Need Experienced Info re Beer with Sashimi/wasabi/soy

Discussion in 'Beer & Food' started by GRG1313, Mar 12, 2013.

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  1. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,471) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Forgive me if this topic has come up before. This is not part of BA I generally follow, despite my interest in food, pairings and cooking.

    I have finally convinced my branch of The International Wine & Food Society to pour beer when appropriate. Suffice it to say that a meal is being planned at a very well known restaurant in Beverly Hills where the first course will be a Chirashi Sashimi Box (and which includes Blue Fin Tuna, Hamachi, Uni, Salmon eggs, Soy gel and Wasabi).

    Clearly, most of the members are going to "soy and wasabi" their fish. Only a few will eat it without.

    Beer has been suggested. Does anyone have any experience serving beer when soy and wasabi is being used?

    I don't want to use Sapporo or a pale ale. I'm a complete snob. I want to use something "better;" I want to use a cool craft beer that will pair well and make everyone even more interested in craft beer.

    I recently went to a very Japanese sushi meal where special fish etc. was flown in from Japan for the meal. In addition to sake and wine, I served the Hitochino 3 Day Ale and the Hitochino Ancient Ale. Everyone flipped. The 3 Day Ale was from my cellar and is now gone. I might be able to still get some Ancient Ale but I'm looking for suggestions from people who have experienced using beer with sashimi (and especially when soy and wasabi is being used.)

    Any ideas?
  2. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (190) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    You want something that is going to balance well with the wasabi. I was thinking some sort of hefeweizen. Not sure what's available in Socal. If you can get it, maybe a Weihenstephaner Hefeweisbier (sp?).
  3. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (190) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Either way, I would go with some sort of wheat beer.
  4. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,471) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Such as?

    The Weihenstephaner Hefe is ubiquitous here in Los Angeles and is far more mainstream than that which I seek. I serve the WH at many of the beer tastings that I do for newbies, clubs and organizations in the same way you might serve a champagne or light white wine before a dinner party. No, while I appreciate the thought, this was not quite what I had in mind.

    Why do you suggest wheat beer in particular? And, which one fits my criteria? Also, what experience have you had with beer pairing with soy and wasabi? I'm seeking info from someone who has tried to make this match up.

    C'mon! I need particulars! lol...
  5. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (190) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Soy and wasabi should not be the dominant flavors in sashimi, but I do understand that some people douse their fish in both. So you want something that will not overpower the taste of the fish, taste bad with soy sauce, and be able to extinguish the heat from wasabi. To me, that's screaming wheat beer.

    It's hard for me to make particular suggestions since we're in completely different markets. I have done some sashimi pairings in the past with Akari Shogun from Half Acre and Dancing Man Wheat from New Glarus. I know for a fact that neither of those are available in LA and if they were easily attainable i would offer to send them your way. How bout doing Lagunitas little sumpin sumpin? The citrus notes should pair nicely with fish. It's hoppy, but not overpowering. Sashimi is very light so you want a beer that feels light and crisp. I think the wheat malt goes nicely with the heat of the wasabi.
  6. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (190) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    Also, I completely forgot that when I was planning a sashimi pairing I really wanted to use Allagash White. I did a test run and it was fantastic. I couldn't find enough bottles to serve it at the time, but I highly recommend it.

    Also I think you're putting too much stress on the soy and wasabi. You need something that is going to work with everything and not just soy and wasabi.
    drtth likes this.
  7. bpgpitt10

    bpgpitt10 Aspirant (287) May 12, 2008 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    My first thought with this was Sorachi Ace. It's readily available, but not something a lot of people pick up to buy. It uses japanese hops so there is a nice story to tell there. It's very light and bubbly which is great for a first course. It has a mild sweetness which will go nicely with the salty soy and the hops are present enough to play with the wasabi in an enjoyable way IMO.

