Stromboli is one of my personal favorites and I have to say I make a pretty darn good one (thanks for the recipe mom). Trust me, it is a big ugly mess, but it tastes awesome. Stromboli is a perfect food for a few reasons: it is relatively easy to make, you can add whatever ingredients you like, and its usually filled with awful, fattening things that taste way better than healthy foods. For this pairing, I again consulted Garrett Oliver’s book “The Brewmaster’s Table.” I used Oliver’s recommendations for pizza since, essentially, stromboli is a folded up pizza. Oliver suggests American Amber Lager, American Pale and Amber Ale, and Oktoberfest Marzen. I took a look at what I had in the fridge and I decided to try two different types of ales, River Horse Special Ale and Ithaca Flower Power IPA. River Horse Special Ale is an American Amber Ale from Lambertville, NJ and Flower Power is an India Pale Ale from Ithaca, NY.
Stromboli (Pepperoni and Cheese)
- Pizza Dough
- Tomato Sauce
- Sliced Mozzarella and Provolone Cheese
- One Egg
Suggested Beer Styles:
- American Amber Lager
- American Pale and Amber Ale
- Oktoberfest Marzen
Making the stromboli isn’t too difficult. You’ll want to start by preheating your oven to 475-500 degrees. While the oven is preheating, stretch out the pizza dough. A little flour will keep the dough from sticking to your cooking surface. You can use a rolling pin to stretch it out or throw it around the kitchen like a real pizza chef. Once you’ve got your dough stretched into a rectangular shape, spread some tomato sauce down the center of the rectangle. You’ll then place a layer of cheese on top of the sauce. I like to alternate the provolone and mozzarella, but you can do it however you like. Next comes the pepperoni and maybe a little more cheese if you’re feeling adventurous. Once all of your ingredients are laid out, fold up the dough kind of like you would fold a burrito. In a bowl, beat one egg and brush the egg wash on top of the dough. Cut a few slits in the top of the dough to keep the stromboli from puffing up too much as it bakes. If by now the oven is preheated, you’re ready to bake the stromboli for 10-15 minutes or until the dough turns golden brown.
River Horse Special Ale – American Amber Ale
I was pretty excited to try River Horse’s Special Ale. I love their Oatmeal Milk Stout and I love their artwork. Special Ale has a 5.5% ABV and is brewed with a variety of specialty malts. When I came across the Special Ale at the store I thought it would be prefect for this kind of pairing. Unfortunately, I couldn’t will myself to like this one.
I’ve been having a hard time coming up with a way to describe Special Ale. It has a hop influenced aroma and pours a very hazy amber. The start is decent and pretty standard for an ale of this type, but the finish was dominated by an unpleasant plastic flavor. I used Brewing in Singapore‘s terminology guide to try to pinpoint the flavor that was turning me off. From what I read, I suppose I would consider the American Amber Ale phenolic.
I feel a little bewildered by this beer. I expected big things and I think the style would pair fairly well with a pizza or stromboli. To River Horse’s defense, Special Ale had the body and hop character to go hold up with and compliment stromboli. This particular River Horse product, however, disappointed me to the point that I’m wondering if I just had a bad bottle. Maybe somewhere down the road I will try it again, but probably not anytime soon. If you have tried Special Ale and feel differently about it please let me know.
Ithaca Flower Power – India Pale Ale (IPA)
I realize I went a little rogue with this choice. India Pale Ales are not specified as a recommendation in Oliver’s chart, but in these pairings I like to give you two separate style options and sometimes you have to look in your fridge and make a decision based on what you’ve got. Ithaca Beer Company’s Flower Power may not be an American Pale Ale, but it is an India Pale Ale brewed in America. It is a clean golden IPA that carries a 7.5% ABV with a very floral, somewhat citrus aroma.
I think Ithaca does a great job with Flower Power in showcasing the floral qualities of the intense hops without overdoing it. Flower Power is one of the ideal IPA’s for me, although I must say Sierra Nevada remains the gold standard. Flower Power is strong, floral, and hoppy without finishing too dry or overpowering. This may be a rant for another day, but too often beers like Flower Power are hopped with an intensity that becomes a gimmick. I don’t think your beer tasting acumen should be based on how heavy a hop flavor you can handle before making a bitter beer face, nor should your viability as a brewery be determined by your ability to produce the most amplified, hoppy IPA in existence. We are talking about beer, not hot sauce.
Good Hop Recommendation – Ithaca Beer Co. Flower Power IPA
I was pleasantly surprised with how well Flower Power paired with my stromboli. I think adding provolone cheese to the stromboli gave it a creamy quality that allowed the flavor of the cheeses to remain on the palate for longer. Due to this intensified, lingering cheese flavor, a beer with an intensified, lingering hop quality matches quite well. IPA’s are full bodied, very hoppy beers that have the potential to overpower food and fill the stomach. I think properly pairing an IPA with a stromboli or pizza is very dependent on the ingredients. If you are only using mozzarella cheese or leaving some of the spicy, flavorful ingredients out, an IPA might not be the right choice. In such situations, I have found that a nice cold lager, Pottsville, PA’s own Yuengling for example, is a milder alternative that tastes great. Ithaca’s Flower Power promises not to be masked by your favorite stromboli or pizza. If you like creamier cheeses or meats and veggies that add a little spice, Flower Power will compliment them quite well.
Tim Meyers (Tim@GoodHopBadHop.com)