Beer and Food – Wild Dubbel
Welcome back to the delicious world of beer and food. As we mentioned in last weeks article, continuing on the with our theme of the month, this week we are featuring OAK at fourteenth and the New Belgium Brewing Lips of Faith Wild 2 Dubbel.
OAK at fourteenth falls perfectly in line with Alewise’s inspiration for the month, as their credo states, “Melding elements of Colorado’s rustic backdrop with Boulder’s hip and contemporary dining scene, OAK at fourteenth is a stylish neighborhood restaurant featuring local and seasonal New American Cuisine in a friendly and professional atmosphere.”
The flavors of this week’s pairing work in harmony like blades of a fan. Each blade is necessary for balance. If any single blade were isolated, the desired effect of the fan would not be accomplished. The same is true for both the beer and salad this week.
In The Basics, we mentioned Belgium as the Mecca of beer. This week is an examination of a Belgian Dubbel, a style that will showcase a great example of why Belgium has gained that title, and why it is so paramount in the pairing world.
Traditionally, Belgian Dubbels including the benchmark example Chimay Rouge, are malt-forward, displaying toasted bread to dark Carmel notes, which can give rise to flavors of dark fruit and hints of cocoa. These ales exhibit a restrained hop profile, while finishing moderately dry with prevalent spicy/fruity esters from the unique Belgian yeast.
Coming out of the light Kolsch pairing, the Wild 2 Dubbel is a gradual progression that introduces some wild fermentation characteristics. Despite the subtle Brettanomyces character in this Dubbel, the aggressive nature of Brett fermentation imparts a dry finish. The addition of Schisandra berries plays an interesting role in complimenting the Brett by adding a mild tart profile, usually akin to sour ales, without using bacteria/microbes.
In situations where the Wild 2 Dubbel is not available, it would be best to look for a Belgian Dubbel with a drier finish and a more spice forward profile to match the cinnamon and pepper imparted from the addition of the Schisandra berries.
Walking into Oak at fourteenth, the smell from the wood-fire grill fills the air. We are greeted by Executive Sous Chef Bill Espiricueta, who happily steps up to the bar top, to start preparing the elements for the dish. He starts with his ingredients all in place (mise en place) and begins by frying the bacon, to get it crispy for texture, and to render some of the fat for the dish.
While the bacon is in the pan, the cabbage gets julienned (napa) and shaved in the mandolin (red) and the dates are seeded and roughly chopped. Finally, the dressing which consists of Dijon, mustard seed, honey, and red wine vinegar gets emulsified with a little Extra-virgin Olive Oil.
If replicating at home “You want to use a room temperature plate, because if you use a cold plate, the fat from the bacon can congeal”, Bill stated. When plating, the addition of arugala and cracked black pepper make for nuances that add for some additional resonance.
These elements are ideal companions, because while neither is delicate, they both finish fresh and light. They also follow the same progression as the beer and the salad, starting sweet and transcending into a dry, slightly peppery finish, bartender, Stanley Frank mentioned “They’re like doppelgangers from different worlds”. A showcase of how taking traditional flavors and adding a contemporary spin can be done to perfection.
There is a wonderful connection between the sweetness of the dates with the caramelly, raisiny profile of the malt which resonates with the honey in the dressing as well. The sugars are balanced beautifully by the drying finish imparted by the brett, the bittering quality from the cabbage, the pepper of the arugala and the Schisandra berries, and the savory saltiness of the bacon.
While both the salad and the beer make for great selections by themselves, after enjoying this pairing, it is unimaginable to be able to show them in a better light than paired together.
The unique aspects of the beer made things a little tricky for pairing with our cheese, as a traditional pairing wouldn’t compliment the adjuncts at play in the beer and there for required a more thoughtful approach. Nonetheless, we were determined to find a winner, and the ‘cream that rose to the top’ was the Beecher’s Flagship Truckle, from Beecher’s Handmade Cheese in Seattle, WA.
The cheese and the beer resonate wonderfully with mellow notes of earthy, mushroom flavors in the cheese and the ‘wild’ aspects of the beer playing off each other very well, in addition to the similar nutty quality in the malt base and the cheese resonating. While the initial sweetness of the beer is washed away by slight pepper and cinnamon from the berries melding with the salt in the cheese for a great savory umami feel.
Thank you for checking back with us this week and for your continued support. We hope this continues to inspire everyone to keep finding new and fun pairings. We will be back next week with an American classic, West-Coast IPA, when we visit Riffs Urban Fare.
Alewise is a Ciceone and Beer Education Co-op founded by Eric Linder and David Bird in Boulder, CO. Our goal is to strengthen the beer community by fueling the knowledge and passion of those involved or interested in joining it by making things more accessible and fun. You can find Eric serving or bartending at Frasca Food & Wine in Boulder, and David in the taproom at Avery Brewing Co. in Boulder.