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Suggestions on pairings for my beer dinner?

I'm planning a beer dinner for sometime in August. I've already decided on the 4 courses that I'm doing, but I only have beers paired for 2 of those courses so far. The food is all Italian themed, but the beers can be anything. Any suggestions?

1st Course: Shrimp and Ricotta Ravioli with roasted garlic pesto cream / No beer decided on yet
2nd Course: Classic Antipasto / Bell's Two Hearted Ale (IPA)
3rd Course: Stracotto di Manzo (Italian Pot Roast) with Polenta / No beer decided on yet
4th Course: White Chocolate Tiramisu / Chocolate Stout (nothing specific yet)

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  1. 3rd course I'd suggest either Rodenbach or an English brown ale.

    1st course I'd suggest a witbier like Avery White Rascal or Unibroue Blanche De Chambly.

    1. 3rd course- well...if you really don't want to go with a Brunello di Montalcino ;) (rich earthiness, hints of cherries and a good touch of acidity), which would kick all sorts of butt, then the next best thing the beer world has to offer would probably either be that Rodenbach or maybe even a Three Philosophers (a quad blended with cherry lambic), which is the first thing that came to my mind.

      It sounds really interesting- I hope you have a great time.

      8 Replies
      1. re: TongoRad

        I'd do the Three Philosophers with a dessert, but not the tiramisou.

        Here are my suggestions:

        1st course: I would go for a Belgian style to complement the herbacious elements. Duvel would work or for a domestic, Allagash Summer.

        3rd course: I like roasted malt flavors to go with the roasted meat. And a bit of hops to go with the Italian. How about a Dogfish Head Indian Brown.

        I think you are going to have trouble pairing the White Chocolate Tiramisou with a stout, unless you use a milk stout. Even then, I have my doubts. I hesitate to recommend a weizenbock but the Aventinus Eisbock might work.

        1. re: brentk

          I guess it comes down to how the pot roast is cooked. I usually do my braises like that with a bunch of carrots, onions and tomatoes in the pot, which contribute a certain sweetness, especially once it is all run through the food mill to make the sauce. Residual sugars usually go quite well in those circumstances.

          1. re: brentk

            The thing about tiramisu is it has espresso in it. Initially I was going to suggest he consider Lindemans Framboise for the white chocolate, but espresso is such a strong flavor that I think a stout could work OK, provided it's got enough sweetness to it. A milk stout would actually be an awesome match. Left Hand makes a good one.

            1. re: Josh

              The Duck-Rabbit Milk Stout might be nice, as well.

              1. re: brentk

                I have some other suggestions for the final pairing. If you are in Michigan (with Bells, I was unsure), I would suggest Atwater Block Vanilla Java Porter. also, i think a doppelbock is a great choice for that kind of dessert. a lot of chocolate malt. if i were you, I would head in a porter direction. With that, there is the chocolate, caramel, and coffee malts without the heaviness of a stout.

                1. re: daves_32

                  For the pot roast I think an Ayinger Celebrator Dopplebock would go very well. The body is relatively light which would cut through meat, but the rich caramel and earthy flavours would really compliment roasted meat.

                  As to the First course, you can also do a nice snappy Pilsener. Not only would the dryness bring out the sweetness in the shrimp, but this makes a great start to a beer evening as you increase the complexity as you go on.

              2. re: Josh

                Find a coffee porter for the tiramisu.
                Or, (as I just said in the beer and cheese thread. if you can afford it, Utopias

              3. re: brentk

                Great choices on the food / beer pairings! Love them all. If you can find some Cave-Aged Hennepin, it might be better than the Duvel.

            2. I'd go with a nice sour lambic for the first course, to offset the cream sauce, keep your palate refreshed. Maybe a nice malty altbier for the third, but as Tongorad says it depends on how the roast is cooked.

              1. for the Roast you might consider Stones smoked Porter. A hearty beer foe a hardy meal.

                1. 1 i'd go with something with a decent amount of carbonation to help cut the sauce. don't want anything too hoppy, which could throw off your palate for the rest of the meal. instinctively, i'd lean towards a good german pils.
                  2 if your antipasto includes cured meats, i'd be inclined to go with something fairly acidic, like a flemish sour brown/red. if you can get it, i think panil bariquee would be perfect. or rodenbach grand cru. the acidity helps balance the salty nature of cured meats.
                  3. toughest match of the bunch. but depending upon what you braise it in, you could go belgian (say a chimay bleu or a unibroue trois pistoles), although those are both a little sweet and might not go with italian herbs. a schwartzbier (kostritzer's the easiest to find, and is pretty good) might be OK too.
                  4. brooklyn black chocolate stout (which doesn't actually have any chocolate) could be good, in small glasses. to be cheeky, you could even serve it in espresso cups. but one thing -- a chocolate stout might tend to overwhelm the white chocolate, which can be a delicate kind of flavour.

