craft-beer-and-food

The Best Foods to Pair with Your Favorite Craft Beers

A great meal can be measured by many things such as color, texture, taste, and presentation to name a few, but one thing many food lovers don’t realize is that your choice of drink can also affect the taste of your meal, be it for better or for worse. The most common drink options for a meal are soda, tea, coffee, wine, or beer. While there are many rules to consider before choosing the type of wine to drink with your meal, are there the same standards to consider when selecting a type of craft beer? If so, what are the rules? Let’s explore the rugged world of fine dining with craft beers.

best-foods-to-pair-with-craft-beer

Types of Beers

There are over 75 different beer styles, depending on the strength of the hops, fermentation, preparation of ingredients, types of ingredients, alcohol content, and many other subtle changes. The most common types of craft beer are ales, lagers, India pale ales (IPAs), porters, and stouts. You must take many things into consideration when picking a craft beer to pair with your meal. Some beers may have too strong of a flavor that will overpower the taste of your food. Some beers will not have a strong enough flavor to compliment your food. It’s a delicate balance.

Ales

Ale is a common variety of beer and encompasses many other beer types. You’d be hard-pressed to find a beer that isn’t considered an ale. Ales are created opposite of lagers in that they are made using top-fermentation yeast that gives the ale a sweeter, more robust, and fruitier flavor. A short list of foods that pair exceptionally well with an ale is:

  • burgers (try these Hoisin Shitake burgers from Blue Apron)
  • buffalo wings
  • Chinese food
  • Mexican food
  • fried foods
  • pizza

Ale loves to play with the savory, sweet, and spicy flavors of these foods. It will echo back a contrasting taste to whatever you’re eating because an ale is an amalgamation of contradictory tastes itself.

Lagers

Lagers have a very smooth, light flavor. They ferment a little longer than ales and have very few flavor variations making them a consistent beer with a neutral pairing. The best foods to pair with a lager would be:

Lager is the standard craft beer to order when eating pub foods. It doesn’t overpower the taste of the food but compliments the aftertaste on your palate.

Porter/Stouts

Porters and stouts are what one could call “beer cousins.” They are made in almost the same exact way with one variation. Porters are made with malted barley while stouts are made with unmalted roasted barley. Because of this similarity, porters and stouts pair well with almost the same exact list of foods.

  • Barbecued/grilled foods
  • roasted/smoked foods
  • desserts
  • rich stews (try the Ultimate Beef Stew from Tyler Florence)
  • braised dishes

craft brewery

7 Craft Breweries that Should Be on Your Bucket List

Beer lovers are always searching for a new favorite craft beer. Breweries that specialize in creating craft beers with unique flavors and new ingredients are all over the nation, so it can be difficult to choose which ones are worth a visit. For those who love craft beer, the following list of 7 craft breweries are ones that are worth the trip for the beer and the brewery experience.

breweries to visit

1. Dogfish Head Brewery – Milton, Delaware

At Dogfish Head, you can easily spend the entire day touring, exploring, and tasting the beer. The Dogfish Head Brewery has an inn, a distillery, and two restaurants, all within walking distance of Lewes Beach. A favorite of those who visit Dogfish Head is the selection of IPA’s, along with the famous SeaQuench Ale, a tangy blend of lime, black pepper, and sea salt.

2. Goose Island Brewery – Chicago, Illinois

This place is one of the best-known craft breweries in the nation for a good reason. Goose Island Brewery is located in a fun neighborhood on West Fulton Street in Chicago. Visitors to the brewery can see every step of the craft brewing process, then sample local favorites like the Goose Honkers Ale and their specialty aged ales. The brewery also offers many seasonal flavors throughout the year.

3. Against the Grain – Louisville, Kentucky

These bourbon inspired beers are created to reflect the Kentucky bourbon heritage with a twist on classic flavors. Against the Grain Brewery can be found at the corner of Louisville Slugger Field in a former train station that is a destination for those who appreciate modern architecture. The brewery has a huge selection of beers, including local favorite Bo & Luke, a stout that’s aged in bourbon barrels.

