Spanish Chorizo Picante with Estrella Galicia 1906 and Kapuziner Weissbier

A friend gave me some goodies from Spain and Portugal, among which were a whole Chorizo Picante and a can of Estrella Galicia 1906 Reserva Especial. Regional pairings generally work well with beer as it does with wine. The concept of terroir (of which I am not knowledgeable enough about) is uniquely applicable to wine, or at least of very limited application to beer, if at all. The strongest argument for a regionally-based pairing of food and beer is that locals have been enjoying these classic combinations since time immemorial. This argument lends itself more to regional beer styles and local cuisine (e.g. Trappist ales and cheeses; oysters and stout; witbier and shellfish) than with mass-market lagers which are pretty much interchangeable (Heineken is Corona is Stella Artois is San Miguel). However, given the reserva especial designation on the label of this beer from Estrella Galicia, I decided to keep in theme and pair it with the chorizo and some quezo de bola that was lying around. I didn’t expect much, knowing this style of beer, and had an inkling that the reserva especial label is just another marketing ploy in the name of bland “premium beers” such as Stella Artois and San Miguel All-Malt.

The taste was all strong malts, with no hop flavor. Initially, it doesn’t taste as bad as most mass market adjuncts, but the presence of the corn strengthens as the beer gets warmer, reinforcing the concept that adjunct lagers really need to be “double-chilled,” “served zero,” “below zero,” as the low temperature is absolutely necessary to hide the impurities in the beer. The head is unexpectedly robust, I’ll give it that, not the thin and fizzy crown that is common with beers of this style. Ceteris paribus, this isn’t something I would pick out at a pub or from the store. However, while this isn’t really my kind of beer, it performs far better than many mass-produced lagers, especially at the right temperature.

The chorizo was gloriously fatty, not as hot as i would wish, but spicy and peppery enough. It was splendidly porcine, but sadly, I wish it could have overpowered the beer. The corn elements really stood out and despite the strong carbonation, the beer really failed to wash over the fat of the chorizo.

Thus, with the Spanish Estrella Galicia exceeding expectations, but nevertheless failing to satisfy, I decided to look across Europe to Germany. A much more pleasant combination was one of my old reliables, Kapuziner Weissbier, a hefeweizen which is not only affordable at around Php 70-80 (less than US$2) retail, but at its price point is one of the best examples of its style. A “hefe” goes with everything, with its crisp, fresh flavor. The banana and clove notes are a bit subdued with the Kapuziner, which makes it a good partner for the tasty chorizo, allowing the pork to take center stage while keeping the palate fresh by cutting through the fat. German wheat beers in general pair really well with sausages for that very reason. It’s a no-brainer match for me, and I’ll always go back to it when stumped for creativity. Case in point: one of the first entries I posted here was this same Kapuziner with some Hungarian sausage pasta in my favorite nook for good beer in Katipunan. I won’t repeat myself describing the Kapuziner here, as I made a more substantial review in that previous post.

As I mentioned above, terroir doesn’t factor into beer like it does for wine. Thus, once a recipe is perfected for beer, you can expect every batch to remain quite consistent – there are no good years and bad years for beer as there are for wine. It can be a really good thing, as is the case with steady beers like Kapuziner, perfected by years of tradition and practice. You know that everytime you pop open a can or bottle, you’ll be getting a product that is guaranteed to satisfy.

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