                  1. Thanks for the great suggestions! I went ahead and picked up some Left Hand Milk Stout for dessert. I tried a bottle and I think this will go very well. So that just leaves the 1st and 3rd courses that I need to stock up on beer for. Based on your suggestions I'm leaning towards a brown ale for 3rd and a pilsener for 1st.

                    Although I love their IPAs, I'm not much of a fan of Dogfish Head's brown ale. Any other suggestions on a good brown ale? I like Brooklyn's pretty well, but would be interested in trying something different.

                    As for Pilseners, I could go with Peroni and actually have an Italian beer to pair up, but I'm sure there are some better ones out there. Any suggestions on this?

                    Thanks again! :)

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: SenorSuarez

                      Not sure if you're wanting to stick with domestic or not. If not, then Samuel Smith's Nut Brown is a textbook example. That's a classic English brown ale, and is delicious with roasted beef dishes. It also should be easy to find. It's much more mellow than Dogfish Head's Indian Brown.

                      For pilsner, one of the best around IMO is Victory's Prima Pils. It's got great malt character, perfectly balanced with the hops. For my money, this is one of the best beers being made in the US. However I would suggest at least sampling a witbier. Based on your description of the first course, I think witbier is a better pairing than pilsner.

                      1. re: Josh

                        I second the Prima Pils. One of the best pilsners out there.

                        If you are seeking an American Brown and find the Dogfish Head too hoppy, you might try the Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar.

                        1. re: brentk

                          I third the Prima. That is what I had in mind when I recommended the Pils.

                          As to the Brown, I love Brooklyn. Maybe instead of a Brown you do an Alt. Uerige Altbier or Schwerlma (sp?) both make good ones that I think would go well and are a bit more out of the ordinary than a brown ale.

                      2. re: SenorSuarez

                        For browns, why not even try a Newcastle? You'll need something a bit netural and safe for those that may not be used to all the different beers. Just a suggestion.

                        I'm at a loss for Italian beer. Sorry!

                        1. re: SenorSuarez

                          The Prima is very good (and available in cans, which is sorta cool) but I recently tried a few Belgian pilsners that have gone through a secondary champagne-carbonation process. Champagne makes a great aperitif and this might take your beer dinner in that same direction with a twist.

                          1. re: joypirate

                            "The Prima is very good (and available in cans...)"

                            It is? Oh, I know it's very good (it's on my regular rotation of pilsners) but I didn't know Victory was canning their beers- we're not getting them yet in NJ that I've seen.

                            Unless you're thinking of a different beer. Sly Fox Pikeland Pils, perhaps, or a European pilsner?

                            1. re: JessKidden

                              oh, you're right, i was thinking of the Pikeland. That's also a pretty goood pils, not as good as Prima though.

                        2. I'd lean toward lager for the first course- think you need something crisp against the cream sauce and not be overwhelmed by the garlic. I love Prima Pils, but I'm hesitant (actually for all of your courses) to suggest something too hoppy. Maybe an Ayinger Jahrhundert or something more malty. Maybe even an O'fest, since at least the Spaten is available year round. Duvel or La Fin Du Monde would also be in the right ballpark (not to mention that the 750's are a good value).

                          And I just don't know about the Bell's. I love their beer, especially Two Hearted, when I can manage to get some. But you don't want everyone blowing their palates w/ hops and cured meats before you get to the main course. I like the Rodenbach Grand Cru suggestion, though that might lean too far toward sour.

                          If you want Italian and malty for the pot roast, how about Moretti La Rossa? It's going to be a little lighter than Celebrator. For more wine-like ideas, there's lots of Belgian dubbels out there. I've always heard Ommegang described as "burgundian," and that fruitiness/complexity might go well.

                          Stout would be great for the dessert. You could also do mind-blowing like a 10-year-old JW Lee's Harvest Ale (actually available on the shelf in ATL), 10+ would be even better. Or another English barleywine like Thomas Hardy's. Or some sort of Belgian strong ale, like Chimay blue.

                          Hope this isn't coming after the fact, but it was fun to think about anyway.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: ted

                            That JW Lees is one of the best beers I've ever had. I cleaned out the supply I found in my area.

                            1. re: Josh

                              We did a tasting in BJCP review class this spring. I forget which years exactly, but one that was almost 10 years old still tasted like it could benefit from more time in the bottle. It was still a bit sweet. Fabulous, complex stuff.