What’s Brewing? Pairings for that lager, IPA and every other kind of beer
There are still a lot of parties and social gatherings happening as we finish the summer of 2019.
And where there are parties and gatherings, inevitably there is craft beer and food. You don’t have to be an expert on either subject to pair the two. With just a little knowledge, pairing craft beer styles with food can be a simple and quick thought process. And your guests will appreciate it.
Obviously, not all beers are created the same. They vary in color, taste and alcohol content while being unique in body and aroma. Which style you chose to pair will matter based on the food you’re serving. From this point choose a beer you’ve enjoyed before in this particular style or take a chance on something you haven’t tried, as long as the style matches the dish.
You’ll notice that many beers pair with similar foods so it’s not all that complicated once you do it a few times.
Here are a few craft beer styles and complementary dishes:
Lagers are typically pale in color and have a crisp taste. They tend to be lower in alcohol and happen to be the most popular style we’ve been drinking since the end of Prohibition. In addition, lagers make a refreshing choice for summer enjoyment and for those who haven’t tasted a lot of craft beer before. Pair lagers with Buffalo wings, hot dogs, Asian cuisine with light sauces, fish and salads.
Many times fruits such as raspberries, strawberries and blueberries are brewed into wheat beers. They taste great and are a refreshing choice for the summer months, too. These work well with desserts such as tarts, pastries, fruit salads and light dishes with seafood and noodles.
India Pale Ales (IPA)
IPAs are versatile because of the vast variety of bitterness to citrus flavors they may or may not have. They complement spicy dishes including burritos, fajitas and anything with curry.
American Amber and Brown Ales
Amber and brown ales have a malty flavor and are darker in color due to the heavier roasted and darker colored malts used to brew them. Because of this they pair well with smoked sausage, burgers and chicken on the grill, ribs, pulled pork and most things spicy with intense flavors.
Porters and Stouts
Porters and stouts are dark in color and many have flavors of nuts, toffee, chocolate and coffee. Consider pairing these with dark dishes that have many of the same characteristics such as smoked meats, dishes with caramelized onions, along with soft cheeses, espresso pudding, coffee-flavored desserts and salty foods like oysters on the half shell and savory dark brown sauces.
Make a cheat sheet to keep on your refrigerator door or something you can stick in a kitchen drawer for quick reference of which of these craft beer styles will go best with the chicken, ribs, pasta, fish or maybe just dessert you’re serving.
I keep a cheat sheet on how long to cook steaks on the grill with different thicknesses. It works like a charm but oddly enough comes with some contemplation about doing the same thing on a few tests in school. Err… cheers?
Penn Brewery (Pittsburgh)
Penn Gold (ABV 5%)
Lager (Munich Helles) which is malty, bready and sweet with flavors that all come together. Crisp and well balanced.
Coal Tipple Brewery (Burgettstown)
Pit Pony (ABV 5%)
Wheat beer with blueberries, orange, coriander and apricot.
Inner Groove Brewing (Verona)
Serious Moonlight (ABV 6.5%)
IPA with lots of citrus notes from Columbus, ElDorado and Mosaic hops.
All Saints Brewing (Greensburg)
Crimson Halo (ABV 5.3%)
Amber ale crafted to balance the hop profile with a toasty, sweet malt character, in both flavor and aroma. It has a nice medium body and a gentle, well-balanced finish.
Helltown Brewing (Mt. Pleasant and Export)
Mischievous (ABV 5%)
Brown ale with a big nutty taste. Finishes with a lingering malty flavor.
Headley’s Brewing Co. (Heidelberg)
Flash Lightning Speed Porter (ABV 5.2%)
Porter with a rich and creamy mouthfeel. Well layered with flavors revealing distinctive chocolate and coffee notes.
North Country Brewing Co. (Slippery Rock)
Stone House Stout (ABV 4.4%)
Stout with a roasted barley character that is further enhanced by the addition of oatmeal for an incredible silky finish.
Mark Brewer is a Tribune-Review contributing writer. He’s the author and illustrator of “Brewology, An Illustrated Dictionary for Beer Lovers.”