Sunday, June 19, 2011

Philly Cheese Steak Adventures

...Despite spending at least one drinking session a week at Mr Foley's Cask Ale House, it occurred to me recently that I don't really drink from the fridges. I couldn't explain why; I do in other joints, but that row of pumpclips usually takes up 110% of my attention. At the same time, Dean had been recommending their new Philly Cheese Steak (strips of steak, cheese, bell pepper on a baguette roll) ; crafted lovingly by new-ish chef Tyler Kiley. Fast-forward a few weeks and you've got me and my erstwhile drinking buddy (and wingman on many excursions you may read about on TGS) Chris, and a clear mission; find a match in those fridges for a Philly Cheese Steak Sandwich.
So, we rocked up and took four bottles, with four clearly different styles; Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat, Odell's 5 Barrel Pale Ale, Victory's Prima Pils, and Sierra Nevada's Torpedo. The food arrived, and we got stuck in.

Although Goose Island's 312 Urban Wheat (4,2%abv) was pleasant enough, it faded into nothingness when faced with this kind of food. More a 'Wheaty Pale Ale' than a true Wheat beer in my opinion, it quenched our thirst alright - but did nothing to enhance or cut the food. We finished the 312 quickly; it's such an easy-drinking beer and one I drink a lot of in the Summer. Give me this and a bowl of Calamari or Fried Whitebait laced with Lemon, and I'd be in heaven.

Victory's Prima Pils (5.3%abv) was just weird. It claims to be a 'Pils' but for me hits nowhere near the mark - it's refreshing enough when served cool but has so much flowery hoppiness up-front that it just bulldozes your palate as opposed to the classy, herbal hop attack that good Pilsners or Lagers have. It accompanied the amazing chips well enough, (more on those later) but in this set-up it just didn't work at all. I've enjoyed this on Keg before; but the bottles have just left me cold. Chris agreed, and I actually finished his!

Luckily, Odell's 5-Barrel Pale (5.2%abv) saved the day. Basically a standard, well-brewed US Pale, the sweet, boiled candy-led body matched the cheddar and beef perfectly; the caramelised bell pepper finding perfect bedfellow in this sweet, softly hopped beer. Nothing overpowered; nothing fought for your attention. That's one of the great things about matching beer and food; beer previously thought slightly standard just find another dimension. We sank into our chairs, chatted with Tyler and patted our full bellies.

Sierra Nevada's Torpedo (7.2%abv) rounded things off nicely. Very much a classic US IIPA, it's closeness to the Odell (in layman's terms, a 'hoppier version of') made it an excellent partner; almost a sister to the food and beer. It gave a strong, sweet closing note to the evening. I personally think Torpedo is probably the best overall beer SN have made for some time; a welcome addition to their stable.

The food was great, too. Tyler's a talented chef when it comes to tasty, unfussy bar food packed with flavour. He's finding his feet in the beer world, too, broadening his horizons as he goes when it comes to beers from the UK (he's just started his own blog). At the end of the day, any chef that understands that killer home-made chips are key to any pub's food offering knows his stuff. Do drop by and check out the chips at least; triple-cooked sticks of joy. And if you try the Philly Cheese Steak; go for an Odell 5 Barrel and finish off with a Torpedo. Or don't; go on your own beer and food matching journey and let me know how you get on.


Anonymous said...

A Philly cheese steak should not come with peppers - it should be good steak, bad cheese, in a baguette wrapped up in silver foil. Though I'm an unknowing pedant - the thing that struck me about Philly Cheese Steaks was that the best two places in Philly were right opposite each other so it's kind of like chip shop allegiance over here...

Mark Dredge said...

Delicious! The 5 Barrel is a great beer and sounds like a super match for the food.

Neil, Eating isn't Cheating said...

The chips are awesome!

I had a burger from there and it was pretty immense as well. Loaded high with cheese, bacon, bbq sauce and onion rings!

Tyler certainly knows how to pull off American classics, and he's a nice guy to boot!