Ales, Sails, and Fish Tales

Pairing fish and craft beer, New England style.

jofo2005_mussels_and_beer_298x400_400Instead of merely drinking beer like a fish this summer, why not explore the art of seafood with craft beer? Shellfish, in particular, go well with dry stouts and porters as well as crisper pale ales complementing savory broths and rich batters. You can do this easily at home—read on for a simple recipe—but the best way to see how well beer and seafood go together is to make a journey to a beach town with a brewery.

Get your beer and mussels on!
Recipe: Chef Charlie Redd, Redd’s in Rozzie, MA. Serves 2.

5 lbs. Maine or Canadian mussels, cleaned and scrubbed. Discard any opened mussels that are unresponsive.
One 12 oz. beer of your choice. Chef Redd: “We like Pabst, Henry Weinhard’s, Narragansett, Brooklyn Summer, Samuel Adams Summer Ale, Schlitz, Lone Star, Mayflower Golden… Something crisp and refreshing but no garbage.”
1 thumb-size piece of ginger
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup coconut milk
1 or 2 limes
Thai basil leaves
Cilantro leaves
salt & pepper
Huy Fong Sriracha pepper sauce

Put a shallow pan with cleaned mussels on the grill with 8 oz fresh beer, light or hoppy. Add coconut milk, garlic, and ginger, then close the grill. Cook uncovered so the smoke can mingle with the stew until the mussels are just opening. Add a grate of fresh lime zest, lime juice, torn Thai basil, cilantro leaves, and a 1/4 cup of fresh beer to refresh the flavor. Drizzle with Sriracha chili sauce if you like spice. Check seasoning and add salt and pepper. Serve with more of the beer you cooked with.

Sounds mighty tasty--and it is. Continue reading for travel tips to beery Gloucester, Massachusetts.

New England has beer and seafood in its bones. Early European settlers hauled fish by day and hung out in homebrew taverns by night. Today, not too much has changed. America’s former fishing capital of Gloucester, Massachusetts, was founded in 1642 about an hour from Boston. Once teeming with ships, taverns, and an historic brewery, it’s the down-to-earth setting for the magnificent book and movie The Perfect Storm and makes for a delicious tour. One bite of a fresh, fat lobster roll and fries washed down with crisp pale ale made with locally foraged hops at the award-winning Cape Ann Brewing Co. (founded 2004) and you’ll be hooked. Later take a two-hour sail on the pristine 65’ schooner Thomas E. Lannon in the sleepy harbor, gliding past the Cape Pond Ice factory still supplying the local fleet, a bottle of smooth local Fisherman’s Ale in hand.

What are your favorite beers to drink with fish? Tell us below!

Photo Credit: Jofo2005

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