THE EDITOR’S DESK :: A New Shot & Beer – Move Over Patron?

by Harvey Gold on August 23, 2012

Dateline Sunday, Aug. 19th: A surprise belated birthday celebration was mounted for the Dolli Momma by her three faeries, with a co-theme of The Outer Banks and “what would Dolli like to eat?” As direct nods to OBX, along with the faux lighthouses and kites mounted in trees, there were mussels, shrimp steamed in Old Bay and homemade hush puppies leading the charge for those longed-for beach days. From-scratch almond-vanilla cupcakes with a fresh red raspberry frosting and Carolina pulled pork (with both the good vinegar-based and red BBQ sauces on hand) and slaw brought up the rear as dishes “mom would love.”

By the time this came to pass, having spent 3 ½ hours getting her out of the house by shopping at the wonderful West Side Market in Cleveland, buying all sorts of great, fresh stuff in the form of T-Bones, fresh ground chorizo and lamb, beautiful cilantro and kale, creamy smoked gouda, and a fine Italian sausage sandwich for breakfast, I was ready for a little refreshment.

Friends with whom we often share the joys of Patron Silver tequila were over the previous weekend and brought a new discovery, Espolòn Tequila Blanco, along with the claim that it was as good as Patron and cost almost half as much. This, of course, would be great news. I tried it and and found that I liked it much. It’s tasty, warm, very smooth and clean, bringing forth a nice agave flavor. So I decided, with my party pants on, I’d try it again in an infamous shot-and-a-beer combo.

Back in July, I posted the following on our YourBeerNetwork facebook page:

Fourth of July check out: Pyramid “Outburst” Imperial IPA.

Might this dry hopped Imperial IPA go well with some spicy BBQ, chopped onions, coney sauce and, for me of course, the big dollop of hot sauce on whatever we have?

The pour: Head and lacing were all fine and expected for an IPA.

The nose, however, was not standard fare IPA. Floral, yes, but with a rounder fruitiness. We were thinking apricot, then upon sipping, the nose became even more clearly that of (dried?) apricots, with a bready component. As time went on the fruitiness became even more pronounced.

The first sip into a mouth that had just munched some pita chips with sea salt was a little sour, oddly. I would’ve thought the sweetness of the brew would have jumped out, but it didn’t, as while the malt rounded out the middle of the mouth feel, that and the yeast didn’t really bring forth any of the sugars, thus, in reality, playing their proper roles in an good, hoppy, IPA. As the tasting progressed, in addition to feeling the 8.5% ABV, as it warmed just a touch, a piny hops vapor snuck up the nose.

This is a very good IPA folks and will sit well with the July 4th eats. Take a minute, let it find it’s temperature and air, and you’ll, in turn, find a story here. Recommended.

So it was to be, the latest YBN Shot and a Beer! We’ve written about this sort of pairing a few times now. In a case such as this, the shot being tequila, the citrus and bite of the IPA serving as a great replacement for the traditional salt and lemon approach. For my money, a far better way to go.

I sat down with a perfect pulled pork sandwich. In the pic, an obscene number of Old Bay shrimp are hidden under the chips. I then hit the shot of Espolòn, which went down so very smoothly and was delicious. I followed it with the Pyramid, and it tasted every bit as good as described above, but in this case, the first hit was a grapefruity citrus, clearly as a reaction by a complex hop component to the agave, as I tasted nothing like this when I first tried this Imperial IPA in July.

But here’s where the surprise came in. Part of this experiment was evaluating how the Espolòn fared in such a pairing where Patron had served as the tequila. When doing Patron and IPA pairings, what stood out was the roller coaster of flavors. The Patron crashed in with its rich flavor and bite. The IPA washed over it, the bitter and citrus spectacularly cutting through, instantly cooling the mouth, only to have then, the heat and presence of the tequilla come rolling back up behind it. Kind of thrilling, actually.

With the Espolòn, it was half the ride. It is seemingly as flavorful and delicious as the Patron, and may actually be preferable to some, as it’s a more mellow drink with less bite to it. So the shot was great, the extinguishing of it truly pleasurable with the Victory “Outburst”… and then the story of that sip came to an end with the fine bitterness of the beer. The tequila was finished. This was a case where the big bad footprint of the Patron was the winner, the Espolòn not returning, as did the Patron, for a curtain call. Ending each sip with the bracing and crisp Victory is not a bad thing, by any means, but it simply isn’t the trip to the amusement park experience I take such delight in.

That being said, for shots, for mixing, for just about anything else you might want to do with a nice tequila, the Espolòn is a fabulous value. And it has that great Dia de los Muertos label, so how can you lose? Olé!

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