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Beer Pairings: River Hill Wine & Spirits Collaboration with Oliver Brewing

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My first recollection of collaborations were some of the fantastic out there brewers at Duclaw back in the day headed to the basement at Pratt street where Oliver Brewing was brewing up their British inspired brews. I’ll refrain from naming names but those were good days for all us beer geeks. When we found out Oliver, now in a big shiny facility worthy of their genius, collaborated with our new favorite liquor store, River Hill Wine & Liquor, we ran, not walked, to get some. Ok we drove, although it is within walking distance, carrying it home would have been not so fun.

Oliver has brewed a fantastic new Hazy IPA for what can only be described as a mini version of Total Wine, right in my backyard. The owner Krishna Patel, is extremely knowledgeable about my drink of choice these days, Napa Cabs, so I was a little surprised to see they commissioned an IPA. Sure they have killer beer selection, but I didn’t know anyone loved both as much as I do.

So let’s talk about this beer. It has a beautiful aroma of hops and citrus. If I had to guess I’d say there was simcoe and citra in there. The malt was as distinct as it should be in a hazy but not overpowering the hops. It’s a dark gold color that is almost opaque (see pictures). The head retention was minimal and made it drinkable quickly despite my lack of a perfect 45 degree pouring angle. It had that slightly creamy mouthfeel you want with a beer this hazy. In short It was exactly what I wanted it to be.

We also grabbed some Five Guys from the new joint down the street from River Hill Wine & Liquor, which was great with the beer. But you know me, I had to organize a full tasting. A little googling research told me that sharp cheddar pairs best with IPAs. I put out an Oregan extra sharp orange cheddar, a New York champagne cheddar, and an Asiago, for a little salt. Due to the citrus smell I also put out lemon bars and I thought hey, why not try some truffle butter too.

The internet was correct and the sharp cheddar was by far the best pairing. The champagne cheddar was too creamy and the Asiago was too salty and both obstructed the beauty that is a hazy IPA. I was wrong about the lemon bar, but boy was I right about the truffle butter. That subtly strong truffle flavor really did wonders with the malt and hops. I realize most people don’t have that just laying around the fridge but I was really glad we did.

I am really excited about this store opening up so close to home. You may have read that picked up some excellent local sours before my sour fest tasting. As I said before, they’re really knowledgeable about their reds. I have very specific tastes and Krishna gave my husband an incredible recommendation for our anniversary, el Coco, and we just split a bottle of another Napa Cab, Burley, for this beautiful day. It worked much better with that creamy cheddar. The staff there is also great, how they know where everything is in there is as impressive as the folks over a Total Wine. I’m trying to branch into Argentinian and Chilean red blends and another employee made great recommendations. Now that she's got Fever Tree Pink Tonic I never need to go anywhere else again!

We often think of beer tastings to be done against other beers rather than with food. When I did my post on IPAs, also from River Hill Wine & Spirits, we used Ledo's, right next door, wings to taste with the beers. But mostly it was just one beer to the next and how they held up to different foods. I would definitely recommend taking a single beer and truly tasting that beer, with food pairings. Think inside and outside of the box. You never know what you’ll get and it's always fun to find a new combo you love like truffle butter on french bread with Hazy IPAs!

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