How to Pair Food With Craft Beer

What is beer pairing?

A true foodie doesn’t just love good food; they understand it. Understanding what makes great food different from good ones is not as simple as identifying what tastes good. It is about analyzing the complex elements that make up a single flavor and identifying its components. The amount of ingredients it takes to create a single flavor can be astonishing, and a true foodie studies flavor and learns to break it apart.

Craft Beer Varieties

Food study alone can be a complicated topic, and analyzing ingredient composition can be an in-depth subject in itself. Some foodies also enjoy a good craft beer, and like any good wine sommelier, will study the flavor and break it down in categories. Now take the complex flavor of a craft beer, and pair it with an equally complicated food dish, and you’re really talking some advanced foodie language. Lucky for you, we are master foodies. That’s why we are giving our professional opinion on some classic food and beer pairings using items from our own Gino’s East River North menu. First, let’s talk about the basics of food and beer pairing.

Beer Pairing 101

Though taste preference is based on opinion, there are some combinations that foodies agree to be complimentary due to their characteristics and the balancing nature of the flavors. This chart from craftbeer.com covers the basic strategy and provides a good overview. The idea is to balance flavor and cleanse the palate with flavors that compliment each other. Just as ginger is used to cleanse the palate when eating sushi, beer can be used to do the same in a few ways. For example beans and legumes can add to the richness of a malty and sweet beer, while also balancing salt and acidity. Hoppy and bitter beer makes a great compliment to gamey meats such as quail by complimenting the roast flavor, while the fat from the meat neutralizes the ale’s bitterness. A dark and roasty beer can bring out the pleasant taste of roasted vegetables while simultaneously balancing richness. The guys at Splendid Table did a great job with this list separating beer into seven distinct categories with food matching suggestions included.

Any passionate foodie enjoys testing flavor combinations, and there are no rules! It’s ok to experiment, and you may even stumble upon some new discoveries. Hey, if you think you’re onto something, let us know. We’d love to hear it. For you beginner foodies, we will break down some combinations for you to try here at our own restaurant.

The Great Bam-Gino (Black Rye IPA)

The Great Bam-Gino is a dark and dry Black Rye IPA. It is in the “roast “category, which utilizes highly roasted grains for cocoa and coffee-like flavor, rich notes, and gives it a dark appearance. This beer includes the bitterness to satisfy the hop-lovers, and has citrus and spicy elements as well. This combines to make an interesting dark ale that goes great with our BBQ brisket deep dish or BBQ brisket sliders. It also pairs well with seafood, making the fish and chips or calamari an excellent match.

The Lasalle Street Lager (German Helles)

The Lasalle Street Lager is our German Helles style ale, and falls into the “crisp” category. These beers are light with a clean flavor, and contain lower alcohol by volume. These malt-accented lagers contain a crisp balance that pairs well with spicy food or leafy greens. We recommend our Antipasto or Harvest Salad for this beer. To pair it with a spicy element try our thin crust buffalo chicken pizza.

Broken English (English IPA)

Broken English is our English IPA brewed with a biscuity sweetness to its rich amber body. This beer falls into the “hop” category, and has earthy and floral tones with a hint of lemon citrus. Rich meats and deli sandwiches are a perfect match for this category, and our Italian Beef sandwich or Bacon Marinara Meatball should hit the spot. Don’t forget our Meaty Legend deep dish, because the flavor combination of seasoned pepperoni, Italian sausage and Canadian bacon makes this pizza is the perfect match for this IPA.

The Witte Chicks Dig Me {Belgian Style Witte)

The Witte Chicks Dig Me is our Belgian Style Witte, and is brewed with Pilsner and White Wheat malts. Flaked oats, sweet orange peel, and coriander seed add a floral and sweet kiss to the hazy body of this ale. This is an excellent pair for cured meats and pizza. We recommend pairing our Chi-Italian Stallion or the Jalapeño Blue deep dish with this beer for a delicious duo.

Gino’s East Brewery

These suggestions our some of our favorite combinations, and that’s coming from some seasoned foodies. Feel free to experiment yourself, and try out these tips on your own dining journey. If you want to sample our beers, try out the Gino’s Brewery Flight to get a little taste of all of them. These beers are crafted in-house by our brewing experts, who chose each ingredient carefully to create complimentary flavors that bring a unique taste to each style. Whether you are new to food pairing, or a foodie veteran, our menu has the range to create interesting flavor combinations to suit everyone’s needs.