Writing on this subject was a bit of a struggle at first. My beer “cellar” is whatever room I can find in the refrigerator and right now, only two beers are being aged. Many nights, my girlfriend Linda and I will select something like Deschutes Brewing’s Hop Henge IPA or Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout before curling up on the couch to watch TV for the remainder of the evening, usually watching one of those homicide investigation shows like Forensic Files or The First 48. We don’t think too hard about what to have, just peering into the fridge and picking one that just seems right for the mood we’re in. So it didn’t seem I could really contribute much to a session topic about the decision making process of choosing beer for special occasions.
But a funny thing happened on the way to this month’s Session. I decided to give married life one more shot. I mean after all, Linda’s smart, attractive, good for my kids, and my life started turning around after I met her four years ago. She doesn’t complain about all my sweaty running clothes, and she thought going to the Celebrator Beer Festival was a great way to spend Valentine’s Day. (I did make her dinner the next evening, sort of as an insurance policy.) If I screw this one up, just put me in the “Shouldn’t Get Married” category for good.
We recently invited some friends over for dinner who brought Champagne to celebrate the engagement, and so it seemed right to bring out the Malheur Dark Brut from the fridge. It’s a dark Belgian Ale made with the same technique as Champagne, where the bottle is rotated over time so the active yeast is at top end of the bottle, and then the yeast plug is frozen and removed. Our guests really appreciated how the toasty yeastiness melded with the dark, complex roasted malts, the tingly carbonation keeping it all light and airy. Of course, a great way to show people how well important occasions can be celebrated with beer is to let them experience this for themselves.
If you came looking for a detailed calculus about how beers are paired to food and the moment, I’m afraid you came to the wrong place. But the best thing about being with good friends and family is that you don’t have to think very hard about things, and it all just flows.