    I think you could find a lot of saisons that fit the bill frankly. Saison Dupont tends to have a solid hop profile with mild funk and a delicate tartness which would be good. I would stay away from ones like Hennepin that are much more "bready" than light and crisp. I wouldn't go too far with the sour or funky side though. It'd be nice to cut through the fatty fish, but I think too much funk and it's just another flavor addition where there are already lots of flavors going on.

    I personally would also stay away from things like Allagash White and traditional hefe's for the same reason. New flavors added to the bunch.
    Soonami and kendrahayes like this.
  8. TMoney2591

    TMoney2591 Poo-Bah (6,693) Apr 21, 2009 Illinois

    Hitachino Nest Weizen (or White Ale...whatever the hell it's called nowadays): fits the need for a tasty wheat beer and has the added distinction of being Japanese...
    drtth and maximthegreat like this.
  9. maximthegreat

    maximthegreat Initiate (190) Feb 13, 2013 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    You see I thought that the flavors of Allagash White were particularly pleasant with the heat of wasabi and didn't seem to overpower anything.

    I'm not a big saison drinker, which is why I didn't make any suggestions there. I wouldn't do anything that has any funk taste. Sour may be nice, but funk may be terrible with raw fish, imo.
  10. smakawhat

    smakawhat Poo-Bah (5,933) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    Go for the Hitachino Witbier, the ginger brew might work out nicely but I've never had it... since ginger is often a palate cleanser between pieces.

    Witbier is a safe bet. Dogfish Namaste is a fave of mine for witbier, Sorachi Ace mentioned already is another great suggestion (yes it's a saison). Ommegang Witte is another. St. Bernadus Wit would be another safe one I would say also.

    Light Lagers could do the trick like Joe's Pilsner, had that with sushi/sashimi and other Japanese food and it worked real well.
  11. queens1130

    queens1130 Initiate (109) Nov 21, 2008 California
    Beer Trader

    My vote also goes to the Hitachino Witbier. Haven't had it in a while but memory tells me that it was light & refreshing on the palate while carrying enough depth of it's own to maybe stand up to bolder flavors like soy sauce and wasabi. Would be very interesting to try the ginger beer version as suggested above, cheers!
    CasanovaCummins likes this.
  12. smakawhat

    smakawhat Poo-Bah (5,933) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    It's also a tough call cause sashimi (and sushi) is so delicate...
  13. ricochet173

    ricochet173 Initiate (184) Jul 6, 2011 Quebec (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Exactly. Every time I see this topic come up I cringe a little inside, though at least nobody suggested an IPA. My take is that perhaps not everything should be paired with beer, nor should everything be paired with wine. The whole point of sushi and sashimi is that the chef uses the absolute best ingredients, then lets them dance like little graceful ballerinas on your taste buds. I would go with water, a very mild green tea, or a high quality sake. I love pairing my food with beer, but this is one of those cases where I feel it would be to the detriment of the meal as a whole.
  14. smakawhat

    smakawhat Poo-Bah (5,933) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    I do love good red wine with maguro sashimi though... but thats just me...
  15. CasanovaCummins

    CasanovaCummins Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2012 Nevada
    Beer Trader

    I would definitely stay away from anything rye or too chocolately. I'd go with a lighter style like a wit beer or a lemony Belgian. I would keep away from stouts, porters and the like and would even try some lighter style IPA's ( No on the DIPA's ).
  16. CasanovaCummins

    CasanovaCummins Initiate (0) Jan 10, 2012 Nevada
    Beer Trader

    Ayone notice how well Japanese beers, even regulars like Kirin, go well with salty foods? Almost as if by design.
  17. HighWine

    HighWine Initiate (146) Dec 11, 2010 Illinois
    Beer Trader

    IPAs pair well with heat and the citrus characteristic of certain hops would blend well with the sashimi. I just had Goose Island IPA with soy/wasabi sushi this week. It was good but I would explorre other IPAs to see how they match up. Revolution Anti-Hero IPA is very hoppy but not too resinious and very drying in the mouth. Fresh Daisy Cutter Pale Ale also comes to mind.

    From what's available in California, you might try one of the Port Brewing IPAs, Stone IPA, or Lagunitas IPA.

