Good pairing, no thinking and a farmish pleasant evening

There’s this cool breeze further solidifying a peaceful moment as I lazily scan the horizon to our east. I’m sitting on our porch swing, sipping at Kyle’s latest homebrew on a now-scarce day off. It’s a lovely little snapshot in time, about to get better.

The timer sounds off, and we pounce on the oven with pulsating taste buds.

“Yes, there’s just something about rhubarb pie. It’s worth going through the rest of the meal just to get it. Especially if it’s Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie.”

–Garrison Keillor

We’re all hopping around the porch, singing Garrison‘s Bebopareebop Rhubarb Pie Song, looking like dorks. But our nearest neighbor is a mile away, so it matters not. When we lived in Raleigh, you could get rhubarb at Whole Foods for some ridiculous amount of dollars per pound. Ridiculous, because my childhood memories had the sour weeds growing everywhere. We’d chew on those things while playing outfield in my neighbor’s back yard, tossing it aside when a ball came our way.

Yes, the return to the Land of Rhubarb Growing in A Lotta People’s Yards is good. I once forked out a fistful of cash in Raleigh, because I really did miss that flavor, and because I wanted my boys to taste their roots, somewhat literally. They loved it. Now they understood why their mom and I always broke out in song while driving down the road listening to A Prairie Home Companion.

So this night was special. Jake’s the real rhubarb lover, so I tracked some down for him. He chopped it, and I slapped together a pie. It’s better on a porch. I wasn’t really thinking about the beer I was drinking for this “occasion.” If one was to ask, “Self, what beer would be right for rhubarb pie?”, what would the answer be? Perhaps something sour, so the flavors could meld and intensify? Or something completely different? Or nothing at all, as rhubarb is sorta its own little thing?

The answer was Kyle’s saison. This is about his fifth batch of beer, and was already making a pleasant country evening of life–before the pie was finished baking. Nice, spicy character. A rough-hewn burnt orange tint. Refreshing and good. And really spot on for rhubarb pie, if there is such a thing.

Maybe I need to give some thought to a pairing for catsup.


6 Responses to Good pairing, no thinking and a farmish pleasant evening

  1. Glenn says:

    I can picture your next batch of homebrew.. Rhubarb ale!

  2. Tom from Raleigh says:


    Glad to hear things are going well for you guys. My go to rules for beer pairing are:

    1. Match the color of the beer to the color of the food, so grilled meats go great with darker beers, like brown ales, porters and stouts as does chocolate.
    2. If no other answer sounds right, saison’s rarely wrong.

  3. Is rhubarb not commonly available in the US? What about parsnips? Here in Holland you only ever find those in healthfood shops.

  4. Wilson says:

    Ron-I’d say that rhubarb is definitely common in the Midwest, not sure about everywhere else. There are a bunch of home winemakers around here that use it to make wine (No, Glenn, I’m not planning a rhubarb ale). Last fall, I had three versions of one dude’s rhubarb wine, one straight and two with different amounts of strawberries added to fermentation. I liked the straight rhubarb style the best. To me rhubarb seems the kind of thing that’s in people’s backyards, and not in supermarket aisles. Actually paying for the stuff in Raleigh seemed foreign to me. Parsnips and turnips are available, though I’d guess less gardened than carrots where root veggies are concerned.

  5. As a kid, I saw rhubarb in loads of back gardens. I guess because the stuff grows like a weed.

    In continental Europe, parsnips are a real rarity. One of my favourite veggies. The Dutch word for parsnip, by the way, is pasternak. Like the bloke who wrote Dr, Zhivago.

  6. Dave says:

    Wilson, thanks for the memories! We always try to take some rhubarb back with us from Michigan when we’re up there. We make the pies and the sauce. I think of asparagus the same way — growing like weeds in empty lots in West Michigan where I grew up. (not the pies or sauce, though!)

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