Whether you're pairing a hoppy craft beer with a steak for date night or stocking your refrigerator with a smooth pilsner for easy party sipping, pair lighter beer with lighter food, darker beer with heavier food, and keep seasonal flavors in mind.
"An ingredient in the beer will elicit a strong taste from certain foods," said Sonoma County restaurateur Lisa Hemenway. "For example, during crab season (which typically begins mid-Autumn) I love to pair the delicacy with Belgian-style ales."
While your personal taste should ultimately guide your selection, situation also is an important factor in the type of beer that you choose. Whether you're on beverage duty for a last hurrah barbecue with the neighbors, or stocking the refrigerator for girls' night, stick to these tips for choosing the best types of beer to enjoy.
If it's been a long day, grab some friends after work and experience what beer was like in 1919. Batch 19, the latest output from Miller Coors, is derived from a recipe found in an old logbook discovered in brewery archives dating back before 1919, when Prohibition banned beer. You'll love the pre-Prohibition style lager if you enjoy a well-balanced beer that delivers a bold, hoppy flavor.
Tailgating culture demands a can, but don't let tradition overrule the types of beer you'd like to choose for your next tailgate. If you're ready for a step up from your basic light beer, Sly Fox Pikeland Pils is a crisp lager from a small Pennsylvania-based brewery.
If your friends want to let their hair down on a Saturday night, plan a night of reminiscing about your carefree college days – right down to your favorite drinking game. Beer Pong calls for a low-calorie beer like Michelob Ultra Light. This way, you won't feel guilty if you don't make it to the gym the next day.
If you're visiting the Napa Valley/Sonoma area and find yourself all wine-d out, Hemenway suggests choosing a local beer. "Locality is important because various places have a sense of soul that is imparted through their local foods and beers." Hemenway recommends a Belgian-style ale from Russian River Brewing Company.
If you've slaved over a hot stove, think beyond wine to find a beverage that highlights your dish's flavor. Buckbean Brewing Company's Orange Blossom Ale is a zesty ale built from caramel malts, American hops, and orange flower water. Pair it with spicy cuisine like Mexican, Thai, sushi, or any citrus dish.
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