An elegant interior of marble fireplaces, ceiling high, gilt-edged mirrors, crystal chandeliers and ornate furniture formed an unlikely backdrop for a beer and food matching dinner with a twist. This was no ordinary setting and no ordinary dinner! The Brewers Association, a not-for-proft trade body representing small and independent American craft brewers, was the guest of the US Ambassador to the French Republic (and Principality of Monaco) at her private residence in the heart of Paris to demonstrate the natural kinship between high quality American craft beer and fine French food and showcase the wonderful world of flavours.
The French take to beer
With around 1,200 breweries currently operating in France, the French are buying into the current global trend towards craft beer with relish. American craft brewers are widely credited with kick-starting the global craft beer revolution that we see today, so who better than them to demonstrate beer and food’s natural partnership at the dinner table. Indeed at the recent Planète Bière festival in Paris visitors queued patiently for a Masterclass tasting on charcuterie and American craft beer, sampling a range of different beer styles that perfectly complemented the varied flavour profiles of the meat products.
American beer in France
Meanwhile, back at the US Ambassador’s residence a sumptuous four course feast of flavours awaited assembled guests. The menu was devised and executed by Adam Dulye, Executive Chef of the Brewers Association and one of the world’s leading exponents of matching beer and food, with help from Edward Delling-Williams of Le Grand Bain, Paris and Dave Harrison of Au Passage, Paris. The tone of the evening was set with a delicate starter of carpaccio of smoked salt baked celeriac with malt vinegar dressing accompanied by a crisp and refreshing Seafarer Kölsch from Three Weavers Brewing Co (Inglewood, California). The subtle light malt backbone and lively carbonation interacted perfectly with the gentle smokiness of the celeriac and the hop character complimented the bitterness of the vegetable.
There are 6,300 small and independent craft brewers in America that have sprung up over the last 40 years and the next course was accompanied by one of the pioneers – Sierra Nevada (Chico, California) Tropical Torpedo with cured trout, raw thick cream and crackers. The tropical fruit hop forward notes of the beer harmonising with the aromatic trout made the pairing a true match made in heaven.
In addition to the vast flavour spectrum in beer it also performs a cleansing action in the mouth as the bitterness of the hops combined with the carbonation in the beer lifts fat from the palate and leaves it refreshed and ready for the next bite. IPA is the most popular beer style in the States and it’s easy to see why this big, bold beer style goes so well with food.
Moving on to the main course of braised rabbit, lentils and wild garlic with Port City (Alexandria, Virginia) Porter, the only dark and roasty beer of the night, and the rich, smooth, malty porter with chocolate and coffee notes perfectly offset the game flavour of the rabbit and earthiness of the lentils. “Wow” was the reaction of many guests as they savoured the perfect harmony of flavours.
Strong dark beers are traditionally associated with sweet, rich desserts. Not so with Chef Adam’s menu! He saved the lightest beer of the night until last and matched a white chocolate mousse and rhubarb with Maui (Kihei, Hawaii) Pineapple Mana Wheat. The light, effervescence of the beer scrubbed the palate clean and cut away the acidic notes of the rhubarb leaving the mouth refreshed and ready for the next adventure!
And what a culinary adventure it had been! As guests marvelled over the complementary nature of beer and food they were left in no doubt that beer has claimed its rightful place at the French dinner table.
By Lotte Peplow, Brewers Association in Europe spreading the word about American craft beer.