Perfect Pairings: NOLA Desire and The Sweet & Spicy Pig Ears at The Hay Merchant

You need this snack and you need it now.
You need this snack and you need it now.
Photo by Kate McLean
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Ahoy! Next time you saddle up to the bar at The Hay Merchant, be sure to order yourself a bag of the Sweet & Spicy Pig Ears with a pour of the NOLA Desire Sour Ale, because this combination checks all the boxes.

When the bag hits the table try your best to remain calm. Slowly rip the sack wide open so there's no possibility at anything getting in the way. It's hard not to marvel in the sight; crispy ear slices laden with chewy, warm, fat pockets all generously packed in a sweet, spicy mix. As with all secret recipes, I could totally be wrong, but it tastes like sugar, paprika, a little less cayenne than paprika, and a touch of salt for old times' sake. This mix would be great on many things; but it's especially perfect with the hint of musky pork flavor that is lightly present in anything coming from the pig's face.

What better way to cut through all that savory face fat than with a Sour Ale.

Sour ales, quite vintage yes, yes, are how all beer was made in the beginning, with wild yeast. Sours have the ability to quench your thirst in a different way than other beers; almost more so on a hot day. The NOLA Desire is a sour drinkers sour. It doesn't play. Aged in Chardonnay wine barrels with raspberries for nine months, this ale screams delicious, tart, red fruit. Remember sucking on a Warhead and getting past that really intense part and now you can't stop because it's so good? The process is about the same.

All gone.
All gone.
Photo by Kate McLean

Back-and-forth you go. Beer and ears, beer and ears. Scooping up the special mix and sprinkling it in your mouth. This snack is money in the bank every time. $9.50 for an 11-ounce pour of the Desire and $8 for the Sweet & Spicy Pig Ears. Act fast on this one, the Desire won't be available forever.

The Hay Merchant is open Sunday to Wednesday 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. and Thursday to Saturday 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.

The Houston Press is searching for perfect food pairings and where they can be found. We welcome reader suggestions and ask you to send them to dish@houstonpress.com.

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

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