Typically most people do not think to pair beer with food, or at the most they pair them with burgers and hot dogs. As beer lovers however, we know beer can be paired with a lot of different foods. I know many sevenpack readers have tried and are on the look out for interesting beer and food pairings, since I have read their personal blog postings on the subject. I already posted about one less then obvious, but great, combination a while back: beer and ice cream. Now I have recently stumbled across another great combination: beer and “raw plate”.
First some people might be wondering what a “raw plate” actually is. A raw plate tends to consist of 8 to 10 clams/oysters of different varieties (typically two of each). There are a ton of different clam and oyster varieties and, much like beer and hops, they all have different tastes and subtleties based on their region and growing conditions.
Due to the clams/oysters rather delicate tastes, one could be inclined to stick with a lighter style of beer in the pairing. Lighter, however, is not always better. Consider the fact there is a style of stout called “Oyster Stout”. This style was originally created because the beers were either made or went well with oysters. I would not go pairing clams/oysters with everything, the delicate and subtle nature of the food definitely has to come into play with the pairing -and the fact clams/oysters are not the cheapest things on the menu, I would not want their tastes to go to waste- but I think there is enough room for experimentation to surprise oneself.
Being summer, I have gone with lighter beers -La Rulles Estivale, and Dupont Foret- and been very pleased with my selections. As a little something extra I tend to add a dash of hot sauce and lemon to the clams/oysters. The intermingling of flavors is excellent and the meal is a wonderful light fare for a summer afternoon or evening.
Unfortunately the raw plate is not a typical menu item at a bar, or if it is on the menu the beer list is rather lacking at the establishment. The beer bars that care about both menus (food and beverage) are your best bet on finding the combination. Fortunately my local bar qualifies as caring about both menus, though the raw plate sells out early most nights. If you can not find a raw plate at any local establishment, you could always try shucking a few clams/oysters, purchased from a local sea food market, at home.
However the combination happens, either out at a restaurant or at home, the beer and raw plate is a great combo, with great room for experimentation.