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By: | Posted: 04/01/2012
This week is the Belgian Ale sale. I'll admit I did not drink enough Belgian Ale, even though I really like beer. I drink plenty of beer. I enjoy microbrews, and local brews and craft beers with weird names.
Enter Molly Auron, our assistant beer buyer. Here's the thing about Molly: She LOVES Belgian beer and her enthusiasm about the brew is enough to make you fill a cart. She single handedly got me on the Belgian wagon. If you like wine, jump on the wagon. If you don't like beer, because the only you thing you’ve ever tried is some swill at a college party, jump on the wagon. Here's why: Belgian beer is complex. The process to brew the beer is complex- the malts, the yeast. It pairs with food as exceptionally as wine does. It's made to be enjoyed with food, and not out of the back of a truck. (Although, I've done that too.)
A great introduction to Belgian Beer is Tripel Karmeliet. If you typically drink a lighter beer, this is a great place to start. The flavor is light enough that it won't over power your palate. The drier taste that you experience isn't hops; it's the higher alcohol content. It's spicy, citrusy, yeasty, and effervescent. It's refreshing enough to drink alone, but I imagine it standing up to and cutting through a number of rich foods: cheese, curry dishes, duck. Take that, wine. If you already drink a darker brew, try the Maredsous Brune. It has a rusty amber color and you will be able to pick out all of those dark, dried fruit flavors-raisin, fig, and plum. It's begging to be paired with barbecue's warm, caramelized flavors.
I've got the basics, so I asked Molly pointed me toward something even more unique and complex. She's got a lot of praise for Flemish Reds and points me to the flagship bottling for the variety: Rodenbach Grand Cru. She tells me to think of it as a replacement for lemonade. It is tart! It's perfect for a hot day, with wine-like cherry flavor. Vinous and acidic flavors say: Serve me with a salad doused in balsamic! Best served while you are sweating! Yes, I think I will.
There is nothing like a good beer.... err... Bottle Conditioned Belgian Ale. Same diff. Just ask Molly.
Andrew Zimmern is a columnist for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine and the host of Travel Channel's Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern.See bio
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