Moody Tongue

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Moody Tongue Knows Beer and Food and Food in Beer

July 12, 2017

By Jared Paventi, July 12, 2017

“I think beer works wonderfully in fine dining.”

I was interviewing Christopher Bates, a master sommelier and owner of the best new restaurant in America for 2017, about his fermentation project and the subject turned to food and beer.

“I think beer works really really well in general, especially foods that can be tricky, beer can be beautiful. Everyone loves their cheese and wine idea, but cheese and wine is gross. Unless it's just the perfect selection. Beer is way more appropriate.”

Order the craft beer pairing at his restaurant and you will find beers selected not based on inventory but the menu: seared duck breast paired with a locally brewed milk stout and Dogfish Head’s Fort matched with a cornbread dessert.

Take the concept a step further and you will find beer-chef collaborations, like Brooklyn Brewery’s Blue Apron Brown Ale brewed exclusively for New York icon Per Se. Rogue Beers worked with Masaharu Morimoto to develop a series of Japanese-style beers, including one brewed with soba. Deschutes brews a saison with pink peppercorn, sumac, and lemon verbena developed by Jose Andres called Zarabanda.

Just past that on the beer-food continuum is the Moody Tongue and Jared Rouben’s concept of culinary beer.

Rouben is a Culinary Institute of America graduate, where he started a brewing club on campus, and spent time in kitchens in the Napa Valley. He pressed the reset button on his career and attended the Siebel Institute in Chicago before going to work for Goose Island as the brewmaster at its brewpubs. During his tenure, he created the pub’s Farmers Market series, incorporating herbs and produce purchased from a Lincoln Park market into a weekly beer brewed for the pub. For Rouben, the source and quality of the ingredients was as important as the beer itself.

Culinary beer was born.

The flavors hit you in waves.”

Rouben left Goose Island in 2013 to open Moody Tongue in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood. He began packaging his beers a year later and national distribution followed. I first encountered Moody Tongue during a trip to visit my sister on Long Island when picking up a bottle of its Steeped Emperor’s Lemon Saison. At the base was an above average saison, but Rouben incorporated Rare Tea Cellars’ Emperor’s Lemon tea, to create a farmhouse beer with enhanced citrus, herbal and floral notes, as well as a rich tea bitterness to balance the tart saison.

Complexity is a hallmark of Moody Tongue and the Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter (say that ten times fast) is no different. The flavors hit you in waves: bitter cocoa, candied chocolate and roast roll up on you with hints of cinnamon and caramel throughout.

The flavors and smells mirror one another well, though the chocolates are prominent in the nose. To the eye, you find a magic-marker black beer with a thick beige head that slowly dissipates into a gentle lacing. The alcohol (7.0% alcohol by volume) is felt in this medium-bodied beer but subtly.

It has all of the trappings of a fine dessert beer or a beer you might have for dessert, but don’t restrict yourself. It’s not so sweet that it wouldn’t pair nicely with earthy cheese or cheese grilled meat.

Above all else, Moody Tongue’s Caramelized Chocolate Churro Baltic Porter is a refined beer brewed by a guy passionate about food.

ZX Ventures, a division within AB InBev, is an investor in October
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