What could possibly be better than a summer night spent with good friends? A summer night spent with good friends, listening to good music, drinking good beer, and eating great food. That’s what could be better. And it’s happening.
I’m headed out to Vienna, Virginia’s own Wolf Trap Center for the Performing Arts with a blanket, and a picnic basket, my listening ears, and maybe even a little Belgian beer. (Life is like this now? Beer on Wednesday night? I’ll take it!)
None other than a Straffe Hendrik Tripel, of course. It’s the only style of Belgian beer I’ve found that pairs — ah, pairs. Yes, pairs. This is why we’ve come together today. I’ll come back to the pairs in a moment. — beautifully a punch and the caress of a summer breeze. This particular Belgian tripel from Brouwerij de Halve Maan boasts an alcohol content around 9 percent AND superior drinkability.
It’s the clear choice for my concert in the park this evening; the Straffe Hendrik strikes this most-perfect chord with a little, or a lot of help from sugar. While northern Virginians everywhere are doing everything they can to shy away from the sweet, white powder, Belgian brewers embrace the use of simple sugars, including cane sugar. Cane sugar, unlike that derived from barley, ferments at a level of 100 percent (!!), which serves to amp up the alcohol and to retain the beer’s light body.
It’s a fun summer beer, the Straffe Hendrik Tripel
And also a beer I recommend drinking with food. A picnic isn’t a picnic without scrumptious eats to go along with our fun, summer Belgian beer.
I’m on a mission to find a few food options that pair perfectly with the Straffe Hendrik Tripel we’re talking along over to Wolf Trap this evening, and in order to do that, I have to consider the flavor elements in the beer itself. A good Belgian tripel is highly carbonated, and the yeast flavor is unique with hints of banana, and apricot, and spiced herbs.
It’s perfect for a picnic:
And cheese, of course. A sweeter, honey glazed ham brings out the sugar in the style, illuminating flavors of syrup and peaches. Mm mm mm. (See also: prosciutto). Pair the ham and your tripel with a ripe, creamy cheese, and you’re in for a treat.
Think roasted Brussels sprouts, and asparagus. With wine, they’re a no go. But the subtle sweetness of a Straffe Hendrik tripel balances the bitterness. Veggies are easy, and healthy, and tasty, too!
I’ve just gotten back from my local Wegmans with grocery bags filled: My friends are simply going to be blown away. Tonight is a night for Belgian beer, and the best charcuterie platter with roasted veggies Wolf Trap’s ever seen.
To borrow a phrase from a neighbor: Bon appetit.