Move over wine, it’s beers turn to shine. Yes, drinking beer is chic, thanks to the craft beer explosion that mushroomed in California and Colorado, spreading hops like wildfire.
The Brewers Guild of Florida says that although we are a latecomer to the craft beer scene, its predicted that soon Florida will boast 500 breweries estimated at $2.5 billion! Still not convinced? USF St. Petersburg introduced a Brewing Arts Program just this year.
From New York to Los Angeles, beer sommeliers, beer and food tasting events and beer/food pairing suppers are all the rage. August’s WaZoo Beer Fest, home brew boutiques and craft beer taps at Angry Pepper, Stillwater Tavern and Big Jim’s are just the tip of the suds-berg. Here’s the scoop on what’s brewing here in Tampa Bay.
A Hoppy Marriage: Today, beer-friendly foods go beyond nuts and pretzels. National gastropubs (The Yard House, B.J.’s, Gordon Biersch) celebrate sudsy food/beer matches on their menus while local chefs whip up everything from barbecue to chili with a ribald stout or porter from one of Tampa Bay’s craft brewers.
Want to quell a spicy sandwich? Discover nirvana when you pair a 3 Daughters’ Beach Blond with a grilled chicken, bacon and Pepper Jack cheese wrap.
Looking for elegant beginnings? At the July 6th Grey Salt’s Cigar City Brewing dinner, Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale paired perfectly with the Chicken Profiteroles and Scallop Crudo starters.
Beer/Food Pairing Pointers: Like wine, today’s pairings are no longer red for meat, white for seafood/chicken. Beer has a wide range of flavor characteristics, from bitter to sweet, and makes ingredients sing. Look for common flavors that echo but don’t overpower a dish, such as a spicy pale ale with a Thai dish. A hoppy beer has bitterness that cuts the heat in spicy foods while a stout’s smoky notes work well with ribs.
Our craft brewers recommend these pairings for your next party:
Ale: Pair with robust dishes such as burgers; spicy wings; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food; nutty food; fried food; pizza; steaks; Cheddar, Parmesan, or Edam cheeses.
Blonde/Lager: It’s like a crisp white wine and best paired with shellfish; light seafood; sushi; grilled pork and chicken; pasta dishes without cream or meat sauces; Vietnamese/Thai/Latin food.
Pilsner: Pair with Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack cheeses; salads; light seafood; salmon; tuna; trout; asparagus; Asian/Mexican food.
Porter: Pair with smoked foods; barbecue; sausage; rich stews; meats; bacon; chili; braised dishes and chocolate cake for dessert.
Wheat Beer/ Hefeweizen: Pair with light soups and salads; vegetarian dishes; sushi; Gruyère cheese and Feta/goat cheese; fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.
Written by Nanette Wiser