Christina Perozzi, Goose Island educator, on tips for pairing beer for your upcoming holiday brunches, top picks for light spring beers and how to incorporate beer in your seasonal dishes.
What are the most spring-friendly beers? Spring-friendly beers are the ones that evoke the spirit of the season. Beers that have fresh floral aromatics or grassy citrus hops. They are beers that you want to take outside with you as you listen to the birds on your first warm and sunny afternoon. Saisons are the quintessential spring ale and we have a great one at Goose Island called Sofie; it’s a Belgian-style Farmhouse ale that is partially aged in oak wine barrels with orange peel. It’s spring in a bottle with notes of honeysuckle and white pepper.
What is a great beer for brunch (Easter brunch, for instance)? Brunch beer drinking is an interesting challenge, because you definitely want a flavorful beer, but you don’t want to be tired for the afternoon. I suggest a light-bodied crisp clean beer like our 312 Urban Wheat Ale. Its subtle biscuit flavors blend with lemony goodness that pair perfectly with a creamy hollandaise sauce on Eggs Benedict or act like a squeeze of citrus on a smoked salmon blini. 312 Urban Wheat Ale also makes a really delicious ‘Beermosa’ – blend one part orange juice with one part 312 Urban Wheat and you’ve got the perfect brunch cocktail.
What are some beer-and-food-pairing tips for someone who is entertaining this spring? Spring produces some of the best herbs, greens and vegetables of the year; however, many of these Spring treats actually make traditionally difficult wine pairings. Beer is at its best when pairing with these spring ingredients. New artichokes, baby asparagus, and sorrel are all difficult wine pairings, but they all shine with beer. Try our Matilda Belgian-style Pale Ale paired with grilled artichokes in brown butter. Creamy sorrel soup is delicious with our refreshing and dry 312 Urban Pale Ale, and asparagus wrapped in prosciutto harmonizes wonderfully with our herbaceous India Pale Ale.
How can beer be used in cooking spring dishes? One of my favorite dishes to cook with beer this time of year is spring leg of lamb braised in our Honkers Ale. This English-style amber-colored ale has subtle notes of spicy hops and fruits and finishes with nutty, caramel flavors. Throw the lamb and a bottle of Honkers together in a heavy Dutch oven with your final can of last summer’s tomatoes, add freshly sprouted herbs de Provence, cover the whole thing with orange blossom honey, close the lid and roast it low and slow in the oven. Serve it with a fresh mixed green salad and spring will never have tasted so good.