Pairing Guide: Hanukkah: Beer with the Rabbi. Stone’s Bill Sysak share’s his thoughts

Already the fourth night has come and gone. How has your beer & food celebration progressed?

Like many things on this site, we realized there was some omissions that needed to be corrected. For this Pairing Guide, we forgot to ask ‘experts’ in the fields of food pairing. Case in point Bill Sysak. Known to his friends in the beer community as Dr. Bill, I asked him for some pairing suggestions.

To the uninitiated Ol’ Bill is a Certified Cicerone, or certified expert “.. in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers.” What this means is that if you are sitting at the bar eating Nachos he can probably tell you which beer on draught is best. More to the point if this man shows up at a your four star restaurant, pay attention.

Today, as he has for several years, Bill has remained an employee of Stone, as one of their Craft Beer Ambassadors. This essentially to equates to the man who knows what beers to order for the Bistro and manage the many festivals that Stone sponsors. So we thought if there was someone who’s taste in beer and food, it would be his.

Latkas or Livot (more commonly known as potato pancakes) consist of potatoes, onions, egg, salt, pepper, white, flour, and baking powder. After one fries these little potato beer coasters up, you had better garnish them with sour cream or apple sauce.

Many of my compatriots choose to pair their fried potato dishes such as latkes with a clean crisp pilsner to cut through any residual oiliness, boring. I much prefer other styles of beer.

Beers with a nice malt backbone where the nutty toasty toffee notes play with the crisp browned potatoes and the apple sauce.

  • Scottish Ales (Not Scotch Ale)- MacTarnahan’s Noble Scot
  • Harvest Ales-Laurelwood Pontificating Pilgrim Harvest Ale
  • ESB-Elysian the Wise ESB
  • Of course Stone Levitation Ale will work quite nicely also.

Beef Brisket Anyone that’s gone to the grocery counter or the deli would recognize this meat. This one comes in all different types, but if you have some kosher salt handy and some pale ale or brown, you can take a stab at a marinade.

Beers with a great roasted malt profile, will have the depth to match the Maillard reaction caused from the browning of the brisket. Many styles fit in this category but I recommend these;

  • Dark Bocks-Chuckanut Bock Lager
  • Porters-Snoqualmie Steam Train Porter or Stone Smoked Porter
  • Stouts(nothing too big)-Hopworks Organic Survival Seven Grain Stout
  • Brown Ales-Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar

Donuts (soofganiot to the more familiar). Who wouldn't want a donut early in the morning, drizzled in glaze, sprinkles, or nuts or filled with jelly?

Paul has already listed coffee infused stouts and porters, definitely a good pairing. Coffee and donuts, come on.  Others to try would be beers with a subtle sweetness Belgian style Quads & Strong Ales, along with Winter Warmers & Wee Heavy’s will handle the soofganiots sweetness yet elevate the flavors.

  • Quadruples-Deschutes The Stoic (Unusual Quad)
  • Belgian Strong Ales-Midnight Sun Monk’s Mistress
  • Winter Warmer-Pyramid Snow Cap Ale
  • Wee Heavy-Anacortes Strong Scottish Ale

And finally we added something unique, a cigar pairing. Be honest, if you are you drinking any of these flavorful beers, you aren’t thinking about critically about your health.

Try these before during or after:

Special thanks to “Dr.” Bill Sysak for supplying us with suggestions to help make Hanukkah an enjoyable event for all.


About Bill Sysak & Master Pairings at Stone

Known as "Dr. Bill" in the craft beer community for over 30 years, Bill Sysak is the Craft Beer Ambassador and Certified Cicerone at the Stone Brewing World Bistro & Gardens. Each week he brings you a Master Pairing of Food and Craft Beer over at New Brew Thursday.

About the Cicerone Certification program

The word Cicerone (pronounced sis-uh-rohn) has been chosen to designate those with proven expertise in selecting, acquiring and serving today’s wide range of beers.  The titles “Certified Cicerone®” and “Master Cicerone®” are protected certification trademarks. Only those who have passed the requisite test of knowledge and tasting skill can call themselves a Cicerone. If you want to see the full scope of what a Master Cicerone® should know, click here to see the Master Cicerone® Syllabus.

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