Beer’s Great Companion: The Pretzel

Beer and pretzels.  Great combo, classic combo even. I think the dryness of the baked bread and the wetness of the, well, the drink, is what draws them together. This isn’t the podcast Gastropod or Savor though, I’m not going to delve into the history of beer and pretzels, but I can imagine a barkeep thinking he needed something that would soak up some of the beer his customers were consuming.

I’m not going to pretend pretzel necklaces at beer festivals are classy or anything, but I see the appeal. It’s a fun little thing to do, it’s a portable snack, it’s that bar bowl of pretzels but in mobile form. Here’s a picture of me doing just that at a beer festival in Philadelphia back in 2011. 

Ceetar with his Pretzel Necklace and a small beer

Another classic place you get pretzels is, of course, Oktoberfest. Again, I don’t really know the history of this but I do have the suspicious that giant over-sized pretzels ‘Bavarian’ style are a somewhat new occurrence. These are typically a soft pretzel, very doughy, and very delicious. The pretzel has often risen during baking so much it’s actually split the outer shell, much like a well cooked bratwurst might. To continue the trend, here’s a picture of me at Oktoberfest 2012 with a giant pretzel and a liter of amazingly delicious beer. 

Ceetar with half a giant pretzel and a beer at Oktoberfest

And because a few months later I was still basking in the glory of that trip, here’s a piece of the Gingerbread House I made as an ode to the trip.

Gingerbread House of Oktoberfest beer vendor

Snyder’s makes an Oktoberfest style box of pretzels around this time of the year that you can find in stores. It’s nothing like a soft pretzel, though the description does say they let it rise longer to get that airiness. They’re very good pretzels, though they’re crunchy and hard. They’re airy on the inside and flake into pieces when you bite into them. I get a box every year.

 

Here’s a new product I stumbled upon recently. Typically you think of the malt part of beer going well with pretzels. The sweeter, breadier part of the beer right? These guys from Unique are made with malted barley AND hops. That’s cool! That means it’s got grain, yeast, hops and water in the process…which means that these pretzels ARE beer? Blowing my mind right here. sourdough pretzel ring

They’re sourdough so they already lend a little different mouthfeel and a little bit of tanginess that’s different from other pretzels. The hops are surprisingly apparent though. I find often these ‘craft beer ITEM’ purchases are very meh, especially when they’ve got such a gimmicky name. The french fries? Couldn’t tell. These pretzels have a slight hop bite to them though, that taste of the beer foam of an IPA, that slight grassy bitterness that hops give. It took a little getting used to, but once my taste buds adjusted I did really enjoy these.

Pretzels taste good! Who knew?

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