By Sarah Jaquay
March can be a slog, but it’s our signal to start planning May celebrations. Whether you’re a fan of Cinco de Mayo, or you prefer dressing in big, showy hats for Kentucky Derby parties: as a craft beer fan, you don’t need to feel neglected as the multitudes sip their mint juleps and margaritas. TheWineBuzz asked some experts how they pair their fare for the Derby and Cinco de Mayo with interesting suds.
Coles 735 Main restaurant in Lexington, Kentucky has an equestrian-themed history. Originally called the Stirrup Cup, the restaurant has an eclectic menu that respects Kentucky cuisine but doesn’t limit itself. Coles General Manager Chris Hutchison’s favorite Derby entrée is burgoo (a stew made with whatever meats and vegetables are available, but typically with pork, chicken or beef – often hickory-smoked – and lima beans, corn and okra). Because burgoo’s not very spicy, he’d pair it with a piquant IPA. He didn’t name names, but this reporter suggests Ballast Point Brewing’s Habanero Sculpin IPA. It’s bright without being overly bitter and the habanero peppers give it a kick without drowning the tropical flavors. Hutchison also adores Derby pie: a chocolate pecan pie made with bourbon. He’d pair it with a thick stout bursting with coffee and cacao flavors. Did someone say, “Pass the Founders Breakfast Stout?”
Food chemist Keri Smith is the head bartender at Doc Crow’s Southern Smokehouse & Raw Bar in Louisville. She knows how molecules interact and some of her favorite reactions on the tongue are “good old crispy fried chicken with a strong IPA like Louisville’s Falls City Hipster Repellant,” she says. Smith riffed on the concept by explaining that hot chicken (fried chicken marinated in seasonings and sauced with a cayenne pepper paste) has taken over in Louisville. With hot chicken, Smith prefers an Imperial Red Ale such as New Albanian Brewing Company’s Elector – something to dampen the fire and fitting for a Presidential election year.
Northeast Ohioans look forward to May 5th at Lopez on Lee. You can always find a vivacious crowd celebrating the Mexican victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla. (It’s a common misconception Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico’s liberation from Spain, but that’s in September.) Famous for its fusion menu that suffuses Southwestern flavors across culinary genres, Lopez offers some traditional Cinco dishes such as their mole chicken enchiladas. (Mole poblano is strongly identified with Puebla.)
Lopez on Lee Bar Manager Brian Spronz thinks Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA is ideal with these enchiladas as “the bitterness of the IPA cools the spice on the palate.” Lopez also offers a sweet potato chile relleno. Spronz suggests a 5 Rabbit Golden Ale to underline the sweetness.
5 Rabbit Brewery is considered one of the original Latin American-inspired craft breweries. Although it’s based in “Xicago,” the brewery’s goal is to showcase Latin culture and cuisine via “the delicious world of craft beer.”
No worries if you don’t want a mint julep with your hot chicken, or a pineapple margarita with your mole poblano. Now you know how to suds up your May game.
For more information: