Sweet and Sour

With more and more beer pairings popping up, we can see a greater awareness with the public as to just how well beer pairs with food. Gone are the days when a pairing meant various varieties of wine paired with many of the same types of foods. Beer’s grain based nature, the herbal hop notes and fruitiness or spiciness of brewers yeast lends to almost infinite pairing possibilities. 

You can even think outside of the box of normal pairings. A favorite of mine is mixing sour beers with sweet desserts, such as cupcakes. Though sour is a bit of a catch all term thous, it typically refers to that of a half a dozen traditional beers from Belgium and Germany. 

The challenge with a pairing of the type is to find a way for the acidic nature of sour beers to mesh with the sweetness of the cupcakes. The key is in placing non-traditional flavors in the cupcakes that would clash with the beer. Ingredients such as woodruff, cheese or bacon fit the bill and can easily work with a cupcake. Balance the savory with the sweet. Construct each dessert to fit the characteristics of each individual beer.

The following pairings should give you some ideas: 

Das Wunderkind! Sour Saison – Jester King Brewery I Thai Cupcake
This beer starts with soft smells of fruit, and a slight sour taste. Paired up with a Thai Curry cupcake that includes a light coconut cream frosting. The contrast of the flavors really draws out the tart and tropical fruit flavors of the beer, melding them with the coconut cream frosting.

Buddha’s Brew – Jester King Brewery I Apple Balsamic Cupcake with Gorgonzola Frosting
The tart and sour flavors of this one coupled with the aroma of the Kombucha really come through and set the tone for the pairing choices.  The apples cooked down a bit in balsamic, compliment the vinegar notes of the Kombucha, then topped off with Gorgonzola butter cream frosting that balances out the acidity. 

Festina Peche - Dogfish Head Craft Brewery I The Rare Pear with Mascarpone Frosting. 
The aroma gives off hints of a funky cheese, reminding us of Camembert cheese, with a slight taste of peach and honey, with slight notes of sour.  We chose a cake that is normally made with champagne and instead substituted the beer, which came through beautifully, adding notes of pear to compliment that funky cheese smell, camembert cheese to bring the flavor out and of course topped off with an easy going Mascarpone frosting.

Speedway Stout with Dried Sour Cherries - Alesmith Brewing Co |Cabrito Café 
The beautiful flavors of coffee in this beer just begged to be paired with coffee & chocolate. A dark chocolate cupcake was developed, made with strong coffee, and topped off with a slightly sweet Vanilla Goat Cheese frosting. After all, who doesn’t like cream with their coffee?

These pairings show that you can buck conventional wisdom, stick to what works and have a great pairing that brings attendees back for more. Just remember if you’re trying this at home place flavors in your sweet dessert that contain a more prominent acidic profile that will balance out the acidic nature of the sour and don’t forget to have fun!