Few things are more divine than the perfect beer and food pairing!
Craft Beer Cellar co-founders, Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow, are Certified Cicerones® and collectively share nearly 50 years in the restaurant business. They’ve tinkered with hundreds of recipes and pairings over the years. Here are a few of their summer favorites (you can find these beers at many of our Craft Beer Cellar locations):
Watermelon and feta salad, with a kölsch, like Reissdorf Kölsch. A hybrid of sorts, kölsches are typically brewed with German pilsner or pale malt, lightly hopped with traditional German types, such as Hersbrucker, Hallertau, Tettnang, or Spalt hops, and fermented with ale yeast, which offers a refined fruity character. These golden ales are then lagered to pristine, crystal clarity. Low in alcohol, crisp, and dry, there is no better summer beer companion!
Cube seedless watermelon and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese and julienned mint leaves (for those counting, this is approximately four cups of watermelon, half a cup of feta, and a tablespoon of mint.
What makes this work?
- German pilsner and pale malts contribute a light, honey-like sweetness that will surely complement the sweetness of the watermelon or perhaps cut the saltiness of the feta cheese. In the end, this will leave your palate less overwhelmed by big flavors.
- The herbal hop character will most certainly be drawn out by the aroma and flavor of the mint.
Next up is another summer salad… this one featuring arugula and spinach, tossed with a lemon vinaigrette, dried cranberries, sunflower seeds, crumbled goat cheese, and cherry tomatoes. Pair this with Stillwater Stateside Saison, a classic farmhouse ale with a touch of white pepper character and a sprinkle of new world innovation (we’re guessing this baby has a touch of Citra hops).
- Arugula and spinach are peppery, slightly bitter greens, which accentuate the slight note of spice in a saison (they are fermented at higher temperatures, which usually causes them to present a noticeable pepper or spice character).
- The lemon vinaigrette is a wonderful complement to the citrus element of the hops.
- The slight acidity of the dressing and the tomatoes work as a counterpoint to the richness of the goat cheese.
- Saisons have a slightly ‘fruity’ fermentation character, usually of light banana, pear or apple, which strides beautifully alongside the cranberries in the salad.
- The earthiness of the spinach and sunflower seeds lend themselves as a bridge to the grain character of the malt in the beer.
Grilled brätwurst rubbed with spices (specifically, smoked paprika, chili powder, and cumin), which will add that little extra kick and sweetness. Pair this with the extremely underrated Schlenkerla Helles, a gorgeous and light Munich-style helles lager from Bamberg, Germany. Although it isn’t actually brewed with smoked barley, it still picks up that character from the brewhouse that it shares with Schlenkerla’s other, more intensely smoky offerings!
We recommend pairing these grilled delights with a creamy cheese and/or a whole grain mustard, which is sure to conjure up the memories of summertime Sundays at the beach with your family!
The grilled, slightly charred character of the bratwurst will go perfectly with the touch of smoke in this helles lager.
- The moderately sweet, grainy, malt character in the beer will tame the spicy heat of the seasoning.
- The smoky savoriness of the beer will work to cut through the richness of the bratwurst.
- The tangy character of the mustard will contrast some of the creaminess of the cheese and keep it from weighing your palate down.
We believe having amazing beer is an experience on its own, made even better with delicious food and great friends. We look forward to sharing more pairings with you next month. Cheers!