Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Chook and Beer

For those that don't speak Australian, a chook is a chicken. On Sunday morning, we looked down at our rather prodigious crop of sage, and I noted that the sight of that fine herb made me want to cook a chicken. So, I bought a chicken, and a cauliflower, (why the hell not!) and made fire. Tucked some sage under the breast skin, a little more in the cavity, along with some crushed garlic cloves and an onion. Roasted it at medium heat for a couple of hours with a smoky fire in the firebox, and another hour with just coals. During that last hour, the cauliflower, drizzled with oil in an iron skillet, joined the chook. A fine start. What about beer?

Well, Mrs. Cicerone had a backlog of homework, so we picked a few we thought might work. First up, a rauchbier from Quebec brewers Trois Mosquetaires. Rauchbier sounded like just the ticket. Actually, says the Shelton Brothers website, it's "inspired by rauchbier." A nice, very dark brown beer, it has a bit more in common with the typical smoked porter than Bamberg rauchbier. It stood up to the rich smoke and sage flavors of the chicken well. Another homework assignment was to revisit Routes des Epices(scroll down linked page for description) from Dieu du Ciel in Montreal. This deep amber-brown beer uses a portion of rye in the grist, and is spiced with black peppercorns (the name translates to "Spice Route" in English.) A wonderful beer with a wide range hearty food, if not a true utility player. I also kept a nice homemade helles nearby, for safety's sake. So how did all this work out? Well, the chicken had all kinds of flavor hooks to play with: smoke, caramel/browned, sage, garlic, meaty, fatty. The cauliflower also had some good browned/caramel flavors, as well. The Mosquetaires showed the merest hint of smoke, with roasty, coffee, and toffee flavors most prominent. Nice, but not a killer match. The Spice Route has caramel malt type richness, a bit of rye, and a fruitiness in the nose and the flavor. Plus the pepper, which contributes to the fruity, spicy aroma, and long, lingering glow. Black pepper is definitely on the list of good things to flavor beers with besides hops, and it's a good thing to put on your chicken, too. A great matchup. And the helles? Aww, yeah. Sage and Saaz hops play together nicely; a good pair in intensity and herbal character. Hard to go wrong with helles on your table....


  1. The yeast from Batch 300A is going into some rye peppercorn PA....