Over the past few years, I’ve been noticing that beer pairing dinners in breweries and restaurants have replaced some of the ubiquitous wine dinners that previously ruled the roost. And, why not? Just like with various wine varieties, different types and styles of beer pair (or don’t pair) well with certain foods. One thing for sure, it’s fun to experiment with food and beer pairings. Of course, as with pairing wine and food, I believe that you should drink whatever you want with the food you’re enjoying. There aren’t any hard and fast rules. Let your taste buds be your guide. Here are a few suggested food and beer pairings from some local restaurants I recommend trying.
If you’re skiing at Deer Valley Resort this winter season, I suggest a jaunt over to RIME Raw Bar, which is situated just steps from the Jordanelle Gondola. Chef Matt Harris and his crew serve up what I believe is the best lobster roll east of Maine or Connecticut at RIME. There’s nothing quite like the buttery luxury of a RIME lobster roll.
But the simplicity of a great lobster roll means that you don’t want to drink a beer that will overpower it. So, I suggest a light, crisp, hoppy beer such as Park City Brewery’s Imperial Pilsner. It has grassy and floral notes, along with some hoppy bitterness that will do a delicate dance with those luscious lobster rolls.
My favorite Neapolitan style pizza at MidiCi in The Gateway is the one they call the Devil’s. It’s a heatseeker’s dream pizza, loaded with spicy housemade Italian tomato sauce, spicy Italian salami and, if that’s not spicy enough, red chilies, to boot. I love every heat-seeking bite of this incendiary pizza.
With spicy foods like the Devil’s pizza, you’ll want to stay away from beers that are too dark or two sweet, as they’ll likely overpower the flavors of the pizza. So I’d suggest sipping a not-too-malty brew like Epic Brewing Session Series IPA. It’s an easy-drinking beer with good carbonation (which helps tame the heat) and crisp herbal flavors from Mosaic and Simcoe hops. The relatively low alcohol content means you won’t get too full or too tipsy while putting out the fire of the Devil’s potent pizza.
One of my favorite fried chicken joints is Sunny Nisar’s Curry Fried Chicken. This eatery doesn’t serve beer. However, the fried chicken travels well and you could always get some of that killer chicken to take home and do your favorite beer pairing there.
The spices that make Sunny’s curry fried chicken so delicious aren’t fiery hot, but the chicken is somewhat spicy. And typically, maltier beers pair best with spicy foods. So, I would suggest a brown ale such as Red Rock Brewery Bobcat Nutbrown Ale to drink alongside this chicken. With a base of Chocolate and Crystal malts and Cascade and Columbus hops, this medium-bodied American-style brown ale would do a delightful tango with curry fried chicken.
Chef/Owner Fred Moesinger at Caffe Molise serves up one of my favorite pasta dishes: Pappardelle al Sugo. It’s a big, generous plate of fresh house-made pappardelle pasta which is tossed in a hearty, robust, slowly-simmered sauce of beef and pork with tomatoes, then topped with grated Asiago cheese and julienned basil.
That rich, robust sauce calls for a meaty beer that can stand up to it. So I would recommend Uinta BABA Black Lager from the Caffe Molise beverage list. It’s got creamy coffee and chocolate flavors along with subtle hints of wood smoke—a beer, I think, that can go the distance with Fred’s perfect pappardelle.
At Cucina Wine Bar, Chef Joey Ferran has nailed the making of Mexican-style mole. And, it shows up in abundance in his killer cauliflower dish: roasted Romanesco cauliflower with a rich red mole.
Here, I think, you could go one of two ways with beer pairings. A hefty porter or stout such as Epic Brewery 826 State Stout would partner nicely in a heavyweight-meets-heavyweight manner.
Or, you could select a beer that’s lighter in style, and which would serve as a contrast to the complex, rich mole. My choice from the Cucina beer list for that sort of pairing would be the crisp and clean Bohemian Brewery Czech Pilsner.
Do you have a favorite food & beer pairing? We’d love to hear about it.