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Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Bite-Size: Stout. Porter. Burger.

Here’s a favourite of mine. A quick, bite-sized combination that might get you thinking next time you’re in the kitchen. I love a burger, from the hastily grabbed Big Mac that’s eaten on the train home, to the pseudo-sophisticated diner experience at places like Draft House and Byron; I love ‘em. They strip away pretence and deliver meat, veg and sauce all in an edible packaging that you can hold in your hands. What more could you ask for?

Now, many will say that when you’re eating a burger you need to be drinking an American IPA. And, there’s no doubting that that is indeed a great combination. But for me there’s something else that works equally well. You need to sear that burger hard and fast, you need to get it onto a smoking hot griddle and you need to force some black onto the outside. By all means turn the heat down and cook it through afterwards, but that flame-grilling or heavy-searing is what makes all the difference. It’s that colour that can build a bridge to the beer in your glass; the smoky, burnt, near-acrid flavour you impart on the meat can be mirrored by the flavour that heavily kilned special malts bring to beer styles like porter and stout. I’m talking chocolate malt, roast barley, black and brown malt. And once that bridge has been built and crossed, you’re in a land where natives include caramel and toffee, to compliment the natural sweetness of good meat, and spiky bitterness that will freshen and liven your palate.

Go with loads of fresh mayonnaise and try something slightly wild and sour like Harveys Porter, the acidity serving as a foil for the oiliness in the food. Or flip it around and try a flabby but delicious oatmeal stout like Sam Smiths alongside a burger piled high with slices of zingy gherkin*. And if you really can’t get past that IPA, then why not try a hoppy stout like Sierra Nevada or Kernel 1890 with curry-powder-spiked tomato ketchup; the beer beckoning that spice over, one finger raised and a shout of “wot you lookin at!”.

Food and beer pairings will always divide opinion, what’s fun is to take a basic, bite-sized concept and play around with it until you strike gold.

* Ok, so that one's a little more out there.


Carmen said...

Hi! I like beer too much!...I bought a very good beers in a site www.dispensas.it ,there are sardinian beers called Barley beer .You can choose between eigth flavours and they dispatch them all over the world! Try them! bye bye

Leigh said...

I'm with you mate - in fact I'm planning a burger extravaganza in the summer. For me , Burgers are up there with Pies as the ultimate snackage. And I like the Stout/Porter idea - I do naturally lean towards softer pales or ambers when it comes to burgers, so I'll give this a try!

Mark Dredge said...

YUM! I like dark beers with burgers but then I like most beers with a burger! Did you make the burgers yourself? If so did you use beer in the burger mix? I've seen recipes for it and that might give and extra bridge of flavour between the two.

Mark said...

I think you can extend it to any BBQ'd or griddled red meat. I just like the idea of the bridge between charred meat and burnt/roast grain.

I did make them, yep. The idea of adding beef to the mince is a cool one. I think you'd need to cut back on the condiments, salad and seasoning etc ... the beer might get lost otherwise.