Cheers to Beer!

I’ve never been an avid beer drinker. Perhaps growing up watching Al Bundy and Homer Simpson made me realize my physical aspirations were not dictated by my favorite television characters. Just because I don’t drink a lot of beer doesn’t mean I’m not willing to try different beers. In fact, it makes me pickier about the beers I drink and more appreciative of the ones I come close to enjoying. Sorry BC, but I’ll have to pass on the Bud Light, Natty Ice and Coors.

I discovered, while living abroad for 8 months in 2008, that sometimes beer pairs better with certain foods, people and social situations. Or sometimes, it’s just more convenient, refreshing and safe to pop a bottle of beer versus risking explosive diarrhea in consuming local, fresh-squeezed juices. Thus while traveling around Southeast Asia, I made it a goal to try the different beers out there. Back in Boston now, I’ve continued this goal and here are my conclusions thus far:

img_6540Chang Beer–Thailand

(Note: I did not consume this ginormous vessel of beer. In fact, I’m positive I had orange juice that night.)

I was immediately drawn to Chang because of its name (changchangchang…) and the two elephants on the label (I love elephants). I wonder if I’m related to the makers….anyhoo, I thoroughly enjoy this beer.  It pairs nicely with Thai curries, Pad Thai and fried foods (what beer doesn’t pair well with fried foods?). It isn’t super light (a characteristic of beer I detest) and has a stronger taste that lingers a bit. That’s probably why I’m fond of it. I’m always excited when Thai restaurants in Boston have Chang beer. Now I just have to find a liquor store that sells it…

img_19122Chimay Red–Belgium

(Check out the label. The good stuff is brewed by monks in Belgium)

I first tried Chimay Red (http://www.chimay.com/index.html) this past winter while dining at Balthazar in NYC’s SoHo. I’d been meaning to try Belgian beer ever since I saw a “Belgian Beer and Chocolate Pairing” in Beijing. I never got around to that event because I was at Olympic events. Oh well, life goes on. I’m glad I had Chimay Red because it’s so fruity yet bitter. It has a strong beer taste that I savor with every sip. It’s my favorite beer so far in my beersearch.

Last month I bought a Chimay Triple. It’s lighter than the Chimay Red and therefore not as endearing to me. Nonetheless savory, this beer has a more ‘hoppy’, ‘yeasty’ taste. If you like lighter beers, I recommend this one. I’m so happy to have discovered Chimay that I’ve been sharing it with my beer-loving friends. Just recently I gave Chimay as birthday and Christmas presents.

Who said cheese only goes with wine? Try pairing Chimay with cheese! If you don’t know what kind of cheese to pair it with, consult a cheesemonger. I did.  http://www.formaggiokitchen.com/ I went down to the South End shop and got some cheese recommendations. You should too.

Personally I prefer chocolate over cheese. If you’re up (or down) for a Belgium chocolate avec Belgium beer soiree, do let me know 🙂

I’d like to continue improving my beer knowledge…learn the difference between pilsners, lagers, ales, etc., learn how to pour beer correctly, what type of glass to serve it in, what constitutes ‘hoppy’, etc. I should tour the Sam Adams Brewery or Harpoon Brewery some time. They’re probably 20-30 minutes away via car so I should definitely take advantage of that at some point. Do let me know if you’re interested in joining me for brewery tours. I’ve been meaning to go for a while now. Less pondering, more action!

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