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Friday, January 20, 2012

Chicken Sandwich Paired with Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Aged

Innis & Gunn's Rum Cask Oak Aged Ale is a unique and exciting brew.  I first encountered it at the Philly Craft Beer Festival in early 2011, where it made my top 3  beers of the day.  You can check out that review HERE.  The exciting part about the beer is its confluence of flavors:  The oak cask imparts an earthy, vanilla essence, with dark and sensual spices of Jamaican rum providing an appropriately playful partner for the sweetness.

Here's how you replicate my awesome sandwich:  First ingredient is a chicken breast.  Cut it down fairly small, then beat the crap out of it with a tenderizer.  Next, sprinkle kosher salt and fresh-cracked peppercorn on both sides and finally, grill it to perfection.  There.

The roll wasn't the best ever, but here's how you make it sexy-- Cut it open and put some oil-cured olives on one side, and Chimay cheese on the other.  Put it under the broiler for a few minutes until the bread is browned and the cheese is melty.  Excellent.


Now there's a serious sandwich.  Very savory.  So how does the Innis & Gunn rum cask ale match up with the food?  I have to be honest, it didn't work as well as I thought it would.  A week or two ago, I had Chimay cheese on a burger made with onions sauteed in Victory Golden Monkey.  The onions had taken on an extra sweetness, and the salty cheese was a perfect foil.  Here in my chicken sandwich, the salty bitterness of the olives and the savory Chimay Cheese worked together with the bacon to jazz up the chicken.  So perhaps a dry pale ale or smooth IPA would have cut the bold flavors, almost mimicking the neutrality of the chicken.

The rum flavors of the Innis & Gunn are a little too jazzy to cut the cheese (so to speak), and actually compete a little bit with the bold sandwich.  Perhaps an imperial stout to complement the bacon and the olives?  Or something more Belgian-y to go with the Chimay cheese?  Maybe even the original Innis & Gunn oak aged ale... Wanna check out our review of this beer?  Read it HERE.  Oddly enough, the original I & G review was posted on January 20th, 2010, exactly one year before the writing of this article.  Weird, huh?  Anyway, a session IPA may be the right call in the end.

Innis & Gunn Rum Cask Oak Aged Beer has some food match suggestions on its own site.  Check it out HERE.  Even though a strong, mature cheese is recommended, I wasn't blown away by the pairing with the Chimay cheese.  Maybe I should've added some chutney...  I & G also suggests game such as venison or duck, which both have a stronger flavor than chicken.  I guess that makes sense, considering the dark spiciness of the rum, which would complement the meat rather than compete with the accessories.

While I enjoyed both the sandwich and the beer, I don't think they were paired perfectly.  If you have any serious success stories or epic fails with regards to #craftbeer and food #pairings,  please share them with the Ferment Nation.  We would love to add YOU to our Citizen Review Cabinet.

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