Rhody Beers and Bites

foodbeerWe asked five local beer-and-food savants to talk perfect pairings. Dig into their plates and pints….

Brian Oakley, general manager at Pizza J and Julians: I have been spending a lot of time with pizza lately. I probably eat at least one slice of pizza every single day. When I finish my workday, a slice of pepperoni with a Proclamation Tendril (American IPA) is pretty solid. Hops and tomatoes are a classic combination. There is something magical that occurs when the two meet. They play off each other, showcasing the citrus elements that each possesses while contrasting their respective bitterness and sweetness, all the while high-fiving you between sips and bites.

If I’m in the mood to mix it up, I grab a slice of one of our house pies — The King Tidal Wave, our take on a Hawaiian style. Our Chef Marty makes an amazing spicy tasso ham and combines it with fresh roasted pineapple and scallions on top of our cheese pizza. I’ll gladly have that with a Revival Night Swim’ah, a Belgian-style wheat ale that fer-sure will induce a relaxing vacation-like state of mind. Or if I feel like getting upper-level complex, I’ll have that same slice with a bottle of Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier Weizen, a smoked wheat ale from Germany. The smoky flavor plays nicely with the ham and helps smooth out the spice. The beer’s body is big enough to stand up to the intensity of the flavor combos on the pie, but light enough to be refreshing and work off of the pineapple. Beer and pizza…a classic combo that is always good. Who’d-a funk it?

Sam Glynn, owner of Chomp (and the new Statesman Tavern): One of my favorite pairings is Proclamation Ale Company’s The Stalk with the House Burger from Chomp. The burger is rich and fatty with the bacon and the beef gets a little acid and kick from the pickles and Chomp sauce, but The Stalk cuts right through all of that to refresh the palate with every bite. It’s a pretty magical experience.

David Dadekian, founder of Eat Drink RI: When it comes to beer, I drink all kinds, but I’m a stout lover. Fortunately there are several outstanding stouts made here in Rhode Island and my favorites tend to come from two brewers: Proclamation Ale and Revival Brewing Company. Sadly, four of them are very seasonally limited, so when I can get my hands on Proclamation’s Zzzlumber and Broze, or Revival’s Juliett Imperial Stout and Elder Dweller, I do. But Revival’s White Electric Coffee Stout is in wide release, so I always have some on hand at home – and it’s doubly great for the guy who runs Eat Drink RI because it combines products from two local companies! As for pairing these fine stouts with food, there’s nothing better than the true BBQ that I smoke at home with meats from Blackbird Farm in Smithfield. The White Electric Coffee Stout is particularly nice with a Boston butt/pork shoulder that I dry-cure overnight, then slow-smoke for six hours, then blast-sear to crisp the skin. Coffee and pork go well together in general, and stouts make great sauce, so you can even use a little of the White Electric Coffee Stout with the dish. Just make sure you buy plenty to drink and dine with.

Kyle Bessette, co-owner of Rogue Island: My favorite food item on the Rogue Island menu is the [Johnston-based] Baffoni Farm fried chicken sandwich, and I’ll pair it with a Proclamation Tendril when it’s on tap; if not, I’ll go for Derivative (a pale ale). I don’t care what version of Derivative is on tap, I love every single one from Dave and his crew!

Sean Larkin, master brewer at Revival Brewing Company and consultant at Brutopia Brewery: My favorite thing that I have eaten this year as a pairing was the Pork Banh-Mi that my partner JT did for one of our events. He took our Bushido (pumpkin-saki) beer and braised pork in it, then served it with Mercy Brown Ale. Ahhhh-mazing! He has also been making caramel Mercy Brown popcorn and Juliett Stout Truffles and serving them in our tasting room. We are also working on some other creations that will keep you cool for the summer. Watch out for the Laughing Gorilla because we are coming for you.

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