Saturday, February 5, 2011

Beer Pairing of Champions

The thing is, I love going to wine tastings.  Learning how to hold your glass and swirl the wine around without spilling it, the way to stick your nose into the glass and sniff your wine in a way that doesn't seem creepy, the way certain wines bring out the flavors in certain foods…it simply fascinates me.  But while I love this knowledge, I never retain it, I hardly use it and when asked to show off my sommelier skills, I usually turn to the waitress and ask her to bring me the cheapest bottle of Cabernet they have.  Not all the time, but sometimes… ok, most of the time.  It’s just too expensive to be a wine connoisseur.  Maybe that's why I don’t put any of my wine education to use.  I refuse to pay more than $20 for a bottle and can’t justify getting only one good bottle when I can purchase 4 so-so bottles or one giant jug instead.  It is definitely quantity over quality. 

When I was invited to a beer pairing event, I was more than intrigued by the idea of beer “going with” certain foods.  Honestly, I never really thought beer to be a diverse beverage, more like one that goes extremely well with hot wings and football.  However, that night, my point of view changed forever.  The presenter stopped me in my previously-only-Miller-Lite-consuming-tracks when he said, “For $20, you can get the best bottle of beer out there and still get change back, while a good bottle of wine could cost you several hundred dollars.”  Preach!

After some extensive research and the opportunity to test out my findings for a friend’s engagement party, I came up with a pretty fun list of beer/food pairings that ranges from classy appetizers to some more down home dishes.  Because it was a party and people would be walking around, I decided to use small plastic cups, with informative labels (which you can find when you click on one of the foods listed below) that listed the name of the beer, the brewery and the type, so you always knew which beer you were drinking.  Plus, you didn’t have to commit to a whole bottle so less wasting...

Some of the pairings we tried were: 
Camembert Cheese: Shakespeare Stout, Great Lakes Burning River Ale
Cheddar Cheese: La Fin Du Monde, Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner
Sushi: Gumballhead, Hacker Pschorr Weisse
Brie: Jinx, Chimay
Mini Bratwurst: Hofbrauhaus Original Munchen, Pabst Blue Ribbon
Mac and Cheese: Munsterfest, Rustic Ale
Pizza: Budweiser American Ale, Fat Tire Amber Ale

CLICK HERE for the complete list of beers and foods.

The best part, which we didn’t even realize till the end of the evening, was that everyone was able to take home a mix n’ match 6 pack with the leftover brew.  Door prize fan favorite if you ask me!! 

What you’ll need: Small plastic cups, labels (any of these should work), beer and accompanying foods.  

Cost: Varies on the amount of beer you purchase and how many pairings you want to have, obviously.  However, all beers (said to be available at but might not be in- stock at your local Binny’s…just fyi) on the list ranged between $2.49 and $16.99.  Other materials: small plastic cups, labels and printer ink, all total around $15.00.  

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