In honour of Oktoberfest and our special Taste Beerfest, we had a special “beer” version of Sommelier on Call. Cory Cuff, Cielo Bar & Restaurant Manager from Four Seasons Hotel St. Louis answered all your beer pairing questions on our Facebook page. Check out the Q&A session below…and Prost!
Beer Pairing Q&A with Cory Cuff:
How come Guinness is the only beer my husband can drink without getting an upset tummy? -Vicki McAffee
CC: Hi Vicki McAffee. The type of yeast that is responsible for Guinness is called Brettanomyces. This yeast lends itself to a more neutral pH level. The same type of yeast causes the same flavors in lambics and beers known as ‘gueuze’ (a personal favorite of mine if you’re looking to try is Cuvée de René). They’re not normally involved in beer making, but are easier on the tummy if you can deal with the farmhouse funk (open a bottle and you’ll know what I’m talking about!)
Hi Cory, could you give a basic definition of what a sour beer is? And maybe some tips for novices on how to acquire that taste?-Matt Sorrell
CC: Hi Matt. A sour beer is any category of beer that is intentionally made tart by allowing ambient yeast to ferment the beer. A good way to start would be blended lambics such as Lindemans Framboise, and then lead into Flemish red ales and finally gueuze. Enjoy!
Do people really drink overly-hoppy-to-the-point-of-extreme-bitterness-IPAs? Because that seems to be the trend that a lot of breweries are approaching: How do we out-hop the next guy, much like 5 years back it was, how do we out-alcohol the next guy.-Jeff Ghi
CC: Hi Jeff. You’re right—it seems breweries these days really are striving to create the biggest, boldest, baddest beer on the planet—and I have to say I’m alright with that! I think the hop trend is here to stay until a new chance to “outdo the next guy” comes through. The next trend I’m predicting for breweries is “What barrel can I age this beer in?” Cheers.
Hi Cory! I looove Weissbier in the summer. What kind of nibbles would pair best?-Yvonne Yuen
CC: Hi Yvonne. Think light when pairing: fresh cheese, lightly poached (or raw) shellfish and, interestingly enough, eggs and Chinese takeout. Trust me on that last one!
During a dinner with senior management, is beer an acceptable choice or do I stick with wine?-Ryan Hickman
CC: That is an awesome question! My thought is that you should do what you want while being respectful. I’m a big proponent of individualism, so if you’re at dinner with an exec and you want to order a beer… have at it! Don’t forget that beer was historically regarded as the beverage of choice for the elites. I would advise being able to describe why you like a certain beer to even further distinguish yourself as an educated individual. Drink on, my friend.
My husband and I recently went to Belgium and were told that the “best beer in the world” was made there, the Trappist Westvleteren 12. In your opinion, would you consider this beer to be the best one worldwide? Or what would be your choice? And since we brought some home, what type of food would you have with it?-Grace Garcia de Villarreal
CC: Hi Grace! To the best of my knowledge there are only eight actual Trappist ales in the world and most of these are in Belgium. Now, when I say “actual” Trappist ales, I mean ales brewed under Trappist monk supervision or by the monks themselves. The income of the beer pays for their monastery and cost of living—thus, if they don’t make good beer they can’t pay for their cost of life! As far as the best beer in the world, that’s subjective, but I do love Trappist beers for their full body and incredibly complex history/taste—both are delicious. As far as food goes? Open the beer. Do you smell those toast and roasted notes? Go for very caramelized pork—the mouthfeel is similar.
What is your all-time favourite beer?-Joanna Ang
CC: Hi Joanna Ang. My all-time favorite beer is Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA—without a doubt in my mind! It’s so special because it’s everything in a beer: a bit of inherent sweetness, some good acid levels and a great, great, great finish. Everything in life is about the finish! Enjoy.
Would love a few recommendations on what type of beers pair well with mussels? HELP!!-Nyrie Toukmanian
CC: Hi Nyrie Toukmanian. When you think of mussels, what type of citrus typically goes with them? Most people put lemon with mussels. The high acid helps to bring out the sweetness of the mussel. The same is true with beer pairings. Look for a very crisp and fossilized flavor in lagers, pilsners specifically. This should hit the spot.
Don’t miss our archived Sommelier on Demand features either. Mark Sayre from Four Seasons Hotel Austin has some fantastic advice for everything from summer seafood and BBQ pairings to ideas for frozen pizza mini bagels. Dana Farner, Beverage Director at Beverly Wilshire in Beverly Hills (A Four Seasons Hotel) gives her recommendations for pairing wines with baked ziti, flank steak with spinach and feta and more.
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