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2008 Continental Ales
A Rich Pageant of Flavor

Posted: September 25, 2008

By Chad Wulff

In the latest category tasting of the World Beer Championships, we sampled Continental European Ale Styles and Maibock’s.  Let’s start with the Abbey Dubbel category. Goose Island Brewing Co.’s Pere Jacques (93 points) and Anderson Valley Brewing Co.’s Brother David Double (90 points) reminded us that brewer’s here in the U.S. are doing a phenomenal job replicating traditional Belgian ale styles. Try these beers with some grilled lamb chops or fire up some steak kabobs. The rich malt profile of these brews will complement the flavors of the fire and the richness of the meat. A reduction sauce made from either brew would also make a great addition to this meal plan.

The Abbey Triples were excellent as well. Anderson Valley Brewing Co.’s Brother David’s Triple (91 points) and the Issaquah Brewhouse Menage A Frog Tripel (90 points) stood out amongst the entries and would really pair nicely with some fried calamari. Just give a little zip of some lemon juice over the fried tentacles and let the subtle sweetness of the beer gently wash away the tasty fried bits. Not into seafood, prosciutto and some herbed cheese will also work as a great appetizer for your guests.

In the Belgian Blonde Ale category, two old friends stopped by and a new guest made an appearance. La Brasserie Unibroue La Fin du Monde (96 points) was truly decadent and a brew that would certainly be welcome at the apocalypse.  Abbaye de Leffe’s Leffe Blonde (91 points) was also outstanding.  The new comer, Jopen, supplied their Hoppenbier (89 points). This beer was truly unique for the style.  Hints of wild yeast and wonderfully complex layers of flavor proved this to be a great “food beer”. Try the first two brews with some cheese for a snack, I like goat cheddar.  Or for something more sustaining, a fried clam Po-Boy with some citrus aioli is truly a great way to spend your lunch money. The Jopen Hoppenbier would be a great aperitif to get your beer savvy guests talking and then bring out the ceviche as an appetizer before the main event.

The Belgian Specialty Ale category showed some really unique and exciting brews you should definitely try.  La Brasserie Unibroue’s Anniversary 17 (93 points) would be perfect for the end of a patio grilling session paired with some dried fruit, nuts, and a slab of creamy French cheese such as Petit-Suisse.  Drizzle this plate with some honey and prepare for decadence.  Goose Island Brewing Co. introduced us to a new one they’re producing called Juliet (89 points).  A wonderfully tart and refreshing beer with hints of the barrel would also be another way to intrigue your guests and break the ice as an aperitif .  This beer was recently served at a beer dinner I attended and was paired with rabbit loin.  Nothing short of sublime!

Kölsch style beers are great for the summer months.  I like to think of them as the quintessential lawn mower beer.  Clean, refreshing, and moderate in alcohol, they make for great summertime ale refreshment.  Our judges tasted the Goose Island Brewing Co.’s Summertime Kolsch (90 points) and the Brew Brothers Corano Extra Kolsch (85 points).  Try these two beers with a salad.  I prefer a Cobb salad with plenty of hardboiled eggs, but a simple green salad with, say a citrus or shallot vinaigrette, would also work just fine.

Lastly, the Maibocks.  Not as roasted or dark as their big brother’s, the Maibock style is a great beer to enjoy late spring/ early summer.  The alcohol is still there and the biscuit sweet maltiness is a wonderful component to combine with a meal.  I like to pair them with grill-roasted pork and some mashed sweet potatoes laced with roasted garlic.  The Privatbrauerei Plank Laabar Bavarian Heller Dopplebock (91 points) or the Bastone Brewery Maibock (86 points) would both work nicely with this suggested pairing.  Just watch your consumption.  In my circle of friends Maibocks are often referred to as “Mind-Blocks”.  The alcohol in these beers can easily sneak up on you considering how easily drinkable they are. Enjoy!




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