I think pairing beer with dessert is often over looked so, I am putting a lot of effort into finding unique flavor combinations that will surprise the uninitiated. I also want to tell everyone what doesn’t work, sometimes that is more beneficial.
Last night I cracked open The Bruery’s 9 Ladies Dancing in hopes of finding a homerun beer pairing with vanilla ice cream. The beer itself is choc full of tiramisu flavors including, cacao nibs, vanilla and coffee. Whenever a beer has strong flavors I try to find a pairing with a food item that isn’t overly complex. The goal for me is to let the beer do the heavy lifting and supporting it with a simplistic food item. Last night I used a vanilla ice cream sandwich.
The base beer was a Belgian Dark Strong Ale (think Chimay Blue), so you can expect a high alcohol by volume (11.3%). Alcohol has a cutting effect with sweet, rich flavors. Often, I am looking for a highly carbonated beer to scrub the palate between bites. In this case, the carbonation dissipated after about a minute, so it was helpful that the beer packed a high ABV punch to take over the role of palate reset.
The Tiramisu flavors were present but not overly aggressive. This is why I didn’t try to pair this beer with a food item that has aggressive flavors or the subtle nuances of this beer would be lost. Many people would read the label of the beer and think that since it has tiramisu flavors, it would pair well with a tiramisu dish. I’m against that line of thought because the more delicate flavors of the beer would not be noticeable after the first bite of dessert.
I wouldn’t call this pairing a homerun but it was highly enjoyable. I combined the ice cream and the beer together in one mouthful which highlighted the cutting power of the 11.3% ABV. It was almost as if the vanilla flavors took a back seat and let the chocolate and coffee flavors duke it out on the palate. I would recommend either creamy vanilla ice cream or a coffee flavored ice cream dish.
All in all, I enjoyed the combination of this beer with simple ice cream. If anyone has any beer pairing questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.
Pro Tip: I take my dark beers out of the fridge and let them warm up for 30 mins before I pour it into a glass. This is important to do because cold beer will hide the deep flavors. I also would recommend using a Belgian Tulip glass. Since I am moving soon, my proper glassware is stuck safely in a box somewhere. The next best thing I had was my trusty English Nonic Imperial Pint glass.