Thursday, April 8, 2010

"X" is for eXceptional Beer Marinade to Pair with Wine

Summer may be around the corner, but barbecue season is in full swing!

This past weekend my husband and I headed to my mom and dad’s house for a barbecue. My brother Bret and his family joined us.

Bret is as proficient with the barbecue as I am with my oven. As my dad puts it, “That boy can barbecue!” So, when dining at mom and dad’s home, Bret is always designated grill master.

Bret also brought with him a tub of rib eye steaks that he said had been marinating for a few hours in his refrigerator. I asked him about the marinade, and he told me that it was made from beer. Bret is as proficient with using beer in his cooking, as I am, wine.

In fact, I sat and watched him barbecue the steaks, hoping to pick up a few tips. Barbecuing appears to be an effortless affair for Bret. He holds a can of Canadian beer in one hand, and with the other, swings the tongs back and forth and up and down as though he is conducting a symphony.

At one point Bret jerked his arm forward, spraying beer from the can over the steaks. They sizzled. Smoke bellowed from the grill. I asked him if he had added more beer to flavour and tenderize the flesh.

Bret replied, “No. I’m putting out the flames.”

As a wine lover, I rarely use beer in my cooking, unless making a batter for deep fried fish or shrimp. I was curious as to how the taste of beer in the grilled steaks would taste with the flavours of red wine.

The steaks were delicious -- tender and juicy and highly flavourful.

The beer marinade obviously tenderized the meat while adding the taste sensation of bitterness to the steaks. Hops are the primary source of bitterness in beer. Red wine also possesses bitterness that derives from tannin. So the beer marinade and red wine harmonized in taste sensations.

This marinade also possesses flavour sensations that complements red wine, as well.
Bret’s beer marinade is a great match for big, red wines with weight and structure.

Paxton Jones Block 2005 Shiraz, McLaren Vale, Australia, (CSPC # 149914), $26.95 is a good choice. This is an exceptional Shiraz, the aromas swirling with ripe black berries and black peppercorns. The full-bodied palate offers flavours of raisins and leather, supported by excellent structure, medium tannin and a black pepper corn finish. This wine will certainly complement steaks done in Bret's marinade.

Paxton Jones Block is a member of ‘1% For the Planet Organization ( This organization’s mission is to build and support an alliance of businesses financially committed to creating a healthy planet. All members donate 1% of their profits to environmental groups around the globe each year. If you choose wines not only for their taste, but also for their social consciousness, you may want to explore other wineries committed to this same mission. Other wineries that belong to this organization in California include Sterling Vineyards, Spottswoode Winery, Shypoke Vineyard, Paradigm Winery, Oakville Ranch Vineyards, Hess Collection Winery, Grassi Wine Company and Ceritas Wines. Odisseia Wines in Portugal, Paxton Wines in Australia, Constant Jomini in Switzerland and Dosnon Champagne in France also belong to ‘!% For the Planet.’

The 14.5 percent alcohol gives Paxton Jones Block Shiraz much viscosity, making it ideal for heavier proteins like steak.

Here is the recipe:

Bret’s Beer Marinade

For Four Rib Eye Steaks

Three quarters cup of Canadian beer
One cup of Kraft Signature Roasted Garlic and Fine Herb Dressing
One package of Club House La Grille Seasoning Mesquite Marinade
Four rib eye steaks

In a large glass baking dish combine all ingredients. Whisk together. Set steaks in dish. Cover with plastic wrap. Set in refrigerator for about four hours, turning steaks over at beginning of second hour. When ready to grill, remove steaks from marinade. Throw out remaining marinade. Grill steaks to desired doneness.

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