Alex Ganum was a brewing virgin when he moved to town 10 years ago, but he had the good fortune to immediately fall in with a merry band of homebrewers. He went on to apprentice at upstate New York’s famed Belgian-style Brewery Ommegang, then returned to Portland and started Upright Brewing in 2009. Last year he became a co-owner and beer curator for Grain and Gristle restaurant. His family hails from Argentina, where huge, daylong cookouts are commonplace, and he fervently believes that sweetbreads (the thymus gland of a cow) is not only a superb addition to any barbecue, but that it’s criminally overlooked here in the Northwest.
The most popular warm-weather beer in Ganum’s ale arsenal, the Four crackles on the palate with a subdued hop count but an infinity of malt characteristics.
Ganum selected this beer for its mellow temperament—the ideal mate to his gutsy, Argentine menu. “It doesn’t overpower anything,” he says. “The sweetbreads are delicate, so the beer and food match up perfectly.” He likes a beer that lingers on the taste buds to maintain flavor accumulation. “The Four has a long finish, which draws out the fatty flavors of the sweetbreads,” he says.
3 whole sweetbreads (available at Laurelhurst Market or Chop Charcuterie)
The preparation is simplicity itself. Ganum says to blanch the sweetbreads in boiling salted water for 1–3 minutes, or until firm. After cooling in ice water and drying fully, salt the meat liberally and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes—flipping once or twice—until a crispy crust has formed on both sides. Cut into medallions and serve. One sweetbread should feed two people. Add a squeeze of lemon to brighten up the flavor.