(Artichokes, Cauliflower, Broccoli, Leeks, Bell Peppers, Lemon, Green Butter Lettuce)
Beer: White Ale (4.5%)
Style: Belgian Witbier
Serving: Tulip 45°-50°
General description and suggestion: Witbiers are one of the oldest beer styles in Europe, nearly 500 years old. This style would have became another casualty of the lite pale lager invasion if not for the efforts of Pierre Celis who brought the beer style back from the brink with the popular Hoegaarden. Since then witbiers have become popular in the US with many brewpubs and microbreweries because they are a pale lager substitute in brewpubs that many “Budmilloors” drinkers can tolerate.
Witbiers should pour a pale straw color and depending on how long it has been in the bottle or how it is poured it may be quite cloudy. A common misconception is that the yeast causes this cloudiness and while there is some yeast in suspension the majority of the cloudiness is caused by wheat starch. These will also pour with a thick, frothy head.
Witbiers are a medium-light bodied beer with light sweetness – reminds me of a delicate honey. The beer’s sweetness is usually balanced by spices (generally coriander but others may be used), dried bitter orange peal as well as earthy spicy flavors produced by the yeast and hops. Did you notice the bitter orange peal? Orange-citrus flavoring has already been added to the beer, with careful consideration to the beer’s balance I might add, so there is no reason for that orange or lemon wedge on the rim of your glass. Unfortunately these wedges have become standard accompaniments for witbiers thanks to advertising campaigns by Shocktop and Blue Moon. In fact, if you squeeze that citrus wedge into your beer it not only knocks the beer out of balance but it also kills that beautiful head. So be sure to order your next witbier, “NFO” or “NFL” (No “effing” Orange or Lemon)!
These light and refreshing beers can also be a tad tart which adds another layer of complexity but that also helps these beers pair well with delicate foods such as salads, poultry and fish. The trick is to match a specific Witbier profile to your specific dish so you may have to try a few -tough research I know- to find the perfect match. Today is a two-fer because this is a nice beer to pair with several different courses. Telegraph’s White Ale is light enough –alcohol and body- to be enjoyed with little worry of feeling bloated or intoxicated.
Specific description and suggestion: A green butter lettuce salad with Craisins and a blue cheese crumble toped with a balsamic vinaigrette – see recipe below. This is a natural pairing for a Witbier because it’s light flavors don’t overpower any of the salad ingredients. Also, the slight tartness in this beer compliments the Craisins (tart and sweet) as well as the balsamic vinaigrette. A hint of earthy spice from the yeast and hops compliment the lettuce but they also tie all the sweet and tart flavors together. The light body and cleansing action of the carbonation help refresh your palate before it can become overloaded with blue cheese.
Specific description and suggestion: Stuffed Artichokes
You can find the recipe I referenced at AllRecipes.com or use my “lighter” vegetarian recipe below. The spices in Telegraph’s White Ale paired well with the light spicing in the veggie sausage and sautéed veggies. The light body and effervescence of this beer helped cleanse the palate of the savory sautéed veggies and sausage. The lemon drizzle – which isn’t optional in my opinion- in this pairing as it contrasts the honey-like sweetness and complements the subtle tartness found in this beer.
Balsamic Vinaigrette for Butter Lettuce Salad
Makes 1 cup – mix all ingredients
¼ cup olive oil
¾ cup balsamic vinegar
2 to 3 tablespoons (to taste) Pub Beer Pretzel Mustard Dip
(Found at Somis Nut House)
2 medium artichokes
2 tablespoons minced fresh basil
2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
1 garlic clove, minced
1 medium leek, minced
1 broccoli, steamed and minced
1 cauliflower, steamed and minced
1 green bell pepper, minced
1 pound veggie sausage substitute (found at most stores)
Parmesan to top
Lemon Juice – optional
Directions: Rinse artichokes well; trim stem. Cut 1 in. off the top. Snip the tip of each leaf with a kitchen shears. Brush cut edges with lemon juice. Spread artichoke open. Using a small knife, carefully cut around center choke (from the bottom). Scoop out and discard the fuzzy center. In a saucepan, place artichokes in a steam basket over 1 in. of boiling water. Cover; steam for 20-25 minutes or until crisp-tender. Invert on a paper towel to drain.
Sauté the garlic, leek and bell pepper. In a bowl, combine the veggie sausage, minced pepper, basil, leek, broccoli, cauliflower, parsley and garlic. Make a large “sausage patty” out of the mix and heat thoroughly. Crumble “sausage” mixture and stuff the mixture into center of artichokes and between leaves. Place in an ungreased baking dish.
Sprinkle parmesan over the stuffed artichokes, cover and bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or until they are heated through and cheese is melted and golden brown.
Optional: Squeeze and drizzle some lemon juice to taste before serving.