Photo courtesy of coronadobrewingcompany.com
Beer pairing is as much an art as a science. There's plenty of conventional wisdom to draw upon for complementary elements, but the reality is that some pairings curiously work better as they clash. So even with my lengthy tenure in this realm, I found myself struggling the other night to answer a simple proposition: What beer would pair best with blood-spattered Japanese kids?
It's not (quite) as horrible as it sounds. I was sitting down to watch Battle Royale for the first time, a Japanese movie set on a deserted island (somewhere deep in the Sea of Suspended Disbelief) where 42 students must kill one another to survive. The promise of that kind of ultraviolence can make a guy pretty parched, so I grabbed a Hoppy Daze, the seasonal Belgian IPA from Coronado Brewing Company, which was likewise an unknown to me.
It's a bright, golden brew that produces a seemingly impenetrable head. Of course, I would have said the same of Oki up until he took that axe to the dome. Streams of carbonation flush through its center like blood from Megumi's carotid artery, delivering a deeply floral and somewhat dank aroma. The flavor is a melange of peaches and grapes, as bright and sharp as Mitsuko's kama blades. The finish abruptly jumps that track and steers it toward Funkytown, offering a more floral tone and a yeasty, somewhat vegetal finale that unfortunately just has no analog in Battle Royale. I was doing so well there for a while, too.
While the pairing was mostly one derived by circumstance, it was a pretty apt one. Just as Battle Royale attempted to merge violent mayhem with teen melodrama (*cough* Hunger Games* cough*), the Hoppy Daze bridges two styles that should practically have little to do with one another. Neither one would ordinarily pique my interest as described, and yet I found myself enjoying them just the same. I wouldn't coin either as a classic, but I'd be happy enough to revisit each again.