With fall in full force, and the greatest eating holidays of the year just around the corner, it’s time to talk seasonal beer pairings. When done well, craft beer can bring out exciting flavors in your favorite dishes, and vice versa, and even though experimenting is part of the fun when exploring flavor combinations and discovering delightful tasty beer and food pairings — we went ahead and did all of the hard work for you.
Check out these five fall-inspired beer pairings from Jason Buehler — head brewer at Denver Beer Company and master of expertly pairing beer with, well, just about anything.
Dish: Chili (and make it spicy!)
Brew: Graham Cracker Porter
Why it Works: Chili is a classic American fall comfort food, and pairing it with a rich, sweet beer like the Graham Cracker Porter gives an additional dimension to chili and brings out the sweeter side of the dish, which makes for an excellent combination of flavors. The chocolate, biscuit and vanilla notes of the Graham Cracker Porter adds sweeter notes to the chili and cuts down the heat level of the spices, similar to a Cincinnati-style chili that incorporates brown sugar and cocoa to add a sweet component to the dish.
Dish: Pretty Much Any Pie
Brew: Pretzel Assassin Amber Lager
Why it Works: Pretzel Assassin is a very crisp, clean, malt-forward Amber Lager. The rich and toasted malt flavors, and bready/biscuity base in the beer enhances the flavors in the pie crust, making it an extremely versatile beer for pairing. Serve it up with savory pies like chicken pot pie or beef pot pie and it will raise the breadiness of the dish and enhance the meat flavors. In dessert pies like pecan, pumpkin, or apple, the Pretzel Assassin will cut down the sweetness of the treat and help bring out more of the featured flavor of the pie.
Brew: Hey! Pumpkin Harvest Ale
Why it Works: Ribs, brisket or barbecue pork are excellent pairings with Hey! Pumpkin — an amber ale brewed with real pumpkin and spiced with cinnamon, vanilla, ginger, nutmeg and allspice. When paired together, the bitterness and spice profiles of the Hey Pumpkin cut through the sweetness of the barbecue sauce and blend together to create a diverse and complex set of flavors.
Brew: Summit Sunrise Red Rye IPA
Why it Works: Summit Sunrise is a Red Rye IPA that features a big caramel maltiness and equally big tropical hop flavor. When paired with meatloaf, the caramel malt flavors bring an extra dimension of sweetness to the dish. The fruitiness of the hops work as a great complement to the subtle spiciness of the meatloaf. The caramel maltiness of Summit Sunrise also pairs well with meatloaf’s little sidekick, mashed potatoes and gravy.
Dish: Cranberry Stuffing
Brew: Princess Yum Yum Raspberry Kolsch
Why it Works: Cranberry Stuffing is a personal favorite fall dish of Buehler’s, with it’s strong flavors of sage, thyme and berry. When paired with Princess Yum Yum Raspberry Kolsch, the fruitiness of the cranberry is enhanced and helps to balance out the herb flavors. As a dry and tart fruity beer, the Princess Yum Yum is delicately balances out the sweetness in the cranberry-forward dish.
Want to learn more about creating delicious beer pairings? Don’t miss Denver Beer Company’s Thanksgiving Pie and Beer Pairing event on November 18. Tickets are $20 presale and $25 at the door and include four pie and beer pairings—just in time for Thanksgiving.