The Beer: Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale
The Food: Leftover General Tso’s Chicken and Shrimp Lo Mein
Today I’m going to try and start a new series on the blog. These posts will be random, and completely dependent on what I have in my fridge. As a poor beer enthusiast, I realize that a perfect meal pairing cannot always be planned, and that sometimes you just want to put a beer with whatever you have laying around. To this end, the Practical Food Pairings will be a collection of just that, and will further experiment with the experimental pairings that might be found in any fridge at any time. To begin, I give you leftover Chinese food:
So I had some leftover General Tso’s Chicken and shrimp lo mein. I also had a bottle of the Shoal’s Pale Ale from Smuttynose, so I figured I’d see what they do together. On its own, the beer is a softly malty session ale with a crisp, bitter finish that will appease any hop head. The lo mein is smoothly grainy, slightly umami, and has a nice kick of fish at the finish. The chicken is slightly sweet, chewy with some umami flavors, and has a faint kick of heat on the finish. With the lo mein, the beer swallows up most of the noodle’s delicate flavors, leaving a healthy, clean taste of bitter pine while mellowing the beer’s sweet upfront taste. With the chicken, practically the opposite happens. The beer’s light flavors are sopped up by the richness of the meat and sauce, leaving just a sense of very light, bitter pine towards the finish. After they both leave the mouth, the spiciness does feel a bit stronger and more tingly than it did with just the chicken. Overall, the pairing isn’t the best. It’s been awhile since I had Shoals, and I was underestimating its hoppiness. If I were to pair it again, I would look for something with a more middling body and flavor and definite spice that could play around with the hops. With the Chinese food, I would say a more delicate and malty beer is needed. Perhaps a Vienna or Helles lager, or a gentle session saison. Leftovers are never as bold in flavor, so lighter beers tend to fair better with the pairings, in my mind.