Searching for the line between "hobby" and "obsession"

Great beer pairings as of late

My wife recently made a really tasty recipe for pan-fried chicken and shallot cream sauce, garlic red potatoes and asparagus. It paired really well with the kölsch I made back in April. Damn has that beer ever cleared with time. Love it! I’ll definitely brew another kölsch this year. I like how it treads the line between the fruitiness of an ale and the clean malt profile of a lager.


The night before my wife went into labor, we hit up Sawatdee downtown on Washington Ave. in attempt to ingest some spicy curry and kick things into gear. Contractions didn’t start until the next evening, but it was a valiant attempt. My wife is usually one to shy away from spice, so I was very surprised she was open to hot thai food for the sake of starting labor. Fine by me. I don’t think I’ve had occasion to eat food this spicy for the past six years since we’ve been together. It was a nice change of pace. When the food came to the table I though “oh I should have ordered more” but man, I had a very hard time finishing the dish due to the insane spiciness. I’m currently reading The Brewmaster’s Table by Brooklyn Brewery’s head brewer Garrett Oliver. Garret notes how hoppy beers are great with spicy foods. The hops complements the spice nicely, yet the carbonation lifts the spicy oils off the tongue and helps wash them away so the spice doesn’t linger incessantly. I had a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale and a Summit Extra Pale Ale with dinner. Definitely preferred Summit over Sierra, though that might have been because the Summit was on tap while the Sierra was out of a bottle. The Summit (pictured) just came across so much smoother.

Now that baby Cecilia has arrived, I find myself  cooking a bit more often. Ok, so I probably cooked 80% of the time pre-baby and now it’s more like 100% of the time. It’s ok. I’m interested in cooking for many of the same reasons I’m interested in brewing. I don’t much care for following strict recipes though, which is where I differ a bit with regard to brewing. Recently I put together some quesadillas and paired them with local brewery Flat Earth’s Northwest Passage IPA. A very citrusy, hoppy IPA that cuts through the fat and complements the subtle spice of some homemade quesadillas. Please disregard the chip crumbs in the photo. We needed to finish off the bag!

I made some dark chocolate brownies recently, dropped some cookies ‘n’ creme ice cream on top and paired it with Brooklyn Brewery’s Black Chocolate Stout I picked up at the MGM down in Eagan just off Pilot Knob Road. The owner or manager or whoever the guy was who seemed to be running the joint seemed really cool and very into stouts. I can tell he was rationing out the Black Chocolate Stout slowly, as he talked to me specifically at the register about stouts he liked and there was only one 4-pack in the fridge. I bet he brought one more 4-pack out from the back and put it in the fridge not long after I left. That’s how a lot of these guys do things when they don’t want certain inventory to move too fast. Anyway, the last time I had Black Chocolate Stout was at the end of the Brooklyn Brewery beer dinner hosted by Mr. Oliver himself that I attended last fall. I remember it having a much stronger chocolate flavor, but maybe that’s because I was pretty toasted by the time we got around to this beer. Still, it paired similar to how coffee would pair with dessert. Not sure I’d bother doing this specific pairing again with the other three bottles I have in the cellar, but tasty none the less.

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