How many corn fritters constitute a full meal?
This batch performed double duty in my homebrewery. It was initially a test batch for my brewery-in-planning, but it also served as a last minute entry into The Diamond Bar’s Brew ‘n Chew VI. The idea behind Brew ‘n Chew is that teams of homebrewers each produce a batch of beer as well as an accompanying food dish. The general public buys tickets and then votes on the best pairing. Some of the ticket price goes back to reimburse the homebrewers, but a majority of proceeds goes to a charity selected by The Diamond. It’s always a good time and it’s fun to challenge yourself to think outside the box with beer pairing ideas. I paired a hoppy wheat beer with a sweet corn ricotta fritter with tomato-peach chutney.
Let’s put a deep fryer near a bunch of drunk people! Plus a baby!
The brew is inspired by hoppy wheat beers (Three Floyds Gumballhead, Boulevard 80-Acre, non-wheat-using-but-hoppy Carton Boat Beer) that tread the line between wheat beer and American IPA. I enjoy drinking these kinds of beers year round, not just their allotted Summer-seasonal release dates. I began with a simple grain bill (50% American 2-row, 50% White Wheat malt) and wanted to use two varieties of hops, preferably easily attainable and affordable so brewing this recipe will be commercially viable. I ended up using three hops, Bravo for bittering (because I have a few pounds in the freezer wanting to get used) and Centennial and Mosaic for aroma/flavor additions near the end of the boil as well as dry-hopping I also threw in a small dose of Bravo in the dry-hop just because I thought it would add some complexity.
Appearance. Hazy deep golden hue slightly fading into orange. Wonderful pillowy head that left great lacing in the glass. Nice looking beer.
Aroma. Orange peel, stone fruit, peach, apricot, cotton candy, geraniums, some grassy resinous notes. The Mosaic seems to play a complementary role rather than taking over the aroma, similar to how willamette hops work. Very enticing nose.
Taste and Mouthfeel. The hop forward nose continues into the flavor, with citrus being the predominant flavor. The sweet peach notes also are present and follow behind. For my tastes, the mouthfeel could be slightly more full, possibly with a caramel/crystal malt like caravienne or c-20 but more than likely with a water chemistry addition of calcium chloride for palate fullness. Carbonation is actually spot on despite always-too-foamy mobile draft setup.
Overall Impressions. Very close to what I was trying to achieve with this beer, although I feel that the hop nose was a bit “boring” for me. By boring I mean that the classic centennial citrus/flowery nose isn’t as cutting edge hop-wise as I’d like to be. I think I’m looking for something new, extravagant, and unique, which is a conundrum because the other goal of this recipe is to be commercially viable. Mosaic was inserted into the recipe for uniqueness, but the cost per pound of this variety is so high that using it in much larger batches would be tough. It also didn’t make my beer stand out from other brews as I would have liked, so I may lower the Centennial amounts used and switch out the mosaic for another newer variety like Meridian, Belma, or El Dorado.
Pairing Notes. The wheat beer paired very nicely with the delicate sweetness of the sweet corn ricotta fritter and the sweet-and-sour flavors of the tomato-peach chutney. The fritter was basically deep-fried batter so the sharp bitterness of the hoppy wheat beer cut through the fat nicely leaving your palate refreshed for another bite and had many people coming back for seconds (and thirds). Even though my team didn’t win, there is not much I would change about the pairing, besides a few minor quibbles about the beer (personal preference really).
One hilarious side note about this event is that I mistakenly thought I used Glacier hops in place of Mosaic and discussed recipe notes and tips with brewers and non-brewers alike all day about the wonderful peach notes I was getting from the Glacier hops and how it really elevated an otherwise mundane hop profile. Amatuer hour.
*Special shout out to Chris Prout for joining me at the last minute and lending a helping hand. Cheers!