The Ultimate Hop City Drinking Guide to Krog Street Market: Part II

Beer pairings for lunch at the Cockentrice, Gu’s Bistro
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Photograph by Evan Mah

The last time I met with Kraig Torres to pair food from stalls at Krog Street Market with his beer from Hop City, it was five months ago in January on a Friday afternoon—and the warehouse-turned-food-court was bonkers busy. The market was barely two months old, and lines for Fred’s Meat & Bread, Yalla, and G.C. Barbecue stretched from one side of the building to the other. Folks on their lunch break and parents pushing strollers stalked tables looking for a place to sit. Torres, at the time, described business as “gangbusters.”

If you haven’t stopped in lately, the scene is practically a Zen garden by comparison. On my last four visits during lunch on a weekday, I spent less than five minutes waiting in a line (compare that to the 30-minute lines before). Torres says he’s seen a similar change.

“It use to be pretty bad, bad in that I wouldn’t want to spend time here on Friday and Saturday because it was so busy. People have figured that out, and business has spread out over the week. Lunch is steady, and our sales have continued to go up, but business has shifted away from the weekends.”

For part II of this series, Torres and I paired beer with sandwiches from the Cockentrice, which started lunch service in mid-April, and with favorites from Gu’s Dumplings. Our findings:

The Cockentrice

617HopCity3Crispy Pork Belly Banh Mi
Ilkley Brewery Co., The Mayan 

“This is an English beer. It’s called the Mayan because it’s made with chocolate and chipotle. Although neither of these ingredients is in this sandwich, the combo is luxurious, so bold and big, saucy and crunchy all at once. But this isn’t a sweet beer. This is a fun pairing.”

Hanger Steak Sandwich
Stone Brewing Company, Imperial Mutt Brown Ale 

“This is an imperial brown, but it doesn’t taste imperial. It has a robust character to it, almost a woodsy nature to it. The sandwich is magnificent, beefy and bold, and called for a darker beer.”

Sloppy Joe
Kostritzer Schwarzbier, Black Lager

“This isn’t the Sloppy Joe I was expecting. I taste a lot of unsweetened tomato paste. The beer is a black lager, and it’s not a heavy beer. I’m going for smokiness—I don’t want super smoky, just something that reminisces smoky, dry, and light. But this is a tricky pairing.”

Gu’s Dumplings 

Chengdu Cold Noodles
Starr Hill, The Love

“The spice is subtle, kind of creeps up on you after a few bites. I’m going with a restrained beer on this one. This is a classic, American-style wheat beer. It’s got a slightly more aggressive hop profile than a wheat beer but still very much a blank palate. You can’t go too big or bold with these noodles. You need something gentle and super refreshing.”

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Sautéed Chicken with Chili Peppers
Weihenstephaner, Lager 

“The heat in this dish is not so—oh wow, that’s cumulative hot. On this one, we literally need a fire extinguisher. This is damage control. For relief, I went to the world’s oldest brewery. Weihenstephan builds the prototypical German lager. You can taste the grain in the beer, and it’s really restrained from a hop profile. It’s quenching, mouth-coating beer, and it’s exactly what you need to offset the heat. This is a great pairing, almost a necessity pairing.”

 

Spicy Crispy Beef
Brooklyn Brewery, I Wanna Rye-it! 

“The thing about rye beers is that they tend to be tight and sharp, almost peppercorn-y. This dish is all pepper, and the beer has a lot of malt to it. If I were to pick two words to describe this beer, I’d pick ‘malt’ and ‘peppercorn.’ And to describe this dish, I’d say ‘breadcrumbs’ and ‘peppercorn.’” 

Spicy Dried Eggplant
Creature Comforts, Cucumber and Lime Tritonia

“This beer is mostly salt and cucumber in a mildly sour base. The style goes back 300 to 400 years. Eggplant as a base is moderately flavorless. The seasoning, the batter, the peppers—that’s what’s mostly here. It needs a bit of salt to cut through the spice and the pepper. This dish needed a softer beer to complement, which is where the cucumbers come in.”

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