Help me plan a beer pairing menu (with constraints).
July 28, 2008 5:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm planning a wedding rehearsal dinner for about 100 guests. Besides the usual wine service I'd like to do something different and do a beer pairing menu. There are four courses total, but guests have multiple options for each course. I think the logistics of serving will limit us to one beer (about 6 oz) per course regardless of food selection, which is the tricky part.

Here are the courses:

First: popcorn crawfish caesar salad / crab bisque with lump crab

Second: shrimp & grits / crab cakes with corn maque choux and remoulade

Third: grouper with potato croquette & crawfish buerre blanc / duck confit and sweet potato hash / ny strip with bernaise

Dessert: This is the twist, because I have a stout with star anise (heavy licorice taste) I want to serve for this course. What dessert goes with this beer?

Oh -- and I also want domestically brewed suds, preferably from the East Coast. How best to solve this puzzle?
posted by RobotVoodooPower to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
Can I come? This sounds delicious. You don't mention where on the east coast, so I won't mention any specific beers, but I'm sure you've got a local brewery or brewpub that can supply sufficient quantites of any of these styles. We can probably make better recommendations with a location in mind.

For the first course, the bisque is unctuous and heavy, while the salad is probably not. I'd err on the side of light here, going with a not-too-hoppy American Pale Ale, or go even lighter with a Koelsch. A good old Pilsner wouldn't be too bad, either, and it sets you up for getting bigger in the next course without ruining the palate.

The second course is a bit more substantial, but since you still don't want to overwhelm the shellfish, I'd only go a touch bigger. Maybe do the APA here, something a bit hoppier; an English-style IPA, or a smallish American IPA.

The third course is plenty heavy and big to go with a big American IPA here (maybe a Double IPA), and that's what I'd do. Something that's going to be both malty and hoppy; you've got a lot of fatty ingredients there to balance it out, even with the grouper.

As for dessert, if the stout is really big and sweet, I'd serve something chocolatey, but not too heavy. Maybe just some chocolate-dipped fruit. I'd want something a little tart--maybe a few raspberries, too--but pretty simple. It sounds like the beer is the star here.

Good luck, sounds like a great menu.
posted by uncleozzy at 6:22 AM on July 28, 2008

Cinnamon and anise is a frequent combination. Bread pudding comes to mind for me. With raisins. Maybe with cinnamon ice cream.

Lemon also is a frequent combination. I'm thinking along the lines of mediterranean and north African dishes, often with cinnamon, anise, and lemon, or some combination of the three, and sometimes other flavors too, like clove, and, I can't think of what else. Of course, the dishes I have in mind are main courses. I don't know what they do for dessert. Still, some combination of lemon, cinnamon, and clove should go well with anise. Oh, they also use currants a lot, which is why I specified bread pudding with raisins.

Anyhow. Hope that helps.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 6:26 AM on July 28, 2008

Our local chapter of the Tasters Guild does a beer tasting every year; the people who run it also happen to own a wine/beer shop and are more than happy to help with this sort of thing. Perhaps there is a chapter near you you could contact.
posted by TedW at 6:41 AM on July 28, 2008

1. Belgian wit or French saison
2. Berliner Weisse or Flanders Red
3. American Pale Ale a la Sierra Nevada
4. Raspberry chocolate type stuff.
posted by goethean at 7:52 AM on July 28, 2008

This sounds super awesome - really well done. Have you considered just having extra beers on the tables, perhaps served in a big ice bucket? It might allow you to serve a greater variety of beers and accommodate thirstier guests? You could have recommended accompanying beers on the menu...
posted by prentiz at 11:06 AM on July 28, 2008

For your first course I would recommend La Fin du Monde. For your second course I would highly recommend Allagash. These are truly two of the best beers I have ever had. I'll try and think of a good steak paring. Although, really, all beer goes with a good steak.
posted by skewedoracle at 11:51 AM on July 28, 2008

Reading about the beer you have chosen for desert reminded me of this recipe. I think Rhubarb would be a very good ending to the meal.

I'm not sure whether you would want to omit the anise from the recipe, or have the beer bring out the flavor in the cake further.
posted by effigy at 12:24 PM on July 28, 2008

Thanks for all the interesting suggestions. I think a Kolsch or pilsner for the 1st and big IPA for the 3rd are solid choices (it's in Baltimore, so a Clipper City beer will most likely be featued). I'm going to have to find a Flanders Red to remember what they taste like.

The rhubarb is an interesting suggestion, though bread pudding fits in with the Louisiana theme and I do love me some bread pudding. I'm hungry already! :)
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:27 PM on July 28, 2008

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