Yesterday I got to try out some of the beer pairing ideas I wrote about last week. Next Monday’s Social Capital Inc. beer pairing event at Mystic Brewery will start with their farmhouse ale. The tasting notes suggested this lighter style ale goes well with salads. We are doing appetizers for the event as opposed to a full meal, so my wheels got turning about something that would fit with the theme of the event and be more interesting that a basic salad. After tasting a sample of the ale, I thought perhaps the Shaved Raw Asparagus Salad with Parmesan Dressing might work.
This raw asparagus salad is presented in Food & Wine Magazine as an example of how one can pair a tricky ingredient–asparagus–with wine. The key is a generous amount of Parmesan cheese that provides a flavor bridge to the wines. I’ve now successfully paired it with a number of white wines, and it makes a fun starter for multi-course wine pairing dinners. (before I get further into the beer pairing, if you’re looking for wine pairing tips for asparagus, I covered that in this post).
Now, lets get to the beer pairing for the raw asparagus salad. The comparison to wine starts when opening the bottle of ale, as the Mystic ale comes in a large bottle with a cork that gets popped open in similar fashion to a bottle of champagne.
The lemon notes in the beer made me think of the lemon in the asparagus dressing, and I figured the cheese wouldn’t hurt the match either. Should I call the aromas of the beer its “nose” as I would with wine? Not sure, but I took a sniff and noted the freshness, and a citrus element, and the yeastiness. My first taste I noted the light hops and lemon element, and a subtle quality to the ale. Then I took a bite of the asparagus, followed by another sip of the beer.
The salad dressing seemed to enhance the lemon element of the beer. This would jive with the “pairings that complement each other” tip I mentioned last week. The pairing also illustrated the “strength with strength” concept, as both the dish and the beer are on the lighter side. Another great aspect of the pairing: you get that asparagus thing going on on your palate, the ale cleans it out nicely! All that chlorophyll that gives asparagus its dark green appearance can be a challenge for wine pairing, but the beer seemed to take care of it pretty well.
So we gave this ale pairing for raw asparagus salad a thumbs up, and will feature it at our June 22 SCI pairing event at Mystic Brewery. If you are catching this post in time, and are in the Boston area, you can grab your ticket here. And this is just one of the four pairings you can sample! Come join us to try it and learn more about the others.
Even when I start with someone else’s recipe, most things I make a few times I wind up adapting, and thus present here on Cooking Chat with my own tweaks. But this asparagus salad recipe is one I tend to stay true to the original Food & Wine recipe, so I’m just going to link you there to get the Shaved Raw Asparagus Salad with Parmesan Dressing if you want to try making it at home.