Pair craft beer with your formal dinner menu
Forget wine — craft beers are great for pairing with different meals. | Melissa Elsmo~for Sun-Times Media
The Micro Brew and Food Review
Co-produced by Seven Generations Ahead and the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild and in collaboration with the Downtown Oak Park Association and the Pleasant District, the Oak Park Micro Brew Review will play host to approximately 3,500 people and feature tastings of over 100 craft beers from more than 50 microbreweries across the Midwest.
When: 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 18
Where: Marion Street in Oak Park, between Lake Street and Pleasant Street
Cost: $50 cash and a valid state id are required for entry. Same day tickets are not guaranteed. If same day tickets are available, people wishing to purchase them should line up early. Visit sevengenerationsahead.org to check for ticket availability.
This popular event helps fund Seven Generations Ahead’s non-profit work to build healthy, environmentally sustainable communities in the Midwest.
Updated: October 9, 2012 5:06PM
Several years ago I made a spicy pumpkin molé for an autumn dinner party, and my husband suggested we serve it alongside seasonal pumpkin ale rather than a more predictable red wine. I was delighted by his creativity so we served the bold beer as part of our formal dinner party without reservation.
The ale slashed through the heat in the sauce with ease and the common ingredients between the dish and the drink created a happy marriage. In an instant we both understood that craft beers can simultaneously control and compliment a dish. Ever since enjoying that memorable plural pumpkin pairing, craft beers have had a welcome place at my table.
Microbreweries throughout the United States are putting up an extraordinary array of craft beers that could rival the finest wines when it comes to food pairing.
Craftbeer.com confirmed what I’ve suspected all along; malty beers like ales and porters cut through the heat in spicy dishes, while hoppy beers like pale ales and pilsners cut through fat in rich dishes.
Today, I use this simple rule as the basis for every beer pairing I make. Secondarily, I look to create harmony between ingredients.
Begin exploring the powerful versatility of craft beer by trying a few of my favorite beers and complimentary food pairings. In no time you’ll embrace the crafty side of drink pairings!
Fuel Café Stout
(Lakefront Brewing Company, Milwaukee, Wis.)
Bring home a six pack from Wisconsin and take breakfast for dinner to a new level by enjoying this coffee-infused stout with a stack of sweet blueberry pancakes and syrup or a plate full of fresh doughnuts.
90 Minute IPA
(Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales, Milton, Del.)
Big hoppy bitterness with a little citrus kick makes this ale a perfect choice to serve alongside a grilled beef hamburger and crispy French fries.
(Bell’s Brewery, Galesburg, Mich.)
This summer specific wheat ale is a seasonal highlight and would pair well with fish tacos or ceviche. Get it while you can!
(Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, Chico, Calif.)
Known as the beer for wine lovers, Sierra Nevada pale ale is robust with subtly sweet notes and could stand up to a grilled steak dinner with all the trimmings.
(Three Floyds, Munster, Ind.)
This is not a bitter wheat beer, but a celebration of the sweetness seasonal summer fruits. Try pairing it with homemade peach cobbler to enhance the inherent fruit flavor of the beer.
(Revolution Brewing, Chicago)
A Revolution specialty beer, this double pale ale, is especially favored among hop heads. To make the most of the beer’s bitterness, try serving it as a side kick to boldly sauced baby back ribs.
(Magic Hat Brewing Company, South Burlington, Vermont)
Defined on the Magic Hat website as a “beer cloaked in secrecy,” serve this refreshingly dry ale alongside white cheddar cheese, unsalted almonds, and a crisp green apple slices.
(Sand Creek Brewing Company, Black River Falls, Wis.)
Chocolate and flavors feature prominently in this oatmeal stout and would pair nicely with a rich chocolate dessert.
(Allagash Brewing Company, Portland, Maine)
A cloudy beer infused with coriander and orange, this wheat beer would lend itself well to goat cheese crostini or a grilled chicken salad spiced with citrus and cilantro.
Cane and Ebel
(Two Brothers Brewing Company, Warrenville, Ill.)
This hop forward Red Rye Ale can stand up to more than a little spice and would pair well with Indian and Mexican dishes.
Melissa Elsmo is an Oak Park mom, wife and chef/foodie. She speaks regularly about reclaiming the family dinner hour with nutritious meals. Check out her food blog at www.outofmelskitchen.blogspot.com.