The Beer: Baxter Brewing Company’s Tarnation California-Style Lager
The Food: Top’s Chicken Flavored Ramen Noodles w/Sriracha hot sauce, sliced pepper, sliced deli ham, sliced button mushrooms, and scallions
The ramen is a nice simple variant of the quick ramen packages. All you need to do is add in all the ingredients but the scallions as the water warms to a boil. The scallions and the flavor packet go in when you take the noodles off the heat, and more sriracha can also be added at this time, depending on how spicy you want the dish to be. I went for a milder spice, though it was still rather intense by the end. See my review of the beer for a rundown of the flavors to expect. Suffice to say, the beer is mild, slightly sweet, but relatively inoffensive.
On its own, the ramen tastes of rich umami noodles with a nice, slight grainy flavor. The finish releases a subtle chili spice that will definitely be building as I eat the dish. The vegetables add a nice crunch and subtle flavoring to the dish as a whole, and the ham adds a meaty richness to bites. With the food, much of the softer flavors of the noodles are lost, leaving me with a chili spice that builds with the hop bitters, and just a splash of sweet grains as the vegetal-sweet flavors of the beer shine through and intensify, allowing for an interesting sip. The ham does stand up to the beer a bit more, allowing for its fattiness to sop up some of the more offensive vegetal flavors in the beer. I would say as a whole, however, the pairing was not a success. I’m surprised that the beer ate up much of the flavor in the ramen. I was hoping with a mellow beer and food pairing that they would meld nicely. My ultimate hop was that the hop bitters of the beer would bring forward the spice, which they definitely did, but also that the bready malt would be more present with the pairing, which I really did not seem to get. Oh well, another pairing, another failure, but at least I learned. Cheers.