Thursday, May 14, 2015

Screamin’ Sicilian Pizza challenge me to do beer pairings!

Screamin' Sicilian enters Ale's house with pizzas!
 What’s up fellow craft beer lovers?!

What's up fellow craft beer sippers?!

It’s no mystery that I love doing a lot of creative things with craft brews from all over the world, from doing tastings with celebs and shot callers, to hosting and curating beer dinners to name a few. Well lucky for me, a well-respected pizza company with a killer marketing campaign called Screamin’Sicilian got word of my fondness to pair ales and lagers with virtually anything fare-wise, so they offered me an intriguing challenge: Pair brews with a few of their circular creations.
Now I do love pizza, but I try to chill on the dairy and meat as much as possible. However, when I read how this Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based company takes pride in using high-quality, locally-sourced ingredients including their signature stone-fired crust serving as the base, plus they truly respect the beer industry (check out their website), I was in.
One of the coolest things about this pizza maker is when you go to their site, they have a “Pizza Finder” where you simply type in your zip code and boom! The freezer section at a Publix two blocks away had their prominent and extra fly packaging—a thick-mustached, gaping mouth serving as a window to what the toppings of each of their pies looked like. Again, Sicilian’s witty descriptions and slick packaging kill it, so they already scored points on that alone; I majored in marketing so there ya go.
Anyway, using some coupons the company provided, I grabbed some pies, invited a few gourmands to my pad, scooped a few brews from Hop City along with a few bottles from my extensive stash that I thought would pair well with them, and we threw down! (Note: I primarily chose beers that are pretty much available nationwide to help ya out no matter where you are.)
Below, I have the three pizzas we baked, and the brews that won top honors to pair with each one. Check it out:

Screamin’ Sicilian’s Bessie’s Revenge

Their description: We begin crafting Bessie’s Revenge, a monument to cheesiness, by starting at the bottom – a.k.a. our unique, stone-fired artisan crust. Each crust is perfect in its imperfection serving as the ideal host to copious amounts of our zesty secret-recipe sauce. And let’s talk sauce. Ours is made lovingly with vine ripened tomatoes that have been kissed by the sun. We then drown those tomatoes in ridiculous amounts of shredded Wisconsin mozzarella and white cheddar and add slices of freshly cut Wisconsin buffalo-style mozzarella cheese gathered from the finest purveyors in America’s Dairyland. These people know cheese!
Then just when you think we’ve gone too far, we finish it off with a gentle kiss of grated aged Parmesan and Romano cheeses from — you guessed it — WISCONSIN.
My Beer: I started with this all-cheese joint, and their description was truly on point. To cut through all that richness, balance the salty element with some sweet, and get everyone’s buzz on early, the Victory Golden Monkey Belgian-Style Tripel at 9.5 percent ABV hit the spot! It’s effervescent texture scrubbed the tongue, and the Monkey’s fruity, yet spicy profile perfectly paired with this pie that was pretty damn delicious. Victory’s more hoppy Prima Pils at 5.3 percent came in second.

Screamin’ Sicilian’s Mambo Italiano

Their description: This is the pizza to take with you when you’re going to the mattresses. We call it the Mambo Italiano. Our thick and chunky secret-recipe, small-batch tomato sauce rides shotgun on a stone-fired artisan crust. And, that crust is made from individually rolled tender balls of dough to create a foundation that could bring Mama to tears. Then we “badda bing, badda boom” this pie with ridiculous amounts of whole milk mozzarella smuggled in, excuse me I mean purchased, from Wisconsin. We know people in the cheese business if you know what I mean. Before you even know what hit you, we pull out the big guns – rough-chopped, thick-cut pepperoni and huge, mouthwatering Italian meatballs that throw a bag over your taste buds and go to town on them.

My beers: With so much going on this pizza, I approached this two ways—provide a beer that solely refreshes and doesn’t complicate things—or go to the extreme and pour something to make it a truly explosive, complex tasting experience. With that, I chose the Atlanta-based SweetWater 420 West Extra Pale Ale (5.7 percent) and the Ballast Point Sculpin Habanero India PaleAle (7 percent). 
As I suspected, half of the crew went with the 420 because of its easy drinkability, subtle hoppiness, and crisp finish didn’t overwhelm the pizza’s meat, cheese, and overall abundance of flavors. The other half said “Hell yeah!” to the Habanero because they loved the heat, it stood up to all the meat (especially the rough-cut pepperoni), and basically added peppers to the pizza. Fans of anything spicy would concur with this one!

Last but not least, I chose an even more complex pizza and transitioned the prior liquid pepper theme to the Supremus Maximus, which actually had peppers as some of the toppings, along with black olives, fire-roasted onions, pepperoni and sausage. Boom!

Screamin’ Sicilian’s Supremus Maximus
This is my shot, I had to show this one love!
Their description: Our Supremus Maximus Supreme pizza rules over all other pizzas like the great Caesars, surveying its kingdom from high atop Mount Pizza. Supremus Maximus’s domain is built upon a foundation of individually rolled dough balls made of wheat, water, olive oil & yeast to create our stone-fired crust, each perfectly imperfect in its artisanal shape. Next, Maximus commands that it be dressed in profound quantities of the finest whole milk mozzarella cheese from Wisconsin, the heart of America’s Dairyland.
Maximus continues with heaping piles of buffalo-chopped, thick-cut pepperoni and enormous orbs of Italian sausage steeped with seasonings and spices that overwhelm the senses with joy & euphoria. Like a crown upon its mighty brow, the Supremus Maximus adorns colorful and effervescent strips of fire-roasted onions and red & yellow bell peppers, and black olives complete its glory.
Beware, one bite and Supremus Maximus’ conquest of your mouth will be complete and its rule will last for one thousand years.

My beer: I wanted to cool things down a bit with this last one after hitting my team off with the Ballast Point Habanero joint, so I went the fruity route, brew-wise. With all of those vegetables on top, I thought about what would pair well with a salad, complement some of the sweetness of the sauce, yet give the meats their own stage. With that, the 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat Beer (4.7 percent) brewed with fresh watermelon surprised everyone; they said they got like a gazpacho effect with meat added and truly appreciated this adventurous pick.
While the Hell Or High scored major points for originality, my Ommegang Rare Vos Belgian-Style Amber Ale (6.5 percent) selection hit a unanimous home run because it was just as complex—spicy, slightly sweet, yet light enough to cut through all of the pizza’s ingredients. (And one person was allergic to watermelon.)

I closed the tasting session with dessert—Three Taverns’ Theopan The Recluse Imperial Stout (9 percent)—and then I kicked everyone out followed by a lovely nap.

Publix was sold out of the Friar Cluck Chicken Parmesean Pizza, so I will be on the lookout for that one, but nonetheless, these Screamin’ Sicilian folks know what they’re doing; I was very impressed with their pizza. I am a New Yorker so that says a lot! Anyway, definitely check them out; they strongly support the craft beer movement. I totally appreciated them reaching out to me. Show them some love!

Okay y’all, I gotta start cruisin’ for a brewsin’ once again. I mean, hell, it’s Craft Beer Week!

Your homey,



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