    Let me know if you want me to send you a can of Revolution IPA and a Daisy Cutter to sample.
  18. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,471) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Your suggestions are wonderful! I thank you all for your careful and serious analysis and for taking the time to take my request seriously. You have definitely helped me here.
    We will be drinking a premiere grand cru with one of the courses and a very high end Rhone, as well as white Burgundy. This is a very serious wine and food group that has been around for over 50 years. I actually ran it for 30 years and I'm still on the Board and I do a few dinners a year, as well. After the past appetizers (with champagne) and an amuse (for which we'll keep the champage) the first course is as noted. We thought it would be fun to use beer and most of us will not be drowning our sashimi in the soy and wasabi. However, there is definitely a percentage that will.

    Many of the precise beers you mention were on my radar. However, I confess that Allagash White is readily available here and likely would be great. I completely overlooked it and it's a great idea.

    Suffice it to say that your suggestions have been so wonderful that we have tentatively decided to do a "three beer flight" with the sashimi course giving people 3 different (hopefully matching) experiences, as well as the simple opportuntiy to try 3 beers instead of just one. I'm going to initially try at least the Allagash White, the Dupont Avec Les Bon Vieux (one of our members is the distributor of both! Shouldn't be a problem getting,) and a few others, including several wheat beers and I'm going to at least try a very hoppy IPA just to see what it's like.

    I'm also curious about a few other styles and will be experimenting. I'll report back.

    Thank you so much, again, for your thoughtful analysis and generousity. The meal is being planned for April and I, as the "beer consultant" plan on doing at least one test run soon to check out a few of these suggestions. Thanks again.
  19. bpgpitt10

    bpgpitt10 Aspirant (287) May 12, 2008 District of Columbia
    Beer Trader

    Awesome. Keep us posted on the results!
  20. Parrotshake

    Parrotshake Initiate (0) Nov 29, 2008 Australia

    Looking at the thread title I instantly thought Allagash or Hitachino witbiers. But Sorachi Ace is also a fantastic suggestion. And hey, while I'm at it I'll chuck in my $0.02 - Gueuze. Will cut through all the toppings and some of them have those briny notes that just kill with seafood.
    bpgpitt10 likes this.
  21. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,471) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Listen, for me, I'd drink gueuze and/or lambic with ice cream! I drink it with everything. Most of this particular group are "not ready" for a gueuze. I've actually had gueuze and other sours with almost every food profile. It all works for me. Unfortunately, I have to make others happy here. But, great minds think alike!
  22. smakawhat

    smakawhat Poo-Bah (5,933) Mar 18, 2008 Maryland

    Just to throw another wrench in there, Beire Brut (Champagne) would be fun also.
  23. Kopfschuss

    Kopfschuss Initiate (0) Aug 19, 2009 Oregon

    I would suggest a Berliner Weiss, with a preference of Cucumber Berliner Weiss. I recently drank one and could not think of a better beer to pair with sushi.
    queens1130 likes this.
  24. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,471) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    It is my understanding, right or wrong, that Japanese do not drink sake with sashimi.

    We tried and it completely overpowered the fish.

    I'm doing a "test tasting" tonight at Spago with Wolfgang Puck who is preparing our dinner. I'm using many of the suggetions in this threat, many of which mirrored my own thoughts and a few of which were not thought of by me.

    I'll report back!
    queens1130 likes this.
  25. ricochet173

    ricochet173 Initiate (184) Jul 6, 2011 Quebec (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    You are correct. I spent a year in Japan as an English teacher and have never seen sake paired with sushi or sashimi. Typically, only water or green tea is consumed with those dishes and an uppity sushi chef would likely refuse to serve you if you consumed beer while eating. All of the subtle, carefully prepared/chosen flavors would be ruined. Since your sashimi will likely be of very high quality (as it should be), I would advise sticking to water.
  26. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,471) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    I suspect that you are 100% correct! Unfortunately, I have been charged with producing a beer to drink with the dish and I'm likely going with a very light, fresh wheat as so many have indicated above. I have no choice so I'm going to do the best I can. (I've also not yet seen what Wolf is going to prepare. It may be "less than traditional," to say the least. I don't know.

