Talking beer with George Reisch
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Brewmaster George Reisch literally grew up around beer. A fifth generation brewmaster, Reisch's family operated the Reisch Brewing Co. for 117 years. During his career, he worked for Schlitz and Miller brewing companies before finally finding a home at Anheuser-Busch.
With a brewing pedigree like that, there's no one better than Reisch to talk about the three beers featured at the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival.
Stella Artois, Hoegaarden and Leffe beers have been a part of the festival since the very beginning, and this year, we're pairing these beers with our Fire it up with Chilies cooking demo which will feature chefs Dean Fearing, Charles Phan and Ming Tsai.
"You can't have beer without food, it's impossible," says Reisch, citing a study by the Japanese brewing company, Suntori, which showed that a compound in the cereal grain used to make beer stimulates the appetite.
Pairing beer with food seems blatantly obvious to most, what with the popularity of brewpubs and more recently gastropubs. Reisch points out that during the 1950s, it was common for people to have a beer with a meal, but somewhere along the line, the food component was removed from the equation.
Recognizing that more and more people are starting to cook with beer, Reisch collects recipes like the one below, which he gladly shares with anyone willing to experiment.
"I think we're going to see beers coming back with food," predicts Reisch who noticed the public's growing interest in using beer for cooking. "It makes sense to go to festivals and work with chefs," says Reisch, "and that's one of the reasons why I'm coming out to Hawai‘i Food & Wine festival."
Hoegaarden Butter with Lemon Oil
One thing that we couldn't resist asking was the significance of the Stella Artois chalice, and more importantly, does the shape of the glass effect the taste of beer in the same way that that it does for wine.
"Absolutely," answers Reisch.
Reisch explains that the beer glass styles he favors include the weizen, pilsner, chalice and the decorative (Irish) pint. "You can serve any style of beer from around the world in one of those four shapes"
Weizen glasses out of Bavaria are tall and look very similar to a vase. The glass has a narrow base and flairs out at the top to aid foam retention thus making it easier to smell the beer. Reisch goes on to describe how the Stella Artois chalice is derived from the Belgian monastic traditions of the middle ages, while pilsner glasses are tall and slender because the beer it is meant for is very delicate, so the style of beer dictated the shape of the glass.
When it came to the pint glass, Reisch made it a point to specify that he prefers the decorative pint (Guinness glass) over the American "shaker" pint, which he feels is better suited for making mixed cocktails. The decorative pint is designed with a bowl shape at the top which like the aforementioned glass styles helps with foam retention. However regardless of glass shape, Reisch stresses that beer should not be drank from a can or bottle. He compares it to drinking a fine wine directly from the bottle.
Reisch has an interesting demonstration, which you can watch below, that not only illustrates the importance of drinking beer from a glass, but the proper way to pour.
The correct way to pour beer
George Reisch will be conducting a beer tasting during the Fire it up with Chilies chef demo on Saturday, Sept. 7 at the Hawai‘i Convention Center.