I came across a Jambalaya recipe at Cooking and Beer that seemed right up my alley. Normally, I’m not a big fan of Creole-style stews (jambalaya, gumbo, etc), but this recipe used a cream sauce, making it more like a stroganoff than jambalaya. She also used fettuccine in place of rice, which looked great paired with the rich, thick sauce, but I still opted for rice. Another key difference in my recipe – no seafood. This is not a personal preference, but rather, a compromise for others in the house with food allergies. Anyone else live with a person who can sense a can of tuna being opened from across the house and will then shame you for it until you dispose of the can outside? Join my group- we can go out for oysters and not have to deal with being given the stink-eye.
As for which beer to pair, jambalaya can definitely accommodate a lot of different flavors. In this case, the rich and creamy base, as well as the tomatoes, spices, chicken, chorizo, and if you opt for the aquatic – shrimp.
Because there’s so much going on, let’s look at some beers that probably won’t work, before we find out what will. You don’t want something that’s too light. This is still a relatively heavy meal and you want something that will hold up. You don’t want a beer with too much acidity, or one that will be too overbearing. Ideally, you want something that’s big in flavor, but not necessarily in texture.
A couple of options are –
- Saison – One of the best styles for food. The spicy and peppery notes will match up nicely.
- Pale Ale/IPA – An IPA with a solid malt base and a non-aggressive hop presence would probably be best. A light hop presence will help accentuate the spiciness of the dish, and an underlying sweetness will keep it in check.
- Light lager/pils – A clean and crisp light lager will help cool everything down, balance it out, as well as provide a light lemon/citrus character.
I grabbed a few different options from the fridge and (if I was writing a title for a clickbait article) THE RESULTS WILL ASTONISH YOU (they won’t).
1. Ballast Point Even Keel Session IPA – A floral and fruity character. Light bitterness and a decent amount of bready malt. Good carbonation. One of my least favorite Ballast Point’s but works perfectly in this situation. 3.8%
2. Ommegang Glimmerglass – A 5.4% “spring saison” with orange peel and peppercorns – Bready and floral, with a peppery and spicy yeast character. Light tingling peppercorn spice. I enjoyed this one with the dish.
3. Grey Sail Flagship: A 4.9% cream ale – I thought this would be better but it’s not just a very good food beer; most just a hot summer day beer. Was a little too light in body.