Alright, I know it's Monday, but I am writing this today to prepare you for tomorrow's Taco Tuesday. And to be fair, I made these Saturday, so.... I love tacos, and I love beer, and the two often meet at my house during the dinner hour. Let's take today and talk about both.
First, the tacos: One of my all-time favorite taco personalities is Al Pastor. The spicy-sweet combination of pineapple and chipotle is like a rainbow, and the pot of gold, teaming up to ride a unicorn through a field of freshly sprouted tacos, beautiful and perfect in every way. But, in regards to home-preperation, I have never been able to make Al Pastor with anything that resembles a tasty success. I have tried a few recipes and some improvisation, but they have always fallen flat. Until now. Until this. Until Jeff Mauro and his posted Al Pastor recipe at FoodNetwork.com.
The gist of his goings on are that you prepare a wonderful marinade of pineapple and chipotles and sauce and spices, and let the freshly cut pork swim in it for a couple hours. Then cook it all up. Please, do yourself a (major) favor and check out the recipe and then cook it tomorrow (or tonight, if you just can't wait). Here are my tacos, pre-fold:
The beans and rice on the left were a nice addition, but here and now, we're talking tacos. The pork was tender as all get out. I assume the tenderness was a result of the pineapple juice (and the acids therein) acting as a well placed meat mallet. And the smoky spice sang with the slightly-tart-and-sweet for all-out taco perfection. The onion, cilantro, and Cotija atop played to my sense of tradition and want of sensory delight. Overall I give these tacos a 9.7 (not quite a ten, the tacos probably deserved a ten, but I want to leave room for a theoretical, personal improvement).
But then there's the beer... What's the perfect beer for tacos is a question with a million other questions attached. Not least of which: what kind of tacos are we talking about? So I will address the question of what kind of beer to pair with these tacos Al Pastor.
Hops. Yep, we want hops here. The spicy nature of the chipotle craves a hoppy beer. And we want hops with a natural spiciness in their essence, and then a bit of citrus, to compliment the heat. But we don't want to go too far. A hop bomb is no good here. We want the sweetness of the pineapple in the Al Pastor to remain intact. An IPA, with some American hops, and a strong malt backbone is perfect here. Bitterness hovering around 60 IBU's would be great. And wouldn't you know it, Rewind fits the bill.
The use of Horizon and Willamette hops in Rewind bring the perfect spicy/herbal tones to match the smoky Al Pastor heat, and the gentle addition of Cascades bring the needed touch of citrus to befriend the pineapple (the Horizons help here too). A classically heavy malt bill with Pale, Munich, Special B, Carastan and Maris Otter stand Rewind up, and remind the drinker they made the right beer-choice to pair with these particular tacos. Really, a great beer for a great taco. I'm not sure I have ever matched food, to beer, to my tastebuds, with this kind of pin-point accuracy, ever before. Hopefully you find the same to be true.
Find the beer here, and good luck with the Al Pastor...