Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries

October 19, 2009

Beer and Food:

Beans, Beans, The Beer-Friendly, Uh, Legume

Take a beans side dish to another stratosphere with a healthy dose of yummy, malty beer.
by Eddie Glick

I like my beer like my women: pale, strong, full-bodied, and extremely bitter.
Contact Eddie»
Dedicated readers may recall that my favorite non-alcoholic food is oatmeal. Not only is it delicious and nutritious, you can make beer out of it. Another one of my favorite foods is beans, black beans in particular. Although I’m sure Nigel will be disappointed, I’ll dispense with the musical fruit references and get down to what makes beans even better: not only can you eat them while you drink beer, you can cook them with beer to boot.

Below is a quick little recipe that makes a kick-ass side dish to brats, steaks, burgers, chicken, or pretty much any food stuffs that spent some time over the hot coals of the Weber grill. Or you could be like me and eat a big pot of beans as the main course.

Autumnal Black Beans
4 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
¼ cup olive oil
½ pound smoked bacon, sliced
1   yellow onion, peeled and diced
6 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp steak or beef spice rub
4 tbsp tomato paste
12 ounces Capital Autumnal Fire

Rinse and drain the black beans, then set aside.

In a large pot, saute the bacon in the olive oil over medium heat until the bacon is crispy. Add the onion and cook five minutes. Stir in garlic and brown sugar and cook another five minutes, until onions are caramalized. Add the rub and tomato paste and gently stir until ingredients are thoroughly mixed. Then deglaze the pot with the beer and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer.

Add the beans. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately.

The maltiness of the Autumnal Fire adds a dose of meaty sweetness to the beans, and plays well against the savory spank of the bacon. If you want some bitterness to add another dimension to the affair, substitute a big, harsh imperial stout for the Autumnal Fire. Maybe Bell’s Expedition Stout, Founders Imperial Stout, or go really crazy and dump in some Lakefront Bridge Burner. Get some bourbon hints in there by using, say, New Holland Dragon’s Milk or Tyranena Devil Over A Barrel. Basically, anything with a good dose of maltiness and body will work. Experiment with your favorite brews and drop me a line if you stumble across a revelation in taste.

The next important question is, what to drink with your grand concoction of fiber and protein? Well, you can’t go wrong with drinking the very same beer that you cooked with. But a lot of beer-food dorks frown on that as too complementary and pedestrian. So if you’re feeling adventurous, I’d suggest going with a strong contrast: imperial IPA, like Three Floyds Dreadnaught, or something else with real bite, like Great Lakes Nosferatu or Surly Furious.

Just follow your taste buds and make sure to share with friends, family, and aquaintances who you think could use a good meal, craft beer, and—this one’s for you, Nigel—colon cleansing.

Drinkin’ And Thinkin’

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