Review Date 1/8/2009
There are few
people that know me who are unfamiliar with my undying thirst for beer. That
being the case, many will often ask me about pairing food and beer. The
question is a natural one: after all, fine wine is frequently paired with
good food, so why not beer? Why not, indeed. Beer, like wine, may be enjoyed
in its own right or paired with food to equally good effect. With beer,
though, I think the beauty is more in the eye of the beholder: if you drink
a certain beer with a certain dish, and you think they go well together,
then they do. There's no need to fear any sort of reproach one might receive
for making a bad wine and food pairing, at least not from me, anyway.
Still, I think some beers are naturals to be enjoyed with a meal, and for my part I often enjoy a light, spicy Saison with a humble repast. Saison is a French word for "season", and refers to the fact that beers of the style are generally brewed in the fall and "seasoned" until summer. They are also "seasoned" with spices and are light and very drinkable, both of which make them such perfect candidates for the table. The style is common in parts of Belgium and France, and has garnered interest in the United States among microbrewers looking for something new and different to offer their customers.
If you've never tried a saison, you could do much worse than Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Saison Style Ale. While not a classic example of the style (certainly no Saison Dupont), this is still a wonderfully refreshing, gently spicy treat that's relatively easy to find and won't put a major dent in your wallet.
Lagunitas Sonoma Farmhouse Saison pours to a bright golden color with a densely packed head of tiny bubbles and a perfumey, peppery spice nose. The beer is well carbonated, and a steady cascade of bubbles rises from top to bottom of my glass. The malt body is soft and gently biscuity, with light notes of fruit (perhaps pear and banana) subtle spicing of pepper, lemony citrus, and a dash of coriander.
There's a gentle hop bitterness in the finish, just enough to balance and refresh, and the spices help to dry as well. My one concern here is that the spicing might be a little too light, but overall the beer is quenching and very refreshing. At just over 5% alcohol by volume this is not a strong brew, either, so you could easily drink an entire 22 ounce bottle with your meal without too much worry. And at $3.49 a bottle, you won't have to worry about your wallet, either.
So now the question you have to be wondering: what did I pair this with? A brimming plate of salty Beef with Broccoli, braised wings in a pungent garlic sauce, and fragrant brown rice. The lightly refreshing but spicy beer proved a perfect match for the even spicier cuisine, washing it down but also accenting it with its own flair.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.