Pairings: Maredsous 8 Dobbel and Country Terrine
On my first trip to The Four Firkins I bought several beers, some that I had read about and was excited to try, and others simply because of the awesome packaging. Maredsous 8 Dobbel fell into the latter category; how could I resist a bottle that looks like this?
At the time of my trip I had not reached the Belgian abbey ale section of The Brewmaster’s Table so for a time the Maredsous just sat on a shelf looking pretty. I soon reached the aforementioned section and the Maredsous specific paragraph:
Maredsous 8 Dobbel derives its number from the pld scale of Belgian degreees, referring to the strength of the original wort. The beer has a beautiful garnet color and raises a rocky tan head. The aroma is terrific, a dance of biscuits, rum, and raisins. The beer opens up on the palate with foamy pinpoint carbonation and a light bitterness. It seems sweet at first but then dries as flaors of concentrated raisins, dark sugar, and dark rum combine with a winy acidity to bring the beer to a long finish. At 8 percent, this beer is a bit stronger than most dubbels.
On the color, certainly, Oliver was right on; this beer is beautiful to behold:
Tasting the beer, I realized my palate isn’t nearly as developed or sensitive as Oliver’s (okay, I realized this long before I tasted this particular beer, but it underscored the point). Where he tastes raisins and dark sugar I tasted a very strong roasted, carmelly flavor. Which is not to say the beer was excessively heavy; on the contrary, it had the pleasant floral-citrusy-fruitiness that I usually associate with ales. There was also a slight bitterness from the hops, but it was not strong.
One of the best parts of this beer was the carbonation—it feels spritzy and alive on the tongue with bubbles that tickle, rather than bludgeon, as they burst. And I suppose the 8% alcohol was also a best part, although as you can see I compensated by drinking a smaller glass. All things in moderation.
A great beer on its own, what got me most excited about Oliver’s description of Maredsous 8 Dobbel were the pairing notes:
A fine beer to match with short ribs, beef cheeks, leg of lamb, venison sausages, country pâtés, and wild boar.
Country pâtés! Anytime I see those words my heart brightens up, my brain starts churning and my mouth starts watering (the increased heart activity may be in anticipation of all the fat and cholestorol one of these pork loaves packs into my bloodstream). I’ll take just about any excuse to make a terrine, and a bottle of Maredsous seemed better than most. Terrine is neither a fancy nor a technically demanding dish—it’s just meatloaf!
- 1# Chicken Liver
- 1# Ground Pork
- 1/4# Bacon
- 1/4# Pork Sirloin Chop
- 1/2 c minced parsley
- 3 sprigs minced rosemary
- 5 cloves minced garlic
- 1 c blanched almonds
- 3 T Bourbon
- Allspice, Nutmeg and Cinnamon
- Salt and Pepper
The main meats (liver and ground pork) are pretty standard for country terrines. I chose the herbs because they were on hand and needed to be used up. I had two reasons for including the almonds; I wanted the chunkier texture and visual interest that whole almonds impart, and we recently overbought almonds so I am putting them in everything. The pork chop was also to get a chunkier texture; I cut it into half-inch cubes and mixed it in with the forcemeat. The bacon is there for keeping everything moist and fatty, and the other ingredients are pretty standard.
I really loved the chunky texture of the almonds and diced pork—I prefer coarse terrines to fine. The almonds also gave the whole loaf a strong nuttiness that makes a great counterpoint to the richness of (lots of) pork fat.
The pork fat was really the force that drove this pairing. The carbonation of the beer was great for cutting through all that richness and lifting it off the tongue. The mildly citrusy-fruitiness had a similar palate-cleansing effect. The very slight hoppiness in the beer was magnified by the herbs, and the herbs by the hops. The caramel flavors that were so apparent when tasting the beer on its own were still there but didn’t seem to add or detract from the terrine. A sweeter or more darkly-roasted dish might prove a better complement to those flavors. But with an excuse to both drink beer and make a terrine, I can’t complain. Not that I need an excuse.