BY JOHN HOLL
For years now, American craft brewers have been trying to sell the idea that beer – not wine — is a more acceptable beverage to be served with dinner, no matter what is on the plate. It's a movement that is gaining traction, with beer dinners routinely held at upscale restaurants around the country and a steady stream of recipes that not only call for beer as an ingredient but also recommend proper pairings.
In most cases, a beer is chosen to compliment the food. Now, the Boston Beer Company has introduced a cut of steak that was designed to compliment their flagship beer, Samuel Adams Boston Lager.
The brewery has partnered with Jake Dickson, a New York-based butcher who goes by the title "artisanal meat purveyor" to bring a new dimension to the age-old tradition of beef and brew. Inside his shop at the Chelsea Market – where some of Manhattan's most fashionable shop and tourists in the know come to browse – Dickson recently explained the cut of beef.Essentially it is the cap to the top sirloin that resembles a leaner New York strip or shell steak, the brewery says.
"It's not overly marbled," said Dickson. "It's not filet mignon either."
This partnership was the next logical step in food and beer pairings, said Grant Wood, a brewer with Sam Adams. As the number of people drinking American craft beer grows, Brewers are looking to expand their offerings beyond what's in the mug.
"I think there is always going to be a place for the logoed tee shirt and pint glass," said Wood. "But people always want a new experience."
Sam Adams contacted Dickson a few months ago with this new experience in mind. A student of beef, he came up with six different cuts that he thought would be the perfect pairing. After several taste tests, this current cut was chosen.
Dickson said he was drawn to this cut because of the intense "beefy" flavor it exhibits and how it plays well with the malt characteristics in Boston Lager. While it will be available at Dickson's shop (orders can be placed in advance by calling (212) 242-2630) the cut can be also reproduced at any butcher shop. Just ask for a three-quarter inch cut from the cap to the top sirloin, leaving the fat cap intact.
Dickson, like most men of meat in the know, recommend the cut be served medium rare. For a good sear, he says to put the steak on the grill for about 15-20 minutes on high with the lid closed. Flip the meat only once and make sure to let it rest for about 8 minutes (or more/less depending on the size of the cut) to let the juices reabsorb into the meat. Slice the meat and don't forget a pint on the side.
Lest you think that a full Samuel Adams line of food items are destined for the neighborhood grocery store, Wood, said it's unlikely.
"We are a brewery first and last," he said. "We're not in the business of selling steaks. But we do like to enhance the experience of the beer."