In the last few years, more and more food trucks have been popping up and taking food on the road. Large cities on the coasts have the most mobile eateries because of how the active lifestyles fit an on-the-go food option, but customers are starting to get over the initial luster of the new toy.
Comfortable Midwestern towns, on the other hand, haven’t been on the food truck bandwagon for too long. In Columbia, there are only a handful of food trucks, but there’s one that’s elevated itself as the most popular one: the biscuit truck.
Officially named Ozark Mountain Biscuit Company, the biscuit truck takes the idea of home-cooked breakfast on the road. Their menu ranges from what you’d expect (like biscuits and gravy & biscuits with apple butter) to what you’re not surprised to see (pulled pork sandwich with slaw & fried green tomatoes), and it’s all pretty damn delicious.
One of the tastiest menu items they offer is a perfect brunch item: the Chicken Fried Chicken sandwich. Between two halves of a buttermilk biscuit, there’s a fried chicken breast, greens, a soft fried egg, and creamy white gravy. If that’s not one hefty meal, I don’t really know what is.
Despite the name of the business, the main attraction of this sandwich is the chicken. Don’t get me wrong; the biscuit is buttery and slightly overdone, so it its soft in the center with a hard crust on the outside. However, the chicken’s breading is crunchy and fluffy at the same time, and it simply tastes like home with its a strong, yet not overbearing, peppery flavor.
And if that wasn’t enough, there are even more heavy flavors and textures contributing to the sandwich through the greens cooked in bacon fat and the buttermilk gravy. In other words, this is a hefty meal, and the beer I need here needs to lighten things up; also, a high level of carbonation is necessary to help scrub some of these hefty food flavors from my palate. For this reason, I’ve chosen to pair a dunkelweizen with my sandwich.
The less popular cousin of the hefeweizen, the dunkelweizen has a darker malt bill than we typically expect out of a German wheat beer, but it still maintains the characteristic yeast profile with banana and clove notes. Today, the specific dunkelweizen I’ve chosen is Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel, which comes from the oldest, still operating brewery in the world.
As I mentioned above, the malts of a dunkelweizen are darker than that of a hefeweizen, and the exact malt flavors appearing in this beer are light caramel, bread crust, and nutty. It’s these flavors that harmonize beautifully with the chicken’s breading, finding a companion in the sweet fried batter.
Not only that, but the biscuit itself also works nicely with the malts too. Since the biscuit today was a bit browner than normal, there was darker, toasted bread flavors than you’d normally expect. When put against a beer with very similar flavors, the sweetness was enhanced, and the darker malt flavors were highlighted more than normal.
With the increased sweetness, the greens started to pop up. Although the chicken and biscuit really linked up nicely with the sweet malt flavors, the greens were cooked in bacon fat and are served with bacon chunks. This meaty element adds fat that isn’t found anywhere else in the sandwich, but the increased sweetness between the beer and food help to calm the fat from the bacon, keeping it in check.
The two other elements in the sandwich are the gravy and egg, which are the two main reasons why this sandwich is so heavy. They coat the mouth, and momentarily you think you’re never going to be able to swallow your bite. Even after you do clear your mouth, the flavors linger, and the impression of the gravy and runny yolk persist on the tongue. In the pairing, the beer jumps in with its high carbonation, and the bubbles help lift those thick elements off the palate, refresh the mouth, and leave you ready for the next bite.
The main aspect of this beer that I was worried about in the pairing were the heavy banana and clove flavors. However, I shouldn’t have fretted too much. The chicken’s peppery breading helped to balance the clove, essentially matching and negating the flavor altogether. Similarly, the banana flavor was overwhelmed when the malt flavors were enhanced by the flavors in the food, so the fruitiness never once clashed in the pairing.
Although breakfast is one meal many people don’t think about pairing with booze, beer can work well with this type of meal. Indeed, a wheat beer is light enough to not weigh you down too much, and its softer flavors can pair well with the foods served early in the day. Even if you do sleep in a bit and opt for brunch instead, wheat beers with slightly darker malt bills can still be enough to link up with toasted bread and fried food while still keeping it light enough for eggs.