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How to Pair Your Beer with Your Snacks

Peanut butter and jelly. Simon and Garfunkel. Dogs and accidentally losing an hour of your remote workday to belly rubs and asking them how they got so handsome. Some things are just better together.

One of those power couples is snacks and beer. We know, this is not exactly a hot take. Snacks? Good. Beer? Good. Snacks and beer together? Very good, and let’s just throw in a good movie or TV show and the company of your aforementioned canine friend for a real party. We’d like to blow your mind right now, though: snacks and beer can get even better. It’s true! By paying a little extra attention to the flavors in different snack and beer options, you can really elevate your pairing game. 

Let’s discuss some basic knowledge about how to pair beer and food and how that applies to your snack attacks. With a few pointers, you can bring a little Cicerone-level panache to your couch potato sessions, and planning your pairings is a fun game in and of itself. You’ll get yourself a little expertise knowledge to impress your friends, an interesting new hobby, and -- let’s be honest, the reason we’re all here -- some seriously improved snack and beer ideas.


Some key things to remember for your pairings:

  1. Match intensities. You want your beer and snack to complement each other, not drown the other one out.
  2. Think about comparing and contrasting. Both make for good combos. Fruity goes well with fruity, but fruity is also played up and made more complex with a crisp, wheaty beer, or a rich, chocolatey stout
  3. Get inspired by classic flavor duos. Peanut butter and jelly is a good example. How can you recreate that with beer and a snack? Have fun here. Snacking on peanuts or something with peanut butter and drinking a juicy, chewy, fruity sour can mimic that PB&J vibe.

 

Ghost Brewing Company’s Mischief Maker Belgian Double IPA with Spicy Snacks

Listen up, heat seekers: Ghost Brewing’s Mischief Maker is what to drink with your spicy salsas, quesos, and dips; your jalapeno poppers, your buffalo wings, your wasabi peas. IPAs amplify heat, their hoppy bitterness bringing the complex notes of peppery spice to the forefront. Their citrusy notes create an interesting (and delicious) contrast. A Belgian IPA like the Mischief Maker is a bit cleaner and drier, which means that all these different reactions will be happening but with an added refreshing level. The Mischief Maker will heat things up, open up the flavors of both your snack and itself, and then clean things out with a thirst-quenching finish.


 

Great South Bay Brewery’s Blonde Ambition Blonde Ale with Olives and Pickles

Olives and pickles and similar snacks have strong flavors. They’re super salty, vinegary, tangy, and sour. You want a beer for these that’s vibrant enough to stand up to those qualities, but isn’t so complex that it’s going to create a jumbled mess. A blonde ale like Great South Bay’s Blonde Ambition is clean and light, but that doesn’t mean it’s bland. It’s just bready and fruity enough, plus its carbonation will keep up with your snack’s acidic nature. Blonde Ambition won’t steal focus, though, with flavors that don’t sync up -- this one is definitely a team player.


 

Coronado Brewing Company’s Shaka Berry Pastry Stout with Chocolate Sweets

We know what you’re thinking: is a pastry stout and chocolate too much? To which we ask you, can you ever really have too much of a good thing? In all actuality, a sweet stout and a sweet snack won’t equal too much to handle -- their flavors will mingle well and their intensities match. Coronado’s Shaka Berry Pastry Stout is an especially perfect choice for everything from chocolate chip cookies to brownies to straight up candy bars, because of its berry flavors. Here’s where that idea comes into play about recreating a classic combo. Fruit’s great, but you know what’s better? Chocolate-covered fruit. The Shaka Berry and your sweet snack will capture that balance of bright, tart, and acidic versus sweet, roasty, and creamy. Shaka Berry is brewed with boysenberry, blackberry, vanilla, cocoa, and lactose, so it’s already got that dynamic cooking. Add your treat of choice and you’ve got a heavenly match.


 

Departed Soles Brewing Company’s A Dark Night Black IPA with Jerky

A beer that’s smoky and roasty pairs seamlessly with your jerky of choice, meeting that meat on its smoked level and playing up both elements of peppery spice and of umami with its dark, full-bodied character. While a schwarzbier or rauchbier are traditional options, you can take a fresh approach with A Dark Night Black IPA from Departed Soles. You still get your hoppy IPA fix, but this particular brew has the roasty quality of a dark lager so it will seriously up the ante on your beef or turkey jerky snacks.


Moody Tongue Brewing Company’s Aperitif Pilsner with Cheese

What do you eat cheese with when you’re snacking? Crackers or bread is a safe bet. That combo works for a reason, and you can imitate it by pairing cheese with a pilsner. You’ll get the same effect, with a pilsner’s bready, grainy, crackery flavor both cutting and complementing the buttery fat factor of the cheese. Stay away from super bold cheeses that might overpower the clean pilsner -- a mild cheddar is perfect. Perfect, too, is Moody Tongue’s Aperitif Pilsner. It’s extra crisp and bready, and it’s flavorful enough to stand up to your cheese.


 

Mayflower Brewing Company’s Mayflower Porter with Ice Cream

Porters are dark and roasty like stouts, but tend to be a bit maltier and a bit less burnt-y because they’re typically made with malted barley while stouts are brewed with unmalted, roasted barley. Mayflower Brewing’s Mayflower Porter is a traditional take on the 18th-century English brew, with classic notes of coffee and bittersweet chocolate. It makes an ideal partner to ice cream, especially something simple and sweet like vanilla. The porter can match the ice cream’s creaminess and sweetness while cutting those very characteristics -- and making things decidedly more interesting -- with its roastiness. Drink it with your scoop or pour it right on top, whatever it takes to live your best dessert life.


 

Collective Arts Brewing’s Earl Grey Wheat with Fruits and Vegetables

If you’re looking to keep your snacks healthy, never fear: there is of course a beer for that. A hefeweizen, witbier, or wheat ale is perfect for a wide range of fruits and vegetables. Its flavor is pronounced but not over the top, so it won’t overwhelm your snack. Its wheaty character will balance tart, sour, tangy, zesty, sweet, and bitter elements of fruits and vegetables. Plus, wheat ales typically have some fruity esters and spicy phenols happening that will emphasize the taste of whatever you’re eating. The Earl Grey Wheat from Collective Arts, in particular, has citrus and coriander flavors, plus the herbal, botanical presence of tea, and would be great with pear, orange, grapefruit, or crudite.

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