Monkey Paw brews up a beer for Hillcrest farm-to-tablers
Of late, I’ve been writing a lot about breweries crafting beers for specific bars and restaurants. Typically, the impetus for this is a venue’s anniversary, but in the case of this week’s featured San Diego craft beer, it was mutual respect between Barry Braden, the co-owner of farm-to-table eatery Local Habit (3827 Fifth Avenue, Hillcrest) and Scot Blair, the owner of the East Village’s Monkey Paw Pub & Brewery.
Blair is such a fan of Braden’s restaurant and its classic Southern done with local ingredients fare that he worked with Monkey Paw brewmaster Derek Freese to come up with a beer that would fit right in with Local Habit chef Nick Brune’s down-home offerings. Such was the genesis for the Sweat Tea Session IPA, an India pale ale built to mimic the look, scent, and taste of the deep South’s staple libation.
Blair and Freese turned to a variety of hop called Sorachi Ace to bring out most of the trademark flavors they were looking to bring out in the beer and it worked beautifully. Naturally citrusy, the hops produce lemony scents and a bit of tartness on the palate. Much as with actual iced tea, that acidity helps to balance out strong earthily bitter notes that come across tasting very much like tea.
Sweet Tea IPA debuted during Local Habit’s Mardi Gras beer-pairing dinner this Tuesday and Braden figures he has enough on-hand that it should remain available for the next three-to-four weeks. At the dinner, it was paired with fried frog's legs with a remoulade sauce. When polled, it was the favorite food-and-beer marriage of the evening. Having the beer with other fried or spicy dishes should make for an equally enjoyable pairing.