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Oktoberfest means beer

Friday - 10/14/2011, 3:32pm  ET

Scott Greenberg, special to wtop.com

People are always amazed when I tell them that I really like beer. I know that my moniker, The Vine Guy, suggests otherwise, but my first love before wine was beer. I even brewed my own for several years – until my wife became pregnant with our first child and she had an “adverse” reaction to the smell of the wort. But my love affair with beer continues.

With the onset of Oktoberfest, my beer-roots bubble up to the surface like the head of a perfectly poured lager.

My passion for Oktoberfest is to drive home the point that, just like fine wine, many beers are brewed to be paired with specific types of food. Particularly the beers from the Netherland…

Brewing has been an integral part of life in the village of Hoegaarden, Belgium, since 1318. By the fifteenth century, Begarden monks settled in the area and began brewing Belgian white (or wit) ales. By the end of the nineteenth Century, the village boasted more than 35 breweries, although the town only had 2,000 people. Hoegaarden Witbier, Belgian White Ale boasts a spicy nose, courtesy of real Curaçao orange peel and coriander that are used in the brewing process.

Try pairing with salmon or the classic Belgian-inspired “moules et frites” (mussels with shoestring fried potatoes). ($12/six-pack)

Stella Artois was originally brewed as a special holiday beer, but demand was so high, it eventually became available year round. The lager features a creamy, lemony nose and a crisp-yet-mellow finish. The subtle bitter aftertaste works well with intensely flavored Thai, Asian Fusion and Indian dishes such as curries. The bitterness also helps cut through cream sauces in pastas and contrasts the creaminess of flavorful semi-soft cheeses, such as Havarti and Brie. ($12/six-pack)

The monks of St. Norbert began brewing Leffe beer in 1240 for the community surrounding the Abbey Notre Dame de Leffe. The Leffe Blonde is a fruity and lightly spiced dry ale which features a wonderful balance between bitterness and flavor. Roasted malt results in a nose of roasted nuts and roasted coffee. Delicate flavors of orange blossoms and citrus are noted on the front of the palate while a honeyed finish extends over the back of the tongue and lingers as a subtle aftertaste. Perfect with meat dishes like grilled pork loin or hamburger. ($12/six-pack)

For something brewed a little closer to home, try the deeply amber-colored Samuel Adams Octoberfest, a seasonal lager beer made in the märzen style. Brewed using five different roasts of malt, it has distinctive notes of roasted coffee, caramel and toffee that are nicely balanced by the refreshing hops pm the crisp, bitter finish. A nice match with traditional bratwurst or local half-smokes. ($11/six-pack)

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