Beer is, perhaps, the most versatile alcohol in the world for food pairing. This was a sentiment expressed in our November interview with Hallie Beaune and Christina Perozzi, authors of last year's eye-opening craft beer guide, The Naked Pint.
To find out exactly how well beer can pair with anything, we sent them a list of 7 very different L.A. restaurants, all with no corkage fees, and asked for their beer pairing recommendations. Here's what they had to say.
1. Carousel – Lebanese-Armenian
304 North Brand Boulevard, Glendale, (818) 246-7775.
Tripel Karmeliet: Brouwerij Bosteels, Belgium. 8% abv. This Beligan Tripel is made with barley, oats and wheat. It's supper effervescent, malty, estery, and citrusy with a grassy, lemony finish. Pair this beer with the Frog Legs Provencial – Frog legs sauteed with garlic, lemon juice and cilantro.
Saison Foret: Brasserie Dupont, Belgium 7.5% abv. – This is a golden unfiltered organic Belgian ale. The complex nose is full of spices and fruit, with notes of coriander, pepper and figs. The end is earthy with a hint of toffee. This beer would go perfectly with the Mousakka – Eggplant baked with onions, tomatoes, chic peas and peppers.
2. Cobras & Matadors – Spanish
7615 Beverly Boulevard, L.A., (323) 932-6178.
Trappistes Rochefort 8: Brasserie Rochefort, Belgium. 9.2% abv. – This Belgian beer made by monks has complex notes of dark fruit and spice and will work perfectly with the bacon wrapped dates and cheese plate.
Telegraph White Ale, Telegraph Brewing Co., Santa Barbara, CA. 4.5% abv. – This white ale is brewed with coriander, orange peel, and chamomile flowers, and will bring these elements to C&M's Paella, without getting in the way of the seafood and saffron on your tongue.
3. Colori Kitchen – Italian
429 West 8th Street, Los Angeles, (213) 622-5950.
We love the idea of doing Italian beers with Italian food. Most people don't realize that Italy used to have an amazing brewing tradition. They are having a craft brew revolution right now. Unfortunately many of these new Italian craft beers are hard to get in the US. We like the brewery Baladin which is available in the Los Angeles market.
Baladin Wayan: Birrificio Baladin – Piozzo, Italy. 5.8% abv. This Italian farmhouse Saison is made with wheat, spelt, oats, rye and “undisclosed spices.” Citrus, flowery, pepper and petal in the nose, with a nice clean mouthfeel. It pairs perfectly with the Cioppino (Italian Fish Stew.)
Baladin Super: Birrificio Baladin – Piozzo, Italy. 8.0% abv. This interesting beer is an Italian-made Belgian-style Tripel that actually uses an English yeast strain. It's delicious with hints of caramel and toast. Nicely balanced with a rich, creamy body, but with a restrained, effervescent, herbaceous and dry finish. Pairs marvelously with the Tagliatelle Alla Bolognese.
4. El Cochinito – Cuban
3508 West Sunset Boulevard, L.A., (323) 668-0737.
Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier: Brauerei Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany. 5.4% abv. A classic hefeweizen from Germany with nice notes of banana and clove that will work perfectly with the sweet fried plantains used in Cuban food.
Midas Touch: Dogfish head, Milton, Delaware, 9.0% abv. – An old beer recipe created from the ingredients found in the vessels of King Midas' tomb, this complex beer has notes of honey, biscuit, saffron and fruit, great for a dish of cuban chicken made with saffron and black beans and rice.
5. Guelaguetza – Oaxacan
3337 W 8th St, Los Angeles, (213) 427-0601.
Rogue Chipotle Ale, Rogue Ales Brewery, Newport, Oregon. 5.5% – Brewed with Chipotle peppers, this ale will bring out the smoky spicy flavor of the chili in mole sauce and salsas. The touch of sweetness in the malt will pick up a bit of chocolate and nutty flavor in mole as well.
Bison Organic Chocolate Stout, Bison Brewing co., Berkeley, CA. 6.10% abv. A nice drinkable chocolate stout with a lot of dry, baking chocolate flavor that will complement the Black Mole while the mild bubbles cut through the spice of the sauce.
6. Nakkara – Thai Fusion
7669 Beverly Boulevard, L.A.,(323) 937-3100.
(Note: No corkage at Nakkara is just until they receive their liquor license.)
The Bruery Trade Winds Tripel, The Bruery, Placentia, CA. 8% abv. A Belgian style golden ale made with Thai basil, this is the perfect accompaniment to many Thai dishes. The herbaceousness of the basil and the lightness of the body of the beer go perfectly with the nuanced flavors of sweet and spice in Thai cusine.
Hitachino White, Kiuchi Brewery, Japan. 5% abv. A Belgian style witbier made in Japan, this is a lovely beer with crisp notes of pear, try it with chicken larb or Shu Mai.
7. Rahels' Vegetarian – Ethiopian
1047 South Fairfax Avenue, L.A., (323) 937-8401.
Ethiopian cuisine is eaten with injera, the thin pancake bread that boasts a touch of a sour flavor. We like a beer that can bring out this bready, yeasty flavor, while staying dry enough to compete with the spices in Ethiopian food.
Orval: Abbaye d'orval, Belgium. 6.9% abv. This beer is über dry and complex, with earthy, funky flavors and a nice sour punch. Should hold up nicely against the red pepper in these dishes and complement the injera.
Ruedrich's Red Seal Ale: North Coast Brewing Co., Ft. Bragg, CA – 5.5% abv. This amber/red ale has the perfect balance of crisp biting hops and nice malty fruit and will cut through some of the spices like red chili used in dishes like the Yemisir Kik Wot, a lentil stew.