There is no denying that life is every bit less glam now that you may be self isolated and living off whatever scraps you have remaining in the kitchen. You may also be thinking sure, I know how to pair the best craft beers with the fanciest chef-made meals or artisanal cheeses, but how will I ever find the perfect beer options for my quarantine cuisine? Moreso, how will I fit in planning such a pairing into my busy schedule of binging Gossip Girl? Fear not and read on to find the best beer options for your laziest snacks and meals! While I’ve paired many snacks with specific beers, I suggest that you pair with whatever similar option your local brewery has to offer!
I would argue that a Grilled Cheese is a perfectly acceptable choice for all meals, Pandemic or not. I would also guarantee that Grilled Cheese is an ideal lazy home meal. It’s essentially two ingredients and can be prepared to suit your personal food standards, or lack thereof. Saying that, it’s clearly a rich option so I would pair it with a beer that is lighter on hops. For example, a brown ale would vibe nicely! Try grabbing a Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar. The smoothness of the beer and malts will mix nicely with the aged cheese of your choice!
Any popcorn enthusiast (myself and Kerry Washington) know that popcorn is not one dimensional. There are a plethora of varieties and the customization options are endless. As a stove-top popcorn devotee, I suggest a tart sour to match the saltiness of the snack! Try a Berliner Weisse, which is a sour variation of a wheat beer. The Berliner Weisse has a tart and light taste, which is a result of the added lactic acid bacteria. Its light and tart flavors will contrast your salty snack nicely! For reference, I am drinking the Stone Brewing White Geist Berliner Weisse! Should you be more of a buttered popcorn person, find a milder ale like an ESB (Extra Special Bitter) to balance your popcorn.
CHIPS & SALSA
Honestly, this pairing couldn’t be easier. If you usually like spicy red salsas, I would suggest a wheatier option! For example, a Hefeweizen or a wit would pair extremely well. I would suggest tracking down something similar to the Alagash White. However, if you are more of a Salsa Verde lover, try a lager. A clean lager will complement the bright salsa nicely. I am drinking Chicago-based Dovetail Brewery’s Lager, but your local brewery will absolutely have a good option for you.
If you happen to have some guacamole in the fridge, absolutely grab an American Pale Ale to go with it. A hoppy, citrusy beer will pair nicely with the zesty lime flavors in the guacamole. I would recommend a beer similar to Daisy Cutter by Half Acre!
INSTANT (OR TAKEAWAY) RAMEN
Yet again, I have used the phrase “support local” to justify my endless takeaway food purchases, such as the ramen below. Whether you’re ordering in or have instant ramen stockpiled (due to pandemic reasons or life choices), there’s a beer that will complement it. If you go for one of the saltier ramen options, like a Miso broth ramen, I would suggest a dry or tart beer. I was torn between the two options, but settled eventually on a German-Style Pilsner. The crispy pils was a great partner. Or, for bonus points, track down a bottle of Asahi Super Dry for authenticity’s sake. However, a tart & dry sour beer would also balance the salty and heavy dish well! Try a kettle sour, which is like other sours but fermented in a stainless steel mash tun.
This is where the real info comes in. Chances are you have more frozen pizza built up in your freezer than anything else. Basically, if your pizza is simple, stick to a simple beer. For example, if you have a cheese pizza, then stick to a light and fresh beer like a Kölsch or a German pilsner. However, if you are adding on the toppings and flavors, follow up with a flavorful beer. If you favor a veggie pizza, a lighter Saison or Czech Pils wouldn’t overpower your vegetables too much.
Personally, I am a sausage pizza person (growing up near Chicago will do that to you). A cleaner, fuller lager will complement the spiced and rich sausage nicely. However, I acknowledge that Pepperoni would be more typically found. Here, I would find a malty option to balance the spicier, strong meat flavors. I am drinking a Vienna Lager, which has a more malt-forward presence than many other lagers. Alternatively, a maltier Pale Ale, Like Smuttynose Shoals Pale Ale, could also pair well if that’s more your style!
Finally, if you’re a grease monster who prefers a Meat Lovers Pizza, you definitely need to level up your beer as well. If you’re a hop head, try and find a hop-forward beer, like a Double IPA. Track down something similar to Rogue 7 Hop IPA! Alternatively, a smoked beer would take your meal to the next level.
Hopefully these beer and snack pairings will make your days inside a bit more interesting! In a time where we are living meal to meal (or sofa to sofa, in my case), we could all use a bit of zest to break things up. Cheers, and have fun!