Just as wine experts do, beer experts love talking about beer pairings. And like wine experts, it’s hard for beer experts to not come off a little snobby when they point out that an IPA’s herbal aroma pairs nicely with a sharp goat cheese.
It also seems to me that most pairings are simply matters of personal taste and current moods. You might like a hoppy beer to go alongside your spicy buffalo wings — I prefer a robust porter.
But I hope we can all agree that nothing goes better with beer — any beer — than baseball.
And in Santa Barbara, no place puts the two together quite like The Brewhouse on Montecito Street.
Monday marks the first full day of baseball, and it also marks the release of one of my favorite seasonal beers, Baseball Saison. It’s a big and strong saison-style ale that has the bold aromas typical of the style, but the beer remains remarkably drinkable with a relatively thin body.
The beer dates back to 2008, and The Brewhouse’s founder and brewmaster, Pete Johnson, recalls that the introduction of the beer was greeted with positive reviews — from the consumers but perhaps also from divine forces.
“The baseball gods were so pleased that they delivered my Phillies to the World Series,” Johnson said.
Indeed, the Philadelphia transplant had the rare fortune of seeing his favorite team take home the title that season. The shortstop from that Phillies squad, Jimmy Rollins, signed to play with the Dodgers this past winter.
And while you won’t be able to catch Rollins and the Dodgers on TV until Time Warner Cable resolves some contract disputes with other cable carriers, you can catch the rest of the games on screen at The Brewhouse.
And if perhaps a beer isn’t strong enough to settle down the nerves of opening day, the brewpub is offering up a “Double Play” that includes the beer and a shot of whiskey from Santa Barbara’s own Cutler’s Artisan Spirits.
Mind you, this is no ordinary whiskey. The white liquor is a distilled version of the Baseball Saison, and some of those delicious aromas make it through into the whiskey — and still others are created or modified in the distilling process.
Ian Cutler, the man behind Cutler’s, will be on premise at The Brewhouse Monday to talk about the whiskey and answer questions.
And if you order a Double Play while wearing your favorite team’s jersey, hat or T-shirt, Pete will give your team a run on a scoreboard created precisely for the Baseball Saison release. The team that scores the most runs on Monday will have its logo adorn the tap handle for the rest of the year.
So Dodgers fans, please don’t avoid wearing your Yasiel Puig jersey on Monday just because he won’t be on TV around here until ESPN airs their game on Wednesday.
“If you don’t want to see that hated red and black SF, you better come in your jersey,” Pete warned.
And if a saison isn’t your beer of choice, The Brewhouse has several new beers that will go well with the start of baseball season.
I enjoy El Citra — a “session IPA” that has all the hop aromas and flavors of a regular IPA but is considerably lower in alcohol. The bitterness is also scaled back, as low alcohol typically means low malt, and a bitter beer without some caramel malt flavors to balance it out is not the kind of beer I’d like to quaff again and again while watching a game.
This may be the only time I ever say this, but Monday, and baseball season, can’t come soon enough.
Sean Lewis is a beer drinker, beer maker and the author of “We Make Beer: Inside the Spirit and Artistry of America’s Craft Brewers” (St. Martin’s Press).