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Pairs: Beer & Belgian cuisine

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Belgian-born chef Klaas Claes and beverage director Matt Gebhard, both of New York’s BXL East, pair some of the best American-made, Belgian-style beers with classic Belgian dishes.

Belgian Waffles & Ommegang Abbey Ale

Top these crispy waffles with sliced strawberries, rich chocolate sauce and dollops of silky cream, and Ommegang’s velvety brew fuses with the cream and chocolate, trapping all of the sweet flavors on the tongue. The luscious brew’s dark cherries and figs draw out the strawberries, lending tart fruitiness to the chocolate-doused dish. “Abbey Ale’s bit of caramel complements the sweetness of the waffle,” says Gebhard, while its allspice and clove notes add warm spice to a mouthful of sweetness. ALSO TRY: New Belgium Abbey, Sierra Nevada Ovila Abbey Dubbel

Frites with Sauce Andalouse & Michigan Celis White

Crispy, thick-cut fries are tasty when smothered in andalouse (a mayo-based condiment with kicky paprika, roasted pimento and tomato paste), and even better served with a Belgian-style wit. “A witbier is light enough not to overpower the simplicity of the fries, and adds a softening sensation to the slightly spicy sauce,” says Claes. While the beer’s coriander connects with the paprika, its vibrant orange and lemon peel flavors brighten the andalouse; spritzy carbonation and a wheat twang usher each rich bite off the tongue. ALSO TRY: The Lost Abbey Witch’s Wit, Southampton Double White Ale

Carrot-Bacon Stoemp & Goose Island Matilda

Claes says a fruity Belgian pale ale elevates the sweet tones of this filling side dish. Creamy potatoes and carrots merge seamlessly in this puréed plate, while bacon adds a salty, meaty kick. Matilda’s sugary sweetness and bright lemon embolden the carrot sweetness, but still let the salty bacon shine. The beer’s vibrant carbonation lifts the thick, buttery flavors from the mouth. ALSO TRY: Smuttynose Star Island Single, Harpoon Belgian Pale Ale

Boudin Blanc & Stillwater Stateside Saison

This classic pork sausage infused with clove, garlic and white pepper connects with a saison’s similarly rustic flavors. A wash of the saison weaves likeminded pepper and clove through the crispy-cased sausage, while its soft lemon and orange flavors brighten the earthy bite, Gebhard says. The beer’s doughy malt flavors and a hint of funk add pastoral accents to the dish’s pungent flavors, while lively carbonation provides respite between bites. ALSO TRY: Pretty Things Jack D’or, North Coast Le Merle

Moules Grand Mere & Allagash Tripel

According to Claes, a Belgian-style tripel turns a pot of briny mussels, salty bacon, pungent onions and creamy broth into a harmonious meal. The beer’s sugary sweetness and candied lemon sing the high note, pushing back against the dish’s saltiness, while its clovelike yeast adds spiciness to the broth, connecting it with the onions. Floral hops weave whimsical botanicals through the dish before effervescence carries the low note—the beer’s bitter bite—that leaves the mouth ting-ling dry. ALSO TRY: Sly Fox Incubus, Thirsty Dog Cerberus

 

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