Tired of the same old, same old? Wings, Beer & pizza left you uninspired? Why not Kick Up Your Next Cocktail Party with Craft Beer Cocktails and Pairings .
Ashley Rouston, a.k.a. The Beer Wench is well known amongst the craft beer community. She is a self-proclaimed craft beer evangelist and social media maven on a mission to advance the craft beer industry through education, inspiration and advocacy. (Be sure and listen to our fun interview with Ashley on Road Trip Radio.)
Beer Wench … Now, That’s an unusual career choice. How does one become a beer wench?
My story is just as unusual as the career sounds. Long story short, my background in food & beverage exposed me to the wonderful world of craft beer. When I left the restaurant biz for the crazy world of advertising and marketing, I felt a void and a desire to connect with my love for booze. A writer by trade, I remedied the situation by launching a beer blog. And seeing as how I worked for an extremely talented and creative agency, it was crucial for me to develop a brand for my venture. At the time, I was a ripe young 24 year old, and wanted a brand that reflected my playful and quirky personality. So, late one February night in 2008, The Beer Wench was born!
Why beer and not wine?
Ah, herein lies the rub. I left out a few important details from the story above. Technically, it was wine that got me into beer. I started pursuing sommelier certification not too long after college graduation. I spent several years studying and working in wine, even worked for a brilliant Master Sommelier.
It is no secret that I originally wanted to write a wine blog. But intimidation got the best of me, so I fell back on my second love at the time, beer. Hasn’t stopped me from infiltrating the wine blogger community, though. I like to think of myself as an honorary wine blogger 😉
But when everything is all said and done, my stars were aligned the day I chose to blog about beer over wine. Never have regretted my choice, and haven’t looked back since.
These days, however, my actual title is “Director of Awesomeness” at Bison Brewing in Berkeley, CA. My responsibilities include everything from marketing to sales, PR, administrative work, event planning and even brewing (and then some). Can’t lie, I’ve got the best job in the world.
Gueze (spontaneously fermented Lambic from Belgium) and mussels definitely tops the list.
Oysters and dry stouts are a classic, must try pairing. Next time you are out, ask for a stout instead of champagne, it will blow your mind.
Bacon wrapped figs stuffed with blue cheese paired with a barleywine is another awesome match.
I also love anything salty with IPA’s. Salt intensifies the citrus and floral nature of hops, and relieves some of the bitterness. A great pairing is obviously cheese, but I also like sushi and shellfish with IPAs. By nature, anything from the sea is salt-forward.
Lastly, I love Saisons (Belgian farmhouse ale) with curries, especially Thai. The spicy dryness of the saidon is a perfect match for the spicy richness of those sauces.
What does someone look for when selecting a beer to compliment their meal?
Essentially, there are two things that need to be balanced in a food & beer pairing: weight and volume. Think of weight as being light to heavy, and volume as being soft to loud. Rich and fatty foods need more robust, higher alcohol beers. Lighter, fresh foods demand lighter styles of beer. When it comes to intensity of flavors, or volume, strong food flavors need strong beer flavors and visa versa. Ideally, the pairing would heighten the flavors of both the dish and the beer, without competing with each other.
Example: Barleywine = heavy (big body and lots of booze) + intense (strong hop and malt profile), Blue Cheese = heavy + intense and together they are a perfect pairing.
Example 2: Berliner Weiss = light (lower alcohol, lighter malt) + light intensity (slightly acidic), Goat Cheese = light weight + light intensity of flavor
What’s your favorite recipe that incorporates beer?
Ooooh this is tough. Any recipe that requires some sort of liquid (water, wine, broth, stock etc…) can easily be prepared with beer as a substitute. Soups, stews, and chili all work well with beer as an ingredient.
There is something super magical about beer that makes it a fantastic tenderizer for meat — especially beef. Poaching fish in lighter styles of beer is also super tasty. And then there is always the good old beer battered anything (esp pickles!).
As for one of my most successful cooking with beer recipes has been a killer stout baked mac and cheese — sounds crazy, but it is amazing!
What is Beermixology?
In its most basic definition, beer mixology is the art and science of mixing cocktails that use beer as an ingredient.
Turbulence. At minimum, I knew that my signature drink would need to include Saison, my favorite style of beer, and Gin, my favorite spirit. When developing the recipe, I turned to one of my all-time favorite cocktails — The Aviation — for inspiration.
The Aviation traditionally consists of gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and creme de violette (some recipes omit the creme de violette, though). Garnish varies from lemon twist to cherry to star anise. In lieu of maraschino liqueur, I opted to use a Kriek — a sour cherry, spontaneously fermented Lambic style of beer that hails from Belgium. As a tribute to the friend that first introduced me to The Aviation cocktail, Ryan Magarian, who is a well-known mixologist and the co-founder of Aviation Gin, I chose to use Aviation Gin as the main gin for the recipe.
- 1 1/2 oz. Aviation Gin
- 1/4 oz. Creme de Violette
- 1/4 oz. Lemon Juice
- 1/2 oz. Kriek
- 1 1/2 oz. Saison Dupont
- Star Anise Garnish
1. Add gin, creme de violette + lemon juice in a shaker, shake vigorously 15 counts, strain into martini glass.
2. Add kriek and saison, garnish with star anise.
When traveling, your favorite beer city is ? Why?
Yikes! This is a super hard question. My favorites include Chicago, San Francisco, San Diego, Portland, Denver and NY. They all have thriving beer cultures and lots off amazing bars and breweries to offer. As for favorite destination, lately I have to say that it is Portland, OR. Per capita, Portland has more breweries than any other U.S. city — 2nd in the world. It doesn’t really matter where you go in Portland, just about every bar carries something local and craft. Even the strip clubs are infamous for having amazing beer selections! You can’t walk ten blocks in Portland without finding a great craft beer… it’s pretty amazing. Plus, they have some pretty amazing beer people there… and that is always important.
What’s trending for beer in 2012? What’s next on the horizon?
The craft beer industry is one of the most innovative industries out there. We are constantly evolving, which is always exciting. Naturally, beer cocktails is a trend that I anticipate blowing up over the next year. The current trend towards barrel-aged beers is also at an all-time high. One of the biggest trends that I have noticed though, and expect only to grow, is collaboration beers. The craft beer industry is one of the only industries that I know of that partners with its competitors to co-produce products. It is something that truly makes us unique!