This was my second trip to Belgium, but my first as a brewer. I went looking for inspiration, to taste some of the best beers in the world in their native land, but also see what's new, what's developing, what direction Belgian beer is taking.
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There are countless liquids to braise in, but never before have we come across one that uses sour beer. This Carbonade à la Gueuze from Edward Behr's The Art of Eating Cookbook is a traditional Belgian beef dish that employs tart, bracing geuze or young lambic. If you're familiar with sipping these tart, puckery brews you can probably imagine the complexity that they lend to a beef stew, an intriguing background of sourness that's offset by the addition of a bit of sugar just before serving.
Brewers have been fermenting sour beers with stone fruits and berries for centuries but it's Jeni Britton Bauer, the ice cream mastermind behind Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams at Home who had the good sense to bring them together in ice cream form. Her Sour Beer Sorbet is a model for a whole world of sweet-tart and totally refreshing sour beer and fruit combos.
If you're a fan of lambic, gueze, or any other fruity wild fermented ales, this Sour Beer Sorbet is a dream come true. It's sweet meets sour with just a whiff of yeastiness.
If you haven't tasted a traditional Kriek or Framboise before, you're in for a surprise. They're funky and acidic, with hints of shoe leather and wet dog. These days, you'll frequently see fruit beers with added sweeteners and fruit juices—lots of folks love them, but we encourage you to try the real thing sometime. Traditionally sour fruit lambics may not be beers for beginners, but they're a palate-expanding experience we highly recommend.
Chocolate and beer? Together? It may sound like a conspiracy on the part of beer-loving-guys to take back Valentine's Day, but take it from this former skeptic: Chocolate and beer can be an incredible pairing.