Our Ballsy Search for the Best Mountain Oyster Beer Pairing
I know you’re going to think we’re nuts. That’s okay. Unlike many blogs, brewvana‘s got the cajones to take on topics deep into the frontier of beery living.
Kyle and I are team players, and for the benefit of all of Beerdom, we trekked over to the country club in Lenox for Slim’s Testicle Festival, an annual Super Bowl party/Rocky Mountain Oyster Fry. Our plan: smuggle in eight different beers to accompany our meal. We wanted to tease out the best pairing.
We entered a room full of Bud Light and Busch Light drinkers with our cooler packed with five homebrews: Jimmy’s Cream Ale, Saison de Kyle, Bramling Cross Porter, Stronghold Old Ale and As-yet-unnamed-second-runnings-“Old-Lager,” as well as Millstream’s Iowa Pale Ale and Schild Brau, and Ayinger Celebrator.
A word on testicles
Rocky Mountain Oysters are a misunderstood cuisine. There are two basic camps: those repulsed by the idea and those that have balls to check them out (the second group always loves them, and Kyle and I joined that group last night). They are delicious, especially turkey testes. That’s right, we had more than one kind, both turkey and calf.
So what do they taste like? After much thought, I’ve decided that if you blend chicken gizzards with hush puppies, you have calf testicles. As for turkey testicles, they are straight chicken-fried steak. And yummy.
How they matched
Jimmy’s Cream Ale: the beer was light and crisp and basically served as a good palate cleanser between bites.
Millstream’s Schild Brau: having won many awards in the Vienna Lager category, this beer had toasty elements that melded nicely with the breading and the flavors of the Rocky Mountain Oysters. This one worked quite well.
Saison de Kyle: with eight months of age, Kyle’s saison has lost some of its spicy and hoppy characteristics and is now more malty. The pepper on the oysters pulled out hidden peppers in the beer, but generally this wasn’t the match I’d hoped it would be. Last summer it would have been great.
Bramling Cross Porter: my hopped up porter performed poorly, as neither the hops or the roastiness had any intention of stroking this meal in a helpful way. Everything remained very separate.
“Old Lager:” this beer is a second runnings of my old ale, fortified with 6.6 pounds of malt extract, and fermented with Munich lager yeast. I brought it because I’d just kegged and sampled it, and it had bier de garde-ish nuances. I thought it might be a good idea. It was tasty, with good flavor melding, but the size of the beer was a little much to be terribly quaffable in this setting.
Stronghold Old Ale: though bigger and deeper than it’s lagered little brother, worked nicely, which surprised me after the malty saison and “Old Lager” seemed a little lackluster.
Ayinger Celebrator: this one also proves that you can’t count malt out, as it linked up magically with the breading. Also good with deviled eggs.
Millstream’s Iowa Pale Ale: the bright hoppiness shines nicely compared to the dark hop-roast blend we saw in the porter, though Kyle intoned: “I’m just losing the nut in the hoppiness.”
We agreed that Millstream Brewing Company’s Schild Brau Amber Lager was the best choice of the day. There was a wonderful blend of flavors, but this beer also kept itself separate and crisp, cleansing the palate for the next bite. The doppelbock and old ale were next in line. I thought the porter was least successful, while Kyle thought the pale ale didn’t work.
But what would Garrett do? Having been reading Garrett (brewmaster for Brooklyn Brewery) Oliver’s incredible Brewmaster’s Table lately, I couldn’t help but wonder what he thought would work. I contacted him, and as expected, even he hadn’t given this one much consideration, though he was happy to speculate:
“Well, that is a new one! The common American preparation (pounded flat, salt and peppered, floured and deep-fried) should work well with American-style amber lagers,or Marzen/Oktoberfest beers.”
Nailed it! That cat is impressive for more than just his beers.
The match worked wonders, and I’d highly recommend your checking out this pairing at the first opportunity. Some may still cringe, but what if you never tried craft beer? Rocky Mountain Oysters could be just another hidden gem ready to brighten your day.
The “festival” was a good time. But then when research into food and beer arises, I’m always enthusiastic. Regardless, Kyle and I had a ball!