Alesong Brewing & Blending
article by Doug Coombs | Founder, Alesong Brewing and Blending
When you think about what you’d like to drink with a meal at a high-end restaurant or what you take to dinner at someone’s house, what’s your first impulse? For most people, it’s a bottle of wine, but at Alesong, we hope to change that; or at least to convince people that beer ought to be considered a worthy alternative!
There’s no question that wine is a phenomenal, delicious, and complex beverage partner for food and dining experiences. However, we believe that beer, especially barrel-aged beer, can be every bit as interesting and complex, and it doesn’t have to be restricted to the more casual settings people usually associate with our favorite beverage. Not to say that we don’t love drinking IPAs in the Autzen parking lot before a football game (we do!), but we think there’s a breadth of opportunity to show people that beer also belongs at the dinner table or can be part of a classy evening out.
Wine is delicious and does pair well with food, but beer has a couple of key advantages that can be helpful with food pairings. The first and perhaps most apparent is mouthfeel from carbonation. The tiny bubbles created by carbonation naturally lift flavors off your palate, readying you for your next bite. That, plus some acidity, like you might find in one of our tart, barrel-aged sour ales, can be especially helpful alongside dishes with higher fat content to keep your palate feeling light and refreshed.
Maybe the best thing we have going for us, as brewers, is that we are less restricted in what we can put into our product than winemakers are. As long as the majority of the alcohol comes from fermenting malted barley, we are legally brewing beer. This explains why you see such diverse and incredible creations coming out of breweries that include fruits, spices, and all kinds of other ingredients. In fact, at Alesong, we even make quite a few beers that co-ferment with wine grapes–the best of both worlds! Such flexibility allows the beer to play a more prominent role in a complete dish. Think of how well a creamy burrata goes with peaches–now what about burrata paired with a beer made with whole organic peaches? Or the chocolatey malt flavors of a rich stout with fresh raspberries? The limitless flavors give so many opportunities to find a perfect beer to play a role in your meal.
But say that you already know that beer belongs on the table at your next dinner party–how do you convince your girlfriend, husband, or grumpy Aunt Sally to give it a shot?? At Alesong, that’s where we think presentation and experience matter. We take a ton of inspiration from our friends in the wine world who, in our view, have long done a better job with the customer experience and education than most breweries. From serving in the correct glassware (hint: it’s not a frozen pint glass) to warm, inviting tasting rooms emphasizing service, to food-centric events and membership experiences, we hope to capture some of the best of what we’ve seen in those experiences and open people’s eyes to what beer can be.
So if you want to help us spread the word, maybe bring Aunt Sally to our tasting room at 5th Street Public Market for a cheese and charcuterie board paired with a glass of Framboise, our sour ale made with biodynamic raspberries grown next door at King Estate. Come with your partner to experience a guided food and beer pairing at the brewery and spend a lovely afternoon in the country, or bring an elegant, corked bottle of barrel-aged beer to share at your next dinner party. Who knows, you might even find that you make a believer out of someone who’s spent their whole life convinced they don’t like beer!