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Beer Lesson: How to Pair Beer with Food

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Coloradans know that beer is much more than a sporting event accessory. Chances are, you’ve been to a beer dinner, or at least thought about whether one brew would be better than another to drink with your grilled steak. So, how do you pair suds with supper? We asked Great Divide’s Brian Dunn for some quick tips about creating the perfect meal to enjoy with craft brew.

1. Be matchy-matchy. For foolproof pairings, combine like-minded flavors. If you roast or grill a piece of meat with a caramel-y sear, you can match that smoky-sweet flavor with an equally smoky-sweet beer, like Great Divide’s Claymore Scotch Ale.

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2. Mix it up. But don’t try to match everything, as contrasts are just as appealing for beer and food pairings. “You can contrast flavors,” Dunn says, “like pairing a hoppy IPA with Thai green curry.”

3. Say cheese. One of Dunn’s favorite things to pair with beer is cheese. “I think the carbonation in beer cuts the fattiness of cheese,” Dunn says. “The carbonation helps break that up and let the flavor come through.” Try Yeti Imperial Stout with a hearty blue cheese. “It’s a crazy pairing,” Dunn says, “but it works great.”

4. Make your own rules. Beer dinners don’t need to be formal affairs. “Beer is easygoing,” Dunn says, adding that it is fine to “match” one course and “mix” the next.

5. Know what you like. Dunn avoids pairing vinegar-based dishes with beer, like a salad doused with balsamic vinaigrette, because they can be “palate wreckers.” Although he’s quick to point out that this is a personal preference; figure out your own.

Bonus Inspiration:

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Pair Brownies… with Yeti Imperial Stout

Pair Vanilla Ice Cream… with Hibernation Ale

Pair Dutch Roomano cheese… with Hercules Double IPA

Pair salad… with Colette

Learn more: On Saturday at 2 p.m. Dunn and Old Major’s Justin Brunson will chat about all things beer and charcuterie at the Great American Beer Fest.

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Natasha Gardner, Articles Editor

Natasha Gardner writes and edits longform journalism and multimedia projects for 5280 and is a regular columnist for 5280.com.

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