Should We All Be Putting Pickles in Our Beer? (Answer: Yes)
You know how an olive in your martini tastes awesome? Or the necessity of a pepperoncini in a Bloody Mary? Those salty, vinegary flavors seriously enhance the flavor of a beverage, somehow becoming more of themselves in the presence of ethanol. So, ready for the next step and inevitable conclusion this summer? Put a pickle in your beer.
Yeah, seriously. Trust us on this one.
Why on earth would you do this? It's a two way street of flavor: both beer and pickles are fermented products, possess a degree of tanginess, and they give a little of themselves to the other. A lighter beer benefits from an extra boost of twang, and the preserved cucumber gets the lightness and crispness of the bubbles and the vigor of the barley and hops. And, obviously, beer and cucumber pickles are both signature exports of the same central European countries often associated with them: Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Austria.
So, should you be tossing full-sour koshers in your craft double IIPA with 120 IBUs? Probably not. But those beers are designed to stand on their own. Instead, try tossing a simple Claussen or locally fermented dill in a Czech-style pale lager, the default style of many major North American macro beers. (Yes, we're talking about your Millers, Coors, Molsons, and Coronas.) It gives a satisfying savory note to something with a pleasant texture, but perhaps a more forgettable flavor.
If you're not convinced, think of it this way: your favorite kimchi or sauerkraut have a bright fizzy texture. The yeasts that make fermentation possible, eat the sugar and create ethanol, lactic acid, and their by-product: carbon dioxide. Meaning… fermented foods are basically already carbonated. Tossing a pickle in your beer simply plays up this dynamic by adding more effervescences to the cukes, and a pleasant saltiness to your beer. It's why nachos and french fries and peanuts have become classic bar food.
How to: Add a Pickle to Beer
Step One. Pour a beer in a glass.
Step Two. Put a pickle in it.
Happy summer, everybody. Enjoy your snack.