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What Goes With Alligator?

My latest Vue Weekly submission, on newstands now, is, well, different. The wine columnist and I were given the challenge by our editor of pairing our favourite beverage with four exotic and unusual meats: python, alligator, muskox and kangaroo.

I am not kidding.

So I took my best shot at it, suggesting beer that I thought might work best with these unusual flavours. The good news is that almost nobody is going to be in a position to challenge my choices.

Did you know that alligator tastes like chicken? I didn’t. It does, although not quite; it also has pork-like qualities. Who knew it was such a versatile beast. So my suggestions? How about a rauchbier or maybe Alley Kat’s Smoked Porter. Or (and this is my personal favourite idea) Aventinus Weizenbock. Think about it for a second (not that I expect you to spend a moment of your life thinking about what beer goes with alligator) and I think you will agree that its rich maltiness and complex clove and fruit flavours will nicely contrast the quiet alligator-ness of the meat (did I really say that?).

I personally think my suggestions leave the wine person eating my dust, but I gather I am rather biased. I will let you decide. To get all of my suggestions, you are going to have to read the article, which you can find here.

And, in an act of full disclosure, no, I did not taste the meats in question – Vue’s budget ain’t that big and my courage ain’t that fortified. Instead I got a good description of the meat and let my pairing imagination run from there.

5 comments to What Goes With Alligator?

  • Mel

    Well, I don’t know if my suggestions really leave me “eating your dust”! I think we both offered something interesting choices for anyone looking to dabble into the weird and wonderful world of exotic meats.

    • Hi Mel,

      Indeed, I don’t think I did either – just playing to my crowd, you know…

      I thought your picks were quite solid.

      Just curious, did you get a chance to try any of those meats?



  • Mel

    I have tried alligator on a previous occasion, so I was familiar with that taste. As for the other ones, unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to try them. I called Smokin’ Iron and they do sell inexpensive taster packs of all those meats, so I debated on whether or not I should give them a shot. However, ended up backing down – largely because I had no freaking idea how the hell to cook any of them.

  • Me

    To both of you, kind of an irresponsible story to make a whole bunch of suggestions without actually ever having tried the meat, don’t you think? Personally, I think the whole idea of picking “ideal pairings” is a little silly, as it is extremely subjective, and pushes us from being “beer geeks” into the “beer snob” territory, which I’d rather leave to the wine tasters.

    • Nochance (you didn’t provide your real name),

      Thank you for your comment. I can see why you might feel the way you do. But please allow me to try to explain, on behalf of both Mel and I, how we can write the article we did.

      Yes, we didn’t try the meat – which is hardly surprising given their rarity. However, we were provided with a good description of what the meat tasted like, and both of us engaged in our own research about the meat to understand its flavours and texture. We both know our beverages and both have worked hard to learn the principles of food and beer/wine pairing. We applied those principles to the descriptions we were provided and offered our suggestions.

      In no way did either of us suggest these were the “ideal pairings” as you say. We were offering our educated opinion on what would compliment those meats should you ever find yourself eating them. You are free to disagree with our choices.

      Yes, the whole thing is subjective, something I would readily admit. However, I happily put my opinion on the table for people to judge. Where is your opinion? What do you think would work better? I would enjoy reading it.

      Food and beer/wine pairing is a legitimate art. And, yes, I call it an art, for that is what it is. Which means there is room for disparate opinions. Again, what are your suggestions? Discussing which beer goes best with a burger, or chicken, or a Thai salad is a valid effort, and can advance people’s understanding of beer’s complexity and depth. If you cannot see that, I humbly suggest you are missing the point.

      Quite frankly, it is you that are taking this too seriously. Our efforts to offer appropriate pairings do not make us snobs. Taking the whole thing too seriously makes one a snob. I would gently suggest that you need to see the article in the tone it is intended – a slightly playful, informed discussion of how certain meats pair with certain beverages.

      Again, thank you for your comments, and I invite you to offer alternatives to our suggestions as a way to continue a discussion.


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