We are not so arrogant as to say we can make beer taste better, but you can read on and say it for us. The art of matching a quality brew to a tasty meal is unknown; they think that is what you do with wine. Well, beer has its own flavor complexities and similar to wine, its presence can enhance, or be enhanced by, your dish. In college, this task was easy – beer went well with pizza. Today, your diet has hopefully expanded, and your ability to buy brew that is not available in a 30-pack is increased. The Brewers Association teaches us match strength with strength and look for naturally harmonies when matching beer and grub. It’s not magic, it’s science.
This is the quintessential, one-quiver beer, capable of being delicious no matter what you are chowing. A little color, a bit of bitter and some nice balanced flavor, an American Pale Ale is always there for you when you can’t decide what your in the mood for. Few are better than Deschute’s Mirror Pond Pale Ale. Named after the body of water resting nearby in downtown Bend, Oregon, this beer is perfectly proportioned with Cascade hops and malt sweetness. Order a pitcher and large sausage pizza for you and your buddies and remember the days of limited responsibility. Hey, what you learned in school about the chemistry between pizza and beer is still fact.
A Maibock (German for “May Bock”) might be the most beautiful beer to observe. Its color is an entrancing, light amber which produces a calming effect on all that gave upon it. If it was a car, salesman would tell it is colored, “Melted Honey.” Do not let appearances deceive you; though this beer is brewed for the spring and looks just as innocent, its not meant for light living, packing an alcohol content over 6% and plenty of malt flavor. Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale is an excellent and uber popular Maibock, a style you don’t find that often in American breweries. Dead Guy boast a nice rich flavor that teasingly disguising the alcohol. This hearty tasting drink stands up well hot and spicy dishes, but for a truly delicious combo, pair it with some fried chicken.
Sometimes, a man needs to be a man and grill some beef. When cow is on the menu, order yourself a Scotch Ale. Another big beer, Scotch Ales are not meant to be chugged, unless you enjoy waking naked in the street. High in alcohol and flavor, a good Scotch Ale will be absent of most bitterness and feature caramel and roasted malt characters. Cold Smoke, coming from Missoula, Montana and the Kettlehouse Brewing Company, is a knock-you-on-your-ass good Scotch Ale. For better or worse, you have no idea it is 6.5%, and you’ll order them until your brain and mouth become disconnected. Grill up some nice, fatty Rib-eye steaks, a meat powerful enough to stand up to Cold Smoke. Don’t be afraid to char the outside slightly, as the smoke v Smoke battle in your mouth will delight.
Yes, this is beer, albeit very strong and alcoholic beer. Barley Wines range in flavor profiles from sweet to dry, but the thing they all have in common is alcohol, generally somewhere between 8%-13%. You’ll often be served this brew in a smaller glass (for your own safety). So powerful, basically all entrees are over matched against a Barley Wine. Good thing we have desert. Find something on the menu with a combination of the words “chocolate,” “double,” “molten,” and “devil,”and you know that is what your Barley Wine should go up against. Sierra Nevada brews a beer for this occasion, the Big Foot Barley Wine. Everything is big about this drink. The aftertaste reveals hop bitterness, malt sweetness, citrus notes and a spicy tang. Sip this with a chocolatey treat and forgot about the economic crisis.
Hidden within its dark and mysterious body, lies the malty, chocolatey riddle of the Porter. What is it exactly and where did it come from? “Designing Great Beers,” points out that the Porter was one of first “engineered” beers, meaning it was created with an end in mind, whereas most beers occurred more naturally (in the 18th century at least). Consider it the beer of the Industrial Revolution, a powerful, working man’s drink that stands out in flavor profile and color. Today, Porters fit inside relatively loose style guidelines (the debate over roasted malt rages on) but one thing remain consistent – that first drink will reveal delicious, sweet malt flavors, hints of chocolate and smoke that you didn’t see coming. Such free flavor deserves to be matched with a food that refuses to rest under a single definition, barbeque. Beer and bbq is an obvious pairing, but you haven’t truly experienced this combination until you put the Porter with the pig. Check out Catamount Porter from Harpoon Brewing for sweet, chocolate, coffee taste to go with you bbq ribs.
There is no question about the origin of this wheat beer, the most popular style to come out of Bavaria. Cloudy in appearance with clove and citrus notes, Hefeweizen are easily recognizable brews. Unfortunately, when you order one at your local pub, the novice bartender will likely spoil the whole thing by tossing some fruit in it. You didn’t order the drink for your girlfriend, so why fruit the beer? Decidedly an American trait, perhaps servers were taught this practice to cover up the fact that American Hefeweizens fail to stand up against their German brethren. For an authentic (and tasty) Hefe, head to your local German pub and choose a glass of Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse. An excellent example of a true Hefe, you’ll notice a deep gold color and smooth body, with a hint of banana aroma (even though the beer has never contacted fruit). While at the pub, ask for some Weisswurst, a traditional German treat that goes great with this beer. If you can’t decide what eat with your drink, just look to the locals.