Eat + Drink This, Episode 1: Szechuan Peanuts + Meantime Coffee Porter

In addition to our normal stories and interviews we’ve decided to share something we’re obviously crazy about – food and drink pairings. We run a beer snack company that is dedicated to this concept, but to tell you the truth, we like all kinds of food & drink pairings – from cookies and milk to bourbon and BBQ.

We’re easing into this by discussing our own Szechuan Peanuts and pairing it with a beer we’re particularly fond of, Meantime Coffee Porter.

What inspired this pairing was actually an early morning of roasting our peanuts and drinking coffee. We thought, “damn, these Szechuan Peanuts go pretty well with coffee.” Not a complete shocker, but caught us off guard in the early morning hours.

It’s fall in Chicago – let’s talk about Porter. Porter has a pretty interesting history that we’re not going to get into here. And what’s funny is that even a beer expert like Randy Mosher describes porters as “represent(ing) a fairly wide range of dark brown beers without any well-defined substyles. Some even encroach on stout territory.”

So, like many beers, there is a wide range in flavor, but to me, I think of roasty maltiness and a bit of creamy toastiness…maybe some hops. It’s dark and is frickin’ awesome in the winter.

Meantime Coffee Porter was introduced to me by my buddy Adam, who works for an importer of beers and knows way, way more than I do about beer. I have had coffee porters before, none of which seemed as good as this one. I enjoy this particular brew because the coffee is not overwhelming and seems to blend in more with the flavors of a porter than shout COFFEE.

The foods that typically go really well with this style of beer are roasted and smoked foods/meats, as well as chocolate desserts. The coffee flavors helps accentuate most of those types of pairings as well. The roasted flavors in the food & drink mimic each other – similar flavors are often one easy way to look at pairings. I would also suggest that the roasted malt balances and mimics the umami of meat and in our case, soy sauce.

Which brings me to our food. The Szechuan Peanuts from Bee’s Knees Food Co. are Asian-inspired peanuts that have deep flavors of soy sauce and sesame oil. Its saltiness is balanced by a good amount of sweetness from sugar. Plus there’s a bit of a spicy kick from Sriracha and spicy peppers.

Again, you’ve got a good amount of matched roasted flavor in both the beer (roasted malts and roasted coffee flavors) and roasted peanuts. The umami of the soy sauce is balancing out with the roasted malts as well. The spice of the snack is mellowed by the maltiness in the Meantime Coffee Porter. Summed up, you have a lot of complimentary flavors going on with this pairing.

If you get a chance to try either the Meantime Coffee Porter or the Szechuan flavored peanuts, please do. If you get a chance to try them together, even better.

If you have pairings that you swear by, let us know – we’d love to hear about it and maybe we’ll even try it in our Eat + Drink This.

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Randy Mosher’s quote from “Tasting Beer: An Insider’s Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink”


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