Summer grilling and craft beer: Sweet and spicy grilled lamb with Flying Dog Raging Bitch Belgian IPA

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2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 tablespoons light brown sugar

A pinch of fresh ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

After mixing the ingredients together, I put the two cuts into the marinade, rubbing the spaces into the meat then let them sit for an hour, turning them every fifteen minutes. The rest is easy. Place the lamb in the grill about 5 to 6 inches above the heat for about five minutes each side, or until cooked through. The middle should still be pink. (Remember not to overcook it!) For a side, I opted for a very basic baked potato.

[image-1]The flavors of the lamb and the marinade are an interesting combination, however, and deciding on a beer that will complement -- but not be overpowered -- proved to take some thinking. I know that allspice and cloves, even used modestly, can dominate. I decided on one of the newer releases from Maryland’s Flying Dog Brewery: Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA. My hope was that the Belgian yeast would throw its banana-sweet flavors at the cloves and then follow up with the floral hop finish. And, boy, did it come through for me.

Raging Bitch is the 20th Anniversary release from Flying Dog Brewery, and is listed as an “American IPA augmented with Belgian yeast”. Personally, I didn’t feel like I was drinking an American IPA at all, since the hops were not the dominant factor. It pours a gorgeous rosy-red amber with a generous cream-colored head, and the aroma is earthy and sweet with a touch of the resiny hops added. At the forefront was the Belgian yeast, with the aspects of grapefruit, orange, banana and then cloves. It turned out to be the perfect match to the marinade on the lamb.

With each bite and then subsequent sip, the flavors merged and danced perfectly, none overpowering the other. The cloves were the uniting factor, while the allspice drew out the natural lamb flavor and the lemon juice gave a nod to the citrusy hops of the beer. A slight bitter finish to the Raging Bitch was the perfect ending.

This is a beer worth having on its own, for sure, and this lamb recipe is simple and delicious, but combined, it turned into a summertime culinary treat.

As the summer marches on in Florida, it brings unrelenting heat and thundershowers nearly daily (with little effect on cooling). And yet, we still turn to the grill outside for those long afternoons. For some it is simply a way to avoid heating up the house by turning on the oven or cooking over the stovetop. Others find it quicker and simpler to prepare for the grill. And then there are those of us who just love to grill. Whether it is sausages, burgers, or chicken, we love the flavor the flame and smoke impart. While the previously mentioned get most of the attention, sometimes it is nice to venture out of one’s comfort zone. When I found a recipe for sweet and spicy grilled lamb, I knew I had to try it — and find the right beer to match.

The lamb was very simple: A couple of bone-in shoulder cuts, let them sit in an easy marinade for an hour (recipe of below), and then thrown on the grill. Lamb has a different flavor than beef or pork; it is subtle, juicy and succulent. It is important to remember, though, that since there is not as much fat internally in lamb as there is in beef, you have to count on its natural juices for moisture. Overcooking lamb drains those juices out and with them the best of the flavor. To augment the natural flavors of these tender meat, I chose several complimentary seasonings.

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