Beer is very much associated with Western fare, especially American cuisine. For us Asians, we like to enjoy our meals with rather sweet drinks or even just regular plain water. But what if we tried to pitch spicy, sweet, sour, zesty or even bitter flavours against the familiar hoppy notes of beer? Would it make for a blissful match, or would the Asian seasoning be too strong of a contender for the likes of a trusty pint?
1 Cali Grill & Bar
Holland Village is a bustling enclave that’s known for rows of eateries and bars that’ll cater to palates of all kinds. Although still a baby in the area, Cali Grill & Bar sets itself apart from other watering holes by its plethora of craft beers available. It serves your typical Western fare, peppered with several choice selections made with an Asian twist.
Peri Peri Striploin + Schlenkerla Smoked Marzen Lager.
The name of the beer may be unpronounceable to many, but this unique pairing is anything but a turn-off. The beer itself is both floral and fruity, without being too heavy, which is slightly surprising, given it’s meant to have a smokey aroma. Coupled with the spicy starter, the dish does well to not only stand out but also not clash with the beer. It doused the heat of the peri peri sauce slightly, but never washed it completely. The beef was great in texture and cooked to medium perfection.
Hoppy and refreshing at the same time, this beer goes down easy (just like its name!). We’d like to point out that the pizza dough is handmade in-house by the chef, which is what we’re always biased towards. When we took our first bite, we weren’t disappointed, as it was just the right ratio of crispy to chewy, texture-wise. We were, however, pretty let down by the fact that the spices failed to shine and wished it was even a wee bit spicy. Because the pizza failed to shine on its own, the beer overwhelmed it rather instantly, and then it was a sad-piece-of-bread-eaten-with-beer type of situation.
Sizzled Chilli Garlic Prawns (served with a side of pasta, on a hot plate) + Hofbräu Original Lager
Made to be a full-bodied beer that offers a truly fine hoppy aroma, The Hofbräu Original Lager is a superbly well-balanced pour. The dish was definitely impressive when it arrived at our table. But it stopped there. We wish the sweet soy-like sauce that smothered the prawns were also made for the pasta, as it sat in a sad pile on the hot plate unseasoned and lukewarm. We must commend on the way the generously-sized prawns were cooked; they were juicy, plump and bursting with flavour. When we took a few chugs of the lager with the prawns, there was a slight bitter end which wasn’t very welcoming – so we can’t really give this pairing a two thumbs up.
2 Red Baron
Gillman Barracks is a hot, upcoming area among the young ‘uns these days, with several hidden gems nestled within its compound. Located well away from the main bustle of traffic, this is a great temporary retreat for the mind as you dig into some wholesome eats and bottles of craft beer.
Beavertown’s signature bottle is fruity, zesty and floral, with a dominant aroma of tropical fruit and citrus. The sweet malty background is light enough to let those massive hops shine throughout the beer, especially in the finish when all those heady aromas come back for a rasping dry finish. When complemented with a fried food, the beer coats the tongue evenly, cutting through the grease and ends with a smooth, velvety finish. We noticed that the acidity coming from the salsa is neutralised by the beer, which makes the pairing very cohesive. The result is a refreshing, light feel, with a subtle sweetness brought on my the dory fish. Our only gripe was that we wished the mozzarella cheese that adorned the taco so beautifully was heated up to create a gooey, melted mess!
Shrimp & Avocado Taco + Weird Beard Brew Co. Mariana Trench
The best of American and New Zealand hops meld together in this union, with a prominent nose of mango and passion fruit, yet mild and mellow on the palate. The shrimp taco is definitely not a boring number, for one! It’s bold and punchy in flavour, with all the spices hitting you on first bite. The avocado soothes everything out, providing a luscious, creamy mouthfeel which the beer takes on very well. However, we did note that this dish brought out the bitterness in the beer, and in turn the beer emphasised the saltiness in the homemade seasoning. Weird, huh? If you aren’t one to back down from imposing flavours, this deal’s a great choice for you.
This golden lager is light, crisp and refreshing with subtle malty flavours and a super hoppy aroma of tropical fruits, citrus and passionfruit. And we can rave about how good and invigorating this pint will be on a typical humid Singapore day, but we want to rave about how brilliantly delicious this dish is! We would never have imagined this underestimated grain to be used in such a savoury recipe. It’s very similar to a nasi goreng kampung, but with quinoa instead of white rice. It’s strong almost-umami flavours waft continously through the nose as you chew and it’s just the right amount of sweet. Together with the beer, it helps tone down the bitterness. We will be honest, however, this current signature dish of Red Baron is phenomenal solo, and is sure to give us mad cravings very soon.
Wani’s writing has always spoken on her behalf far more than the spoken word. Her emotional relationship with food is almost as intense as her crazy love for HIIT workouts. Having written all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey, journalling her epicurean trails and sweaty gym sessions with relentless fervor.