally, you want the bread toasted enough so that it is not floppy, but not too crispy so that you can still create a sandwich.
  3. After halving the avocado (lengthwise), cut slits into one side lengthwise. Take a spoon to scoop out the slices.
  4. Assemble the sandwich: Smear mayonaise onto the toasted bread if desired. Top one piece of toast with the lettuce, tomato, bacon, and avocado slices. Complete the sandwich with the top piece of toast.

Happy Pairing!