Today I bring you the latest installment in the Brewers’ Blog, a series of occasional blogs from brewers and beer experts. This entry comes from Marshall Brewing’s Wes Alexander.
(Blog programming note: The weekly Big 12 (Lack of) Power Poll is taking a break this week.)
Take it away, Wes:
Just like spring, fall brings a physical metamorphosis for our environment. Crisp mornings and changing leaves give way to colder weather and the holidays. Perhaps my favorite time during the changing of the seasons is Thanksgiving. Indeed, Thanksgiving is a time of bounty and celebration, so share some American craft beer with your family at your holiday table. Not convinced to try beer at Thanksgiving? History shows that the Pilgrims were forced to stop at Plymouth Rock due to a shortage of beer. An entry from the diary of a Mayflower passenger explains, “We could not now take time for further search… our victuals being much spent, especially our beer…”
Traditionally, porters and stouts find their way to the market as well as Christmas beers with flavor profiles ranging from evergreen to spices of the season such as cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and clove. Here at Marshall Brewing, our winter release is Big Jamoke Porter. (TTB note: Big Jamoke is available in six packs this year for the first time.) Our American robust porter offers roasted malt flavors complimented with bittersweet chocolate and espresso-like flavors and finishing with dry earthy notes. Perhaps the most common question we get about Big Jamoke Porter is, “Is this brewed with chocolate and coffee?” In fact it is not, however, there is an excellent explanation for those flavors being found in porters and stouts.
Without going into too detailed explanation of the brewing process, malted barley is one of four main ingredients in brewing beer. Malted barley can be roasted to varying degrees to offer different flavor profiles and color. Contrast the color of pilsners and porters. The difference comes from the roast of the malted barley. Much like the coffee beans, the color and flavor of the final product are affected by the roast of the ingredients. Further, note the similarity in flavor of roasted malted barley to that of the roasted coffee bean. This is due to the caramelization and concentration of flavors in both the coffee bean and the malted barley.
These winter seasonal beers deserve a place at your Thanksgiving table. The first principle we look at when pairing beer and food is intensity. Consider the typical feast with smoked turkey and ham, gravy, candied yams, your aunt’s green bean casserole and pumpkin pie. To compliment these flavors and intensity, porters are an excellent choice. Savory dishes are particularly complimented by the roasted flavors found in porters, but don’t overlook the sweets. Pumpkin pie is a surprisingly good match with its coalescence of both savory and sweet flavors.
Additionally, don’t forget about beer as an ingredient. Brining a turkey produces a well-seasoned and moist bird. Use equal parts of your favorite porter and water in your brine to impart the earthy, roasted flavors of porter. Deglaze your turkey roasting pan with a little porter to add a bit of sweetness to the savory flavors in gravy. Finally, add a stout or porter to your favorite chocolate or fudge cake. You can find our favorite recipe from King Arthur Flour here. Happy Thanksgiving!