Grilled Elk Loin: 3 Pairings

Table Mates by | Feb 2016 | Issue #109
Photo by Kris Maz

During winter in Wisconsin, folks hunker down and lean toward heartier meals and beer. A brewery and restaurant with locations in Green Bay and Milwaukee, Hinterland’s menu reflects the seasons. In the colder months, caramelized root vegetables and seasonal greens and grains dominate the landscape. With this in mind, chef Kelly Qualley created a wood-fired grilled elk loin with hedgehog mushrooms, baby carrots, winter grains, flowering kale, bourbon cherries and a foie gras emulsion. Hinterland owner and brewer Bill Tressler pairs the dish with beers that mimic Wisconsin’s long, dark nights.

Luna Coffee Stout | 5.8% ABV
Hinterland Brewery
Nuances of dark chocolate and bright coffee flavors bring caramelized onions, carrots and mushrooms to life in this dish. The semi-astringent roasted barley provides the necessary structure to stand up to the char and earthiness of wood-fired grilled elk. The silky, mouth-coating texture and rich butteriness of the foie gras emulsion is the glue that binds this pairing, highlighting each component of the beer and the dish.

Stovepipe Bourbon Barrel Imperial Stout | 9.4% ABV
Hinterland Brewery
With this pairing, the winter grains take on a malty characteristic, while the caramelized onions, baby carrots and foie gras emulsion taste sweeter and more buttery, balancing Stovepipe’s heat. The elk’s char and herbaceousness becomes an explosion of melanoidin when paired with this Imperial Stout. Serving as the perfect complement to the beer’s boozy character, bourbon-soaked cherries are literally the cherry on top.

Perky Porter | 6.6% ABV
Stillmank Brewing Company
Although chef Qualley decided to forego the coffee rub initially planned for this dish, coffee still pairs well. Like the Luna Stout, Perky Porter has subtle notes of cold brewed coffee, chocolate, roasted barley and even malted milk balls. Alongside the grilled elk loin, it’s rich and decadent without dominating the meat’s savory flavor. The beer also brings an almost milk chocolate-like character to the foie gras emulsion.