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Pairing Beer & Dessert: SmallBar And Oskar Blues Shows Us How It's Done

By Lorna Juett in Food on Aug 24, 2012 6:00PM

SmallBar Apple Cobbler via Theresa Carter of The Local Tourist
Thursday's beer dinner at SmallBar featuring the new Oskar Blues beers was mostly spot-on in terms of pairing beers with appropriate courses, but the final course was a standout. The pairing of Oskar Blue Old Chub Scotch Ale on cask with oak and vanilla bean with a summer apple cobbler with cinnamon streusel, and buttermilk anglaise was a near perfect hit.

The not-too-sweet dessert mirrored the beer by bringing forth vanilla, roundness from the egg and butter in the "cobbler" (it was more of a cake-like pudding with summer apples on top), and toasty flavors from crispy cinnamon streusel "croutons." The overall sweetness of both the beer and the dessert was matched, and the beer's higher alcohol content cut through the richness of the course.

But here's what what set the whole thing off: The sourness from the buttermilk anglaise enhanced the malty and sweet characteristics of the beer, bringing a wonderful balance to the dish. While the apples were a fruity and somewhat tart bonus, without the sour buttermilk flavor of the anglaise the richness and sweetness of both beer and dessert would have been overpowering and flat. Instead, the pairing seemed bright, synchronized and almost unexpected.

Unfortunately for you, both the dessert and the beer were a limited release. However, you can invoke a similar experience at SmallBar with their blueberry and raspberry cobbler with creme fraiche paired with New Holland Dragon's Milk or Local Option Kentucky Common. While the beers mentioned in this article are different styles, they have an oaky backbone with strong malt characteristics and not too much sourness, as you want the sourness of the creme fraiche and the berries to play off the sweetness and malty characteristics of the beer. Also, while it's not oaked, Trappistes Rochefort 10 with it's dried fruitiness, strong malt, and slightly bitter finish would also be a smart choice.