WHILE WINE PAIRING HAS BEEN IN VOGUE FOR CENTURIES, beer has been unfairly relegated to a beverage best enjoyed solo. Pairings show off how a certain beverage interacts with different foods or even other drinks, and historically, beer’s been imbibed without any fancy accoutrements.
All kinds of beers are gaining legitimacy as nuanced, complex beverages, and restaurants are scrambling to create dishes to complement a variety of beer flavors. And many package stores, cooking schools and weekend festivals pair beers with a dizzying array of dishes.
While wine pairing tunes in to the acidity that settles salt and fat, beer has the advantage of taste profiles associated with sweet malts, bitter hops and yeast, ranging from mild to funky. The carbonation in most American beers scrubs fat from the palate, preparing for the next bite.
Some beer pairings feature beers of a single brewery, a particular style or a particular region, but a common element flowing through all pairings is that beer is a versatile beverage that can accompany any dish, from savory to sweet.
Pairing formats vary; from formal, sit-down dinners with a set number of courses served to all attendees simultaneously, to more casual, letting guests proceed through courses at their own pace. Still others present each pairing all at once, freeing the tasters to sample in any order they wish.
For beer-lovers, a pairing can be discovery and delight, educating the mind and palate to new, interesting flavor combinations while boosting the idea that beer is worthy of thoughtful food pairings.
Here are a few pairings held locally:
Pucker Up Beer Dinner
6 p.m. Feb. 25, Kitchen on San Marco,
1402 San Marco Blvd.; $70
FWM readers said Kitchen on San Marco was Best New Restaurant in our Best of Jax 2015. The gastropub’s obvious love for beer is evidenced by the extensive list written on the wall. The knowing folks there delve into craft beer’s hottest emerging trend, pairing farm-to-table dishes with sour beers. Call 396-2344 for reservations and details.
Intuition Ale Works
6-8 p.m. Feb. 23, 720 King St., Riverside,
683-7720, facebook.com/IntuitionAle; $40
A cheese and beer pairing led by reps from Cypress Grove Chevre and Intuition Ale Works. Cypress Grove is known for award-winning goat’s milk cheeses, and they’re bringing several to pair with IAW’s locally crafted beers; expect six cheeses paired with six brews.
Publix Aprons Cooking School Beer Dinner
6:30 p.m. March 10, Publix,
10500 San Jose Blvd., Mandarin; $40
The pairing and cooking demonstration features dishes paired with Bold City Brewery brews, such as corn-and-bacon chowder with Barrel Aged Roxy’s Imperial Cream Ale and curry lamb stew and smoked basmati rice with Mad Manatee IPA. Call 262-4187 for tickets and more info.
Get out to these beercentric events and contact your favorite watering hole and/or brewery to learn more about this new trend.