I admit it. As a beer lover, I have hopped on the craft beer train. (Whoot, whoot!) This train is movin’ at lightning speed, and it’s going places we’ve never been before. It’s a pretty exciting time for those of us who appreciate all the goodness of beer, and an even more exciting time for those of us marketers who work with the beverage industry. I saw it with the announcement of Stone Brewing coming to the East Coast…the momentum, the support, the excitement! I mean, this train can go anywhere, right? The industry is bursting with breweries, meet-up groups, clubs, websites, festivals, awards and more…so, what’s the next stop?
I’m calling it. Beer and food pairings will be all the rage nationwide. From five-course dinners to seasonal menus to custom created events, beer-food pairings will be popping up in restaurants, bars, breweries and festivals all over the country. Wine pairings have been around forever, so it’s only natural that craft beer follow in those well-tread footsteps. And while I have seen some beer pairing dinners here and there, I think as the concept explodes, the job of those in the industry will be to make beer-food pairing opportunities accessible, educational and creative.
No, I can’t go to a beer pairing dinner at a downtown brewery at 7:00 on a Tuesday night. But I can go to a beer-appetizer pairing happy hour at 5:00 at the bar down the street on a Friday. Local breweries need to be partnering up with restaurants/bars/chefs (and the like) to develop events at various locations, times, days and price points. As craft beer drinkers are a diverse crowd (check out this humorous look at the 43 Types of Beer Drinkers from our friends at Thrillist), offer options that will appeal to various types of people.
I love beer, and I love food. And I live in the real word. I’m not cooking gourmet meals every night, so I don’t need any fancy food pairings in my normal life. But tasting some cool food-beer combinations would be fun, and then after that, tell me what tastes good with the basics…burgers, chicken, steak…so I’ll know what to fill up my growler with and perhaps order next time I’m out to dinner.
Craft beer drinkers are an experimental group. They love their seasonal brews, new crazy flavors and unique ingredients. The opportunity to pair these beers (think ginger, pumpkin, berries, chocolate, peanut butter, etc.) with dishes that bring out the flavors of both the food and beer, is a pretty cool and exciting experience. So make it fun, funky and tasty.
With the craft beer craze, there are many, many, many flavors of beer. So where does one start? Here is a simple guide to 10 popular beer styles and recommended food pairings to get you going. Of course, the possibilities are endless, and won’t it be fun discovering them?