    I WILL report back!

    Huge thanks to all.
  27. ricochet173

    ricochet173 Initiate (184) Jul 6, 2011 Quebec (Canada)
    Beer Trader

    Bleh, sorry, this was posted so long ago that I forgot to re-read the OP. Please ignore me then and carry on (for the record, if you HAVE to have a beer, the wheat isn't a bad call at all; try for something with a bit more carbonation to complement the fattiness and luscious mouth-feel of the fish)
  28. GRG1313

    GRG1313 Poo-Bah (3,471) Jan 15, 2009 California
    Supporter Subscriber Beer Trader

    Thanks to all. First, we did not finish with all of the bottles we wanted to try and I'm going to be tasting several more this weekend. Three of us went through an intial batch of brews that I wanted to try to sort of get "the lay of the land." Spago's sashimi dish that we are having is a modified version of what they have on the menu. Wolfgang is working with us (and having done events for this group periodically for the past 30 years he has a good handle on the group) he actually is amazingly capable at designing a japanese dish. Fish was not fatty and while it had good mouth feel I would also not call it luscious. ("a bit more carbonation" was absolutley not called for and the more carbonated bottles were eliminated immediately).

    The fish was just about the highest grade fish I think I've ever had. Basically tuna and a firm whitefish (sorry! I forgot what it was!! I'll complete this when I remember). There was a touch of fresh ginger on the plate (that none of us used and a dash of fresh scraped wasabi) Suffice it to say it was "rock star" good!

    Like I said, I wanted to try some things, "just to see" the profile and, as expected, some worked and some didn't.

    Orval - man, it's good beer. Not good for sashimi
    Foret - I wanted to try this profile - didn't work and higher in carbonation;
    Hitachino Red Rice Ale - wonderful beer; - didn't work
    * Hitachino White Ale - great match a tie for the number two beer and one that will likely be served.
    * Allegash White - the other two guys thought that this was the best match; it was my second choice.
    * Weiheinstephaner (sp?) Hefe - the number one german beer in the world for a reason - my first choice!
    Weiheinstephaner Crystal - almost as good as Hefe but "just off;" no reason not to use the Hefe in lieu of..
    Sorachi Ace - way too definitive for sashimi; not the right flavor profile at all; too much carbonation;

    * These will probably be served with the sashimi course, unless one (or all) are superceded by a beer in the next batch we taste. We will likely serve 3 small glasses side by side with the course for comparison and variety sake.

    IPA - I separately did a tasting of sashimi with several IPAs. Wow. Plain and simply the wrong style as many of us predicted. So strong you got no taste etc. of the fish. Beer totally dominated and the fish was wasted and superfluous. I knew this would be the case but, I had to try it.

    Oh, big point - I generally like beer at room temperature. That's just me - most of my drinking/tasting friends disagree. For me, more flavor and chance to see what's going on; just a preference. HOWEVER, here, these wheat brews with the sashimi went better chilled OR, believe it or not, after they had really been in the glass a relatively long time - about 20 minutes of air - the match was really the best!

    I have several other bottles I'm going to try in the next couple of days. I'll continue with the report.
  29. Michigan

    Michigan Initiate (0) Oct 24, 2012 Michigan

    This guy. St Bernardus Wit. A 6% Witbier brewed by St. Bernardus for their brewpub in Tokyo, Japan.
  30. JesseMurdock

    JesseMurdock Initiate (0) Apr 14, 2013 Hawaii

    Too late I know but I'm surprised nobody recommended a Pilsner. Not one of my favorite styles ordinarily but it seems like it would go nicely with chirashi sushi. The cool, refreshing fizz would be a nice palate cleanser from the wasabi. The bitterness would help counter the wasabi. The light body and clean finish would allow the fish to hold up nicely.
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