Should you buy Mom a Beer for Mother’s Day? To some people, this would be a shocking and bizarre suggestion. But think about it. This is the day we celebrate all those good lessons Mom taught us about life and good nutrition. Remember those hard-learned lessons about trying a food before turning your nose up to it?
Beer is food. Liquid bread. The monks brewed it during Lent for sustenance during periods of fast. Seafaring merchants took it on long voyages to keep them safely hydrated and to prevent conditions like malnutrition and scurvy. Before we understood the mysteries of bacteria and water purification, the general population – men, women and children alike – drank beer as an everyday beverage.
Beer is not a drink filled with chemicals and unnatural carbonation like the highly advertised soft drink or sports beverage. A simple review of the ingredients used in the production of beer reveals that this is a natural beverage … the real deal. An agricultural product made up of whole grains, natural yeast (pure Vitamin B), crystal-clear spring water, and field grown hops. Occasionally, a brewer may infuse it with fruits or spices, and those are good for you, too. Mom would insist you try it before you scrunch your nose up, and you should expect no less of Mom. She should practice what she always taught you.
Point out to her the benefits. In the May 2010 issue of Parenting magazine, author Amy Beal reported that, according to a new study, “beer is a significant source of silicon, a key ingredient for the growth and development of bone and connective tissue.” She points out that moderate beer consumption may help fight osteoporosis, and recommends drinking pale ales for the highest source of silicon.
If Mom fears getting a beer belly, point out that a study appearing in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, in conjunction with the National Public Health Institute of Finland and the U.S. National Cancer Institute identified no significant association between beer drinking and a beer belly. The World Health Organization verifies that conclusion, citing that beer belly is caused by diets rich in fat, coupled with more sedate leisure-time activities, including the technology lifestyle and automated transportation.
If she still resists, point out that beer contains vitamin B6. This little gem prevents the body from building up homocysteine, a chemical thought to be linked to an increased risk of heart disease. Beer has a positive effect on HDL cholesterol, the “good cholesterol.” Xanthohumol, a prenylflavonoid derived from hops, guards against certain cancers. If mom chooses a beer she really dislikes, she can use it as a hair rinse, to promote shine and manageability.
Yeast, in addition to being pure vitamin B, does the work of consuming sugar during fermentation and converting it into alcohol and carbon dioxide. During this conversion, aromatics are created that may mimic fresh fruits, lemongrass, spices, and earth. The scope of possibilities will astound her. Aromatherapy has never been more natural.
Take Mom to a pub that is cozy, serves fresh, local food, and has a great beer list. If Mom likes vinaigrette dressings and wine, steer her toward Belgian beers and French ales. Styles such as Lambic, Gueuze, Flemish Red Sour Ales, Saison and Biere de Garde will surprise and delight her. Rodenbach Grand Cru or 2007 Vintage Oak Aged Ale is “the missing link between beer and wine,” and will fully convince Mom that, in the past, she has not been judging beer fairly, but may have been focused on an undeserved “stereotype.” She will question whether you are pulling her leg – teasing her with some alco-beverage that has just been made by Monster. If you have chosen your pub well, there will be several dishes made with beer – cuisine à la bière – specialties such as Belgian White Mussels, Gueuze Sour Cream Dumplings, Vlaamse Reus, and Beeramisu. These types of victuals showcase the delights of Belgian beer, and mirror similar flavors in ales that are well-matched.
Mom may prefer maltier, sweeter beers. If she drinks sweeter soft drinks, you may wish to introduce her to Porter, Milk Stout, Oud Bruin, Scottish Ales, or Doppelbock. These merge best with substantial meats – Stout Glazed Steak, Asian Ginger Beer Ribs, Bock-Braised Pork Shoulder, and Cedar Planked Brisket with Old Chub Chocolate Mole.
For a unique experience, introduce Mom to Orval Trappist Ale. Crafted at Abbaye Notre-Dame d’Orval, Orval is the only beer made at this abbey. Served in an elegant chalice with a clear orange body and creamy eggshell head, it is the epitome of spirit, or goût d’Orval. Match it with Smoky Haystack Omelet, Bacon Wrapped Bluefish, or Wild Salmon with Caramelized Belgian Endive and Almond Piccata.
Is your mother hot and spicy? Or rather, does she prefer hot and spicy foods? Cut the heat with a hoppy beer – an India Pale Ale, Imperial IPA, Extra Special Bitter, or German Pilsener. You may ask for tasters, so she can try a variety, or go full-steam ahead with an elegant 750 ml bottle with cork and cage, wrapped in tissue. The experience will be fun and memorable, and will serve as a conversation piece for years to come.
Photos are (from top): Tyler Smagalski with empty pint glass (mmm, good); Moms Mary Hanisco and Lorraine Clayton; Delectable Beer and Food pairings at Jose Pistolas in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA