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Here’s Heat in your Beer

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Rogue PicmonkeyBy Dan Clarke

February 3, 2016 - Combining hot sauce and stout seemed like an idea that would be suggested by a man who’d been drinking. Perhaps drinking a lot.

Putting together elements which are wonderful on their own doesn’t necessarily yield a whole that would be greater than the sum of its parts. Still, a stout from Rogue Ales infused with Sriracha Hot Sauce, bizarre as it sounded, was such an intriguing prospect that I decided to try it (I was sober at the time).

The brewery says that “Sriracha Hot Stout shines when paired with food and when used for cooking.” What to do? I had scored some boneless pork ribs at a good price and planned to grill them Sunday afternoon. Maybe I could incorporate some of this hot stout in a marinade.

Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce is produced in Southern California by Huy Fong Foods, a company started by a Vietnamese immigrant. In recent years its red bottle with green-cap and rooster logo has become a familiar sight on restaurant tables and on grocery shelves. Rogue Ales brews and distills in Newport, Oregon and traces its history back to 1988.

I was still wondering what to do with the bottle labeled “Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer” when I mentioned it to the manager of a craft beer bar. He had tried it, he said. Well, what did it taste like? “Like you poured hot sauce in a glass of stout” he replied. This was not encouraging, but when I said the brewery suggested it could be used as a marinade or in cooking, he opined that might be the way to go.

Pouring hot sauce into a glass of stout didn’t sound like an idea I’d ever have come up with, but I like to be surprised. Sometimes it works out well. Like the time when I’d gone with friends to an Irish seaside village for oysters. One of my hosts was buying the first round of drinks and asked what I’d have. In California I’d have gone for a Sauvignon Blanc or maybe a dry Chenin Blanc, but given the location I said—rather tentatively—“Is there any Muscadet or maybe a Sancerre?” There was just a moment’s hesitation, but he said he’d check with the barman. Not wanting to be a bother, I said, “Well, what do you guys drink with your oysters?” Turns out they all chose Guinness. There were many drink options available, but this was what the locals preferred with their oysters. Well, when in Carlingford . . .

That Guinness and oyster pairing was delightful, but hot sauce in stout still didn’t seem like a sure bet. I decided to pour a glass of this stuff and use the rest to marinate some of my pork. I enjoy using wine and beer in recipes and actually have had some experience using stout in cooking. Employing it as a marinade seemed to have the greater potential than just drinking this chili-infused brew.

I poured a glass of the Rogue Sriracha Hot Stout Beer. It tasted like stout with hot sauce. That was undeniable, but it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I returned to the glass about 10-15 minutes later. I could taste the heat at the front end against a background of cocoa and milk chocolate. The taste finished with a lingering hot sauce flavor. Thirty minutes after pouring, a taste produced much the same experience. Returning to the glass about an hour after it was poured there seemed a little bitterness with more of something akin to heat, spice and a little burn on the finish.

Not wanting to risk my entire package of pork on this experiment, I prepared a more standard marinade for the pork (olive oil, minced garlic and fresh ginger, a little soy sauce, the juice of one orange and lots of coarsely-ground black pepper) about five hours before it was to go on the fire. I put all of the pork in this mixture and about three hours later removed a couple of large chunks to finish in a bath of Rogue Sriracha Stout. All the meat was grilled over charcoal. The pieces receiving a couple hours of time in the hot beer overrode the basic marinade and definitely showed some of the hot sauce personality (Not wanting to overwhelm more timid palates, I may have thwarted the full effect of this hot beer by not using it as the exclusive marinade and not leaving the pork in it in for longer than two hours). Actually, both treatments of pork tasted pretty good. I’ll try this chili-infused beer again—maybe with chicken—in a preparation that may showcase both the stout and the Sriracha sauce. It will be my marinade. My beverage that day will more likely be a bottle of lager.

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