An Irish four-pack

Author: John Nagy ’00M.A.


“He was a wise man who invented beer.” High praise, coming from the likes of Plato. The drink is as old as civilization, and among its qualities, beer folk say, is the fact that the right one can go with just about any food. Domers in the craft brewing industry hereby make their “case.”

Exhibit A: Wildeman Farmhouse IPA
Genius behind it: Flying Dog Brewery, Frederick, Maryland
Irish connection: Ben Savage ’99, VP of brand development, and Holly Manthei ’00, director of noise
Description: “A beast of a Farmhouse IPA [India Pale Ale] with citrus, spice, earthy funk and extreme hop bitterness.”
Recommended food pairing: “This complex Farmhouse IPA is best paired with equally complex foods that can stand up to the monster,” says Savage. “Rich, buttery cheeses, pungent and earthy truffle flavors, or bold, spicy cuisines like Szechuan and Thai go beautifully with Wildeman. And, like most beasts, it can be tamed with rich, dark chocolate, preferably with citrus or chili notes.”

Exhibit B: Gaelic Ale
Genius behind it: Highland Brewing Company, Asheville, North Carolina
Irish connection: Oscar Wong ’63, ’65M.S., founder, owner, president, chief peddler, schmoozing and cleanup guy
Description: “A deep, amber-colored American ale . . . exceptionally balanced between malty sweetness and delicate hop bitterness.”
Recommended food pairing: Malt-glazed pork belly with mini pork ravioli and Gaelic-braised kimchi. Says Wong, “Our Gaelic Ale has been paired with dishes like cheddar soup and braised beef ribs that complement the flavors. It also contrasts well with spicy Jamaican jerk pork, seared scallops and mild-vinaigrette seafood salads. The selected pairing is more of a complement of tastes — even with the full-flavored kimchi.”

Exhibit C: Das Wunderkind! Sour Saison
Genius behind it: Jester King Craft Brewery, Austin, Texas
Irish connection: Jeff Stuffings ’02, owner, brewer
Description: “Traditional, sour, low-gravity saison aged in oak wine barrels with naturally occurring wild yeast and bacteria from the Texas Hill Country.”
Recommended food pairing: Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer, offers substantial salads, chicken and richer seafood dishes as the way to go with saisons, but Stuffings isn’t ready to make a pronouncement. “We take food and beer pairings seriously, so we don’t want to just throw out some conjecture. We also believe that food pairing recommendations should include a recipe, since a particular dish may have a range of flavor profiles.” Well said, Jeff, and this magazine is ready when you are.

Exhibit D: Double Bag Strong Ale
Genius behind it: Long Trail Brewing Company, Bridgewater Corners, Vermont
Irish connection: Brian Walsh ’77, president and CEO
Description: This malty, full-bodied double-alt was first offered only in Long Trail’s taproom as a special treat to visitors.
Recommended food pairing: Tracing its inspiration to the strong ales and altbiers of Düsseldorf, Germany, Double Bag pairs well with most German foods, such as grilled or smoked meats, roast pork and sausages, or with salmon.