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Food Pairing: Chicago Dog and Grodziskie


When studying for the Certified Cicerone® exam many years ago I found that the food and beer pairing was the most interesting and difficult. The way that malt, hops, yeast and carbonation intermingle with food can turn a relatively mundane meal into a sublime and special culinary adventure. In this photo from yesterday at Fonta Flora's Whippoorwill Farm I am highlighting a harmony of flavors with this beer and food pairing. The beer shown is a Polish smoked beer called Grodziskie. This style of beer has made a bit of an emergence in recent years as American brewers have made an effort to brew old world beers that were only consumed in their home countries many years ago.


What is a Piwo Grodziskie?


A grodziskie is a light bodied, low alcohol, oak smoked, Polish ale that has been considered an historical style because it wasn't brewed very much in recent history. It is named after the Polish town of Gradzisk where it was first brewed in the 19th and 20th centuries. American breweries such as Green Man, Live Oak, Zebulon, and Fonta Flora have been trying to give the style more attention as of late so do yourself a favor and order one to try a taste of history.


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Fonta Flora made a very delicate version, seen pictured above, of the Grodziskie and I enjoyed it quite a bit on my most recent visit to the farm. The special part of this beer is its drinkability. The body is super light so the ability to drink many of them goes up exponentially. That coupled with its high carbonation, low abv (3.2%), and light smoke really balances the beer in the tasters favor.


Grodziskie beer utilizes 100% oak smoked malt in order to get that light smoked character. Unlike typical German beechwood smoked German beers, called Rauchbiers, the Grodziskie is lighter in body, higher in carbonation and lighter on the smoke than their German cousins. They also have lower alcohol by volume as well. Typically, naysayers of smoked beers have objections with smoked beers calling them too jerky or ham-like and/or reminding them of Band-Aids. This specific example uses a gentle oak smoke to accentuate the beer experience. The style gets the balance from the smoked malt, continental hops, multiple ale yeast strains as well as the effervescence of its high carbonation.


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The Pairing of Chicago Dog with Grodziskie


When I saw that Fonta Flora' s food truck, Singlewyde, had a hot dog food truck yesterday I was super excited to see a Chicago dog on the menu. Being that Chicago is where I spent most of my adult life before moving to Asheville I became anxious to see what kind of hot dog game this truck had yesterday. Once in the brewery I realized that the food and beer pairing would be complete by adding a Grodziskie.


The dog itself was a large, all beef frank nestled into a soft bun topped with yellow mustard, non-neon relish, sliced tomatoes, chopped raw onions, hot sport peppers and a long pickle spear all covered in loose poppy seeds. I did not see or taste any celery salt on top of the hot dog which was disappointing but not a deal breaker. As an ex-Chicagoan I know how weirdly hard it is to source poppy seed buns in the South so kudos to Singlewyde for making the effort. The dog was rich and grilled nicely with a pretty good snap to the actual hot dog. The veggies were fresh, tangy and spicy.


This beer pairing worked like peanut butter and jelly. The light smoke of the Grodziskie complimented the wood smoke from the grill and accentuated the beef. The carbonation of the beer as well as the light body was like an elevated Wrigley Field hot dog experience. All of the "garden" toppings kind of popped through the beer as well so there was never a dull moment. The beer took hold with each individual topping providing a slightly oaky, fruity and grainy counterpoint to the condiments. It was a sensational experience that I highly recommend.


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Believe me when I say that I took my time enjoying this pairing as I wanted to hold on and savor the experience. It was not easy. The whole time during this late lunch I wanted to inhale both the hot dog and the beer. Overall I was very pleased with this delicious pairing of the Chicago style hot dog and the Grodziskie on the Whippoorwill Farm. If you haven't tried this combination of flavors I highly recommend it at the farm brewery or at home.


Cheers!


Evan Rosenberg

Owner/Operator

Certified Cicerone®

Asheville, NC

www.beercitybrewerytours.beer

828-677-2337 (BEER)




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