A Handy Guide to Summer Beer and Food Pairings
If apple pies and hot toddies are the staple food marriages of winter, then beer and BBQ qualify as the summer version. Every bar I frequent is a sweaty cave chalked with every summer brew under the sun (literally), and every restaurant is featuring their summer menu—why not combine the best of the best? If you’re a beer lover, then you’ll know that some booze goes really beautifully with some foods, and today we’re going to talk about which ones.
Fish tacos + Pacifico Clara
Juicy, fried, battered fish, and the blonde Pacifico belong together. Anything served on taco night goes really well with light, Mexican beers, Corona included. If you want a more complex-flavored drink, try Dos Equis, but if you’re ordering steak fajitas, a beer like Negra Modelo is an awesome pairing, since it’s darker, and more bitter (perfect for red meat).
Summer salad + Stone Saison
Stone is a local/cult-y San Diego brewing company, and it’s EVERYWHERE. My friend, Garrett Bryant, actually works at Stone Brewery in Point Loma, SD, so I a) am subjected to many beer monologues, and b) get free beer. With that said, Garrett volunteered to share his “I Don’t Know What To Call It” summer salad recipe with you guys (yay! Thanks, Garrett), which works well with Saison’s earthy undertones.
-1 to 2 cups watermelon cut into 1/2-1″ cubes
-1 to 2 cups heirloom tomatoes cut into 1/2-1″ cubes
-1 to 1 1/2 cups feta cheese
-2 to 3 cups fresh arugula
Instructions: mix all the ingredients together into a large salad bowl, and season with salt and pepper to taste. There is no need for any dressing, because the acidity of the tomatoes, sweetness of the watermelon juice, saltiness of the feta, and the pepperiness of the arugula make a wonderful natural dressing. You could let it chill in the fridge for 15-20 mins, but I recommend chilling the ingredients beforehand and serving immediately after mixing. Pair with Stone Saison.
Dark chocolate tart, ice-cream + Lindemans Raspberry Framboise
This Belgian beer is wildly fruity, and perfect if you’re the kind of person who isn’t totally sold by the beer scene. You do have to enjoy sweet drinks, because this framboise is like drinking raspberry soda. It’s delicious, but you definitely need to pace yourself in terms of sugar content. Since this is more of a dessert beer, I would combine it with something slightly bitter, like dark chocolate; if you really feel like going all out, scoop some vanilla ice cream into your glass for an adult raspberry beer.
Sandwiches + Cherry Wheat Samuel Adams
Much like Lindeman’s Framboise, Cherry Wheat is also very sweet. However, it’s not as syrupy and strong; the hints of cherry are really balanced with the overall taste and aroma, so you can still drink this beer with savory meals. Personally, I would bring Cherry Wheat along to a picnic. It’s refreshing, yet not overpowering. Something light, like a sandwich, goes really well with a beer like this.
Pork belly + PBR
Pabst Blue Ribbon may be one of the most wallet-friendly beers out there, but don’t totally dismiss it. Back in college, PBR’s sole purpose was to take us to drunk wonderland, but you can enjoy it as a sophisticated, burgeoning adult. Really. You can. In fact, it’s probably on every single gastropub or slightly-hipster restaurant menu, and if you’re looking to save $5-8 dollars per drink, PBR is the way to go. Order something rich and heavy, like pork belly or bacon-wrapped figs; PBR, in contrast, is super light and refreshing, and will balance out all those amazing flavors. Also, you’re saving money, so why not? Treat yo’ self.
Crab cakes + #9 Magic Hat
Magic Hat #9 (Not Quite Pale Ale) is slightly sour and sweet, but not heavy at all. It does well with more intense, seafood flavors, like crab meat, or even grilled salmon. You can find Magic Hat in its birth place, Vermont, but I’ve seen in it in several bars in California, so be on the lookout!
Lobster roll + Berkshire Brewing Hefeweizen
Hefeweizen goes with most things: German food (obviously), gyros, pizza, you name it. It’s a really light, versatile beer, but since it’s summertime, you might as well pair it with a hot dog, or better yet— lobster rolls! This Massachusetts local brew with hints of citrus compliments the buttery and rich marvel that is the lobster roll (a treat you should definitely get if you’re vacationing out East anyway).
Steak + Lips of Faith Coffee Chocolate Stout
Stouts are generally really, really heavy. I don’t usually drink them because they make me feel like I inhaled ten hot chocolates and then took a swig of tequila. However, they’re great with red meats. The chocolate-coffee flavors accentuate steak, because steak is already a bold-flavored meat. You need a beer that will slightly overpower it.