4. Allagash Brewing Company – Portland, Maine

If you like fruit-inspired beers, the peach-infused Farm to Face is sure to please. The Allagash Brewing Company has a great atmosphere in a warehouse in downtown Portland. Visitors to the brewery can take a free tour and tasting. Plus, they offer a large selection of their beers to take home, including the Dawnlander, an amber Saison ale.

5. New Belgium Brewery – Fort Collins, Colorado

A craft beer tour would not be complete without a visit to Colorado, and its famous New Belgium Brewery. They offer tours and tastings daily with special events throughout the year. One of the favorites, La Folie, is a brown ale that is aged up to three years, for a taste that beer connoisseurs will appreciate.

6. Russian River Brewing Company – Santa Rose, California

Visitors to downtown Santa Rosa can visit the Russian River Brewing Company for beer that has been aged in Pinot barrels, providing fresh and unique flavors. Their beer Supplication is an excellent example of a brew that is exclusive to the California area and one that should be on your list of beers to sample.

7. Side Project Brewing – Maplewood, Missouri

This brewery, located outside of St Louis, has a tasting room with a huge selection of beers on tap, along with whiskey and wine, all in one location at the Side Project Cellar. Visitors can sample the Red Saison du Fermier, which is fermented and aged in Pinot Noir barrels.

beer lovers

Beer has always been enjoyed since ancient history

Lager vs. Ale | Various Beer Styles Explained

The next time you pop open a bottle of your favorite brew, try to consider its venerable history. Beer has been brewed and enjoyed since recorded human history. In an article on beerhistory.com, archaeologists have unearthed many favorite beer recipes from ancient Mesopotamia. The Egyptians may have thrown back a cold one while they were working on the pyramids because hieroglyphics were invented primarily for brewing beer.

A quick glance into the cooler at your local liquor store or supermarket reveals a plethora of beer choices. You are not limited to iconic commercial brands. If you are ready to branch out into the world of beer, here are some helpful information on the various types to consider:

Lager

There are two families of beers – lager (pronounced lo’g-ger) and ale. While ale were the first types of beer made, lagers did not come around until the Middle Ages. It originated from the German word lagern, which means “to store.”

To make a lager, brewers used a yeast that only fermented in colder conditions. Early Bavarian beer makers discovered the process when they stored their brew in cold Alpine caves. Lagers were typically allowed to age a month or even longer. Their taste is smoother and mellower than their counterparts. One article on BusinessInsider.com mentioned that lagers represent the most popular beers in the world and that they should always be served ice-cold.

A favorite type of lager is the pilsner. It was named after the town of its birth, Pilsin, in the Czech Republic. It has a golden color and is embraced by beer lovers across the globe.

Lager is the most popular type of beer
Lager is the most popular type of beer

Ale

The oldest type of beer is the ale. Ale is known for its complex aromas and its refreshingly brisk taste that pairs perfectly with many types of food. There are three main varieties of ale: Pale, Trappist, and Stout.

  • Pale ale is the traditional drink of the United Kingdom and has always been brewed with hops native to these areas. In the early 70s on, American breweries started producing ale from hops grown in the United States. This pale ale is a stronger version of its English cousin. Some tasters have said that American pale ale has rich aromas of pine, flowers, and grapefruit.
  • Stout is just as its name implies: a strong, stout ale. It is brewed from barley that roasted to the point of being charred. Stout has a lovely dark color with flavors reminiscent of coffee and chocolate. It is a full-bodied beer with a floral aroma and a pleasant kick of bitterness.
  • Trappist is a craft ale brewed by only six Trappist monasteries in the world. It has strict production guidelines that are presided over by this religious order. The Trappist order commissions some versions which are made in approved breweries. These are known as Abbey ales. Trappist beer has a distinct, full-bodied taste.
Ale is one of the oldest beers discovered.
Ale is one of the oldest beers discovered.

Craftbeertemple.com recommends serving most of this ale at 45-50 degrees.

We may all have our preferred beer choice, but it is interesting to try different styles and brands. When you enjoy beer responsibly, it can enhance any meal or recreation time.