On the night of the final TAG/Beer Buzz podcast, Ashton Lewis, Brett Johnston, and I spoke about music at length. As we discussed music and beer, I thought it could be a fun experiment to try and combine music, food, and beer together.
As the podcast wound down and this site spun up, I emailed Ashton and asked him to pair some music with some beer, and then throw in some ideas for food, as well.
Although he found it challenging, Ashton came up with some great combinations. After each one, he offers what he calls his “liner notes” for the combination.
This is hard! I used the MBAA [Master Brewer’s Association of the Americas] 4-flavor groups as a guide. The important thing is to spend some time cooking and listening to these albums prior to eating! I would suggest a beer during cooking and with dinner. Sometimes drinking the same beer back-to-back is fun and informative.
MBAA Flavor Group: Hop Forward Beer
Beer Style Selected: Pilsner
Album: Going Somewhere by Colin Hay
Menu: Grilled shrimp, spring salad with fresh mangoes and basil, lime vinaigrette dressing and fresh sourdough baguette
Liner Notes: Summer is upon us and Pilsner is a great beer style for warm weather. Pilsner also pairs very well with seafood and foods with an herbal flare that complement the herbal hop notes found in classic Pilsners. The music choice gives a nod to “shrimp on the barbie” and provides a great mellow backdrop to sipping cold Pilsner while grilling and eating on a hot summer day in the Ozarks.
MBAA Flavor Group: Malt Forward Beer
Beer Style Selected: Brown Ale
Album: Couldn’t Stand the Weather – Legacy Edition by Stevie Ray Vaughan
Menu: Mixed BBQ with spicy, red sauce, potato salad with red onion and caraway seeds, and roasted Brussels sprouts
Liner Notes: Brown ales feature aromas and flavors from the variety of roasted malts used to give this style color and flavor. Barbecued meats share some of these same flavors and this sort of pairing is called complementary because the beer and food selection share common flavors. Malt-forward beers also pair well with rich and savory foods, so the pairing of brown ale with the menu suggested below is really a great fit. Add the sounds of arguably one of the best blues guitarist ever to take the stage and the key parts of a great evening are all assembled!
MBAA Flavor Group: Fermentation Driven Beer
Beer Style Selected: Saison
Album: Beautiful Vision by Van Morrison
Menu: Mussels in white wine, garlic and butter with fresh parsley and toasted bread points … a delicious dish, while admittedly nutritionally unbalanced
Liner Notes: The dry spicy notes of a great Saison paired with the briny goodness of steamed mussels and the sweet and nutty aromas of toasted, rustic bread make for a wonderfully satisfying dinner when less is more. Add in the timeless sounds of Van the Man and dinner is served!
MBAA Flavor Group: Flavor Driven Beer
Beer Style Selected: Rauchbier
Album: Live on the Double Planet by Michael Hedges
Menu: Thinly sliced smoked meats, selection of sharp, bloomy rind and stinky cheeses, pickled vegetables and crunchy crackers
Liner Notes: Some foods are best enjoyed without further adjustment; excellent smoked meats, cheeses, pickled vegetables and simple crackers certainly fit this bill. And one of the best beer styles to pair with this sort of old-world plate is Rauchbier, a beer style often under-appreciated because of its bold, assertive aroma and flavor. The musical pair to this dish is unknown to many and, like Rauchbier, the sounds of Michael Hedges are truly spectacular and like the foods included in this pairing his sound needed no adjustment. Hedges was an amazing acoustic guitar player who died to young at the age of 43 in 1997.
As you can see, Ashton is almost as passionate about his music as he is about beer. It might seem a bit abstract, but putting together an evening around a beer is really no different than planning an evening around a meal.
Do you have a recommended combination for Music for Beer Lovers? We’d love to hear about it in the comments or through our Contact Us form.