Brew Blog: Mudbug Beer

Categories: Brew Blog

Mud Bug Beer.jpg
Bring on the mudbugs
Recently, my business unit scheduled a weekend "team building exercise." I know what you're thinking - ropes courses, name tags and "sharing sessions." Nope. My team (god bless them) rolls a little bit differently. We had a crawfish boil. No, we're not hiring.

Our IT staff hosted and cooked for the event, scheduling it over the full course of the day so as to accommodate the odd schedules of our shift-working colleagues. All we had to do was show up, hang out, and eat mud bugs. I decided that some sort of contribution was appropriate, and so told the guy doing the boiling that I would show up with beer for everyone.

A total lack of planning found me at Spec's on the day of the event, trying to decide on an appropriate selection of beers. I quickly settled on an array of lighter-flavored brews. Fuller, more robust bottles seemed like they'd clash with the crawfish. I wanted something crisp and easy-drinking, yet still flavorful enough to stand up to a spicy boil.

Southern Star Bombshell Blonde, Lefthand Good Juju, Oskar Blues Mama's Little Yella Pils, Real Ale Lost Gold IPA, and Saison Dupont found their way into my cart. I figured that would cover an array of tastes, so that everyone could find something they liked.

By the time we showed up to the party, nobody was eating crawfish, anymore. They were all just sitting around drinking Bud Light and trying to have un-awkward backyard conversations. I tried to interest everyone in a beer, but only had one taker. He selected a bottle of Saison Dupont, and declared it the most interesting beer, and one of the best, he'd ever tried. Be thankful for small victories.

It was actually my first time trying Dupont, which is funny since I've been going through a small saison obsession over the last few months. I understand that it's widely considered to be the definition of the style. I suppose I'm drinking backward, then.

Saison Dupont.jpg
Saison Dupont. Consumed later, at home, mudbugless.
Backward or forward, Saison Dupont is an intriguing beer, from the pour to the finish. Cloudy gold and wildly carbonated, it produces a thick, gauzy head of foam that replenishes admirably through the glass. A funky, heady, spicy mix of aromas makes you take notice. Pears and citrus mingle with coriander and pepper. The smell of rising bread is in there, too, along with some dry hay and a little bit of a plastic smell that could get out of hand, yet doesn't.

That last couple of sentences almost make me wonder why I picked this beer for that Bud Light-drinking crowd. Then again, I'm certain that it would have played off the crawfish perfectly. Grassy, grainy, and brightly spicy, with just a touch of sour, it would cut through the fatty-sweet and spicy-hot crawfish while echoing their flavor in some ways as well. For such a bright, punchy beer, it also has significant depth and nuance.

The funk, in particular, is beguiling. I liken the pleasure of the funk here to something I once heard as a description of certain cured meats as being on "the good side of rot." It's not a flavor that you think you'll like. It tastes almost off, but just enough to be really interesting. It sits insinuatingly under the surface, underscoring the other flavors without overwhelming.

The final result, somehow, is a beer that is at once crisp and delicate, and earthy and robust. Perfect for crawfish. I think I just gave myself an excuse to organize a boil. After all, I still have a bunch of beer picked out for just such an occasion.



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19 comments
Team Building Pro
Team Building Pro

I love these sort of team building events, VictorsFood  also offers something a little more relaxing, still challenging, but not for the fitness fanatics and it's great...team building cooking! They are wonderful people, wonderful at getting it all organised and their events are amazing.

SirRon
SirRon

No need to get cute. Abita Amber & Crawfish. I'll admit bias here, but I still think I'd go with a lager with crawfish. Pilsners would work too.

There is no way I'd waste a saison on crawfish. Just saying.

Tylerrhes
Tylerrhes

Where's the hometown love?  No, not Conroe.  Houston = Saint Arnold's.  My pick for crawfish is Summer Pils! Prost!

Jeff
Jeff

Guinness with seafood.  Guinness with /anything/.

John J. Ross
John J. Ross

Next time invite beer drinkers with taste!  Macro beer = yuck

Bruce R
Bruce R

Abita Amber? That's got to be nostalgia talking.  The correct answer is Duvel.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

As it turns out, I didn't! Think about it, though. It would have beena great pairing.

Bruce R
Bruce R

It's like Budweiser, but from Jamaica.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

It was on my list. They seemed fresh out at Spec's, and I was in a hurry.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I was a guest, not the host. Besides, they were providing crawfish. They can drink what they want; I just wanted to be a good guest, and provide some options.

SirRon
SirRon

Can I respectfully (and rhetorically) ask if some of you guys have ever been to a crawfish boil? Or even had crawfish more that a few times? Beer *style* pairings aside, any beer that is much better consumed outside of a bottle is a terrible pair for boiled crawfish. Eating crawfish is a messy proposition. Trust me on the bottle thing. Crawfish boils are outside, so any beer that is better consumed at warmer temperatures is a terrible pair for boiled crawfish. Now consider the three C's of food pairings (cut, compliment, and contrast). I like playing around with the categories, but can we agree we don't want to work in the compliment category for a highly spiced mudbug. Contrast could work to an extent (maybe something with lemony notes), but getting too caught up framing your pair to contrast the boiled crawfish could lead to some bad choices. If you are eating several pounds of spicy crawfish, potatoes, and corn, then the perfect pair needs to cut the spice, cool your mouth, and clean the palate. I'd be looking for something with decent carbonation and something that is good cold out of the bottle. Like I previously mentioned, lagers are the best pair. They aren't the only pair, but they are the best. Some ales brewed with a clean, California ale yeast would work too.

Pair smart, not cute. Just saying.

SirRon
SirRon

Save the saison for after the boil. Unless you are one of those unseasoned crawfish eating Houstonians that I've heard about. It is not a good pair.

SirRon
SirRon

But seriously... I say that respectfully.

The only regretable thing is that we (or I) never gave you props ffor the good post about Saison Dupont. Cheers, and stuff.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

  Thanks for your input. I appreciate how seriously you're taking this.

SirRon
SirRon

It seriously doesn't make sense. But dude, I'll drink anything, and I'm not a snobby rules guy. It is not that the spice "might" overwhelm the beer... it will. Unless you are speaking about unseasoned boiled crawfish. I have no opinion on those. Never had 'em.

Drink hedonistically though. Cheers.

Nicholas L. Hall
Nicholas L. Hall

I was referring specifically to pairing saison with crawfish. I takeit you haven't. While I suppose the spice of the 'dads might overwhelmsome of the subtlety, I still think the flavors themselves would stillwork well together.

SirRon
SirRon

Experience with beer pairings or totally ruining all the flavors of a saison with spicy crawfish?

Saison can be a pretty versatile beer for food pairings, and it is really impressive choice to serve to beer-curious wine drinkers. You can pair it with dishes that will contrast or compliment the flavors you picked up (cheeses, salads, beef... a lot of stuff).

This isn't about staying in the box of the traditional pairing guide. With crawfish, you won't pick up on any of a saison's subtle nuances. It's a waste. While you are at it, open a nice Bordeaux too. {\}

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