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Beer and Food Pairings for Safe Summer Gatherings

As you begin to plan parties and other small outdoor gatherings this summer, we know curating the perfect menu will be a top priority. Beer is synonymous with summer, so beer and food pairings should be taken into consideration. We've chosen just a few beer types and suggested food pairings to help take out the guesswork for you. Keep reading to learn how beers are classified by taste and appearance, to learn some guidelines for beer and food pairings, and to find some suggested recipes that are absolutely delicious and just perfect for summer! Also, don't forget that BierGardeValise™ is the perfect option for traveling with beer, so keep it in mind when you begin to travel more regularly again. 

India Pale Ales

IPAs (India Pale Ales) are some of the most well-known craft beers. IPAs come in a range of styles, and the modern approach to hoppy beer isn’t a declaration of bitterness, but a beer that explores the world of fruity flavors that can also come from hops. India Pale Ales Recipe pairing: Medium amber in appearance, these beers are usually infused with citrus or herbal flavors to cut their characteristic bitterness. Double IPAs are made with more hops and are even more bitter. 

Steak Fajitas

Ingredients for the meat: 2 pounds flank steak or skirt steak coarse kosher salt and black pepper 1/4 cup olive oil 2 teaspoons chili powder 1 teaspoon oregano 1/4 cup orange juice 2 tablespoons lime juice  1 tablespoon minced garlic  2 teaspoons cumin 1 teaspoon smoked paprika ¼ cup chopped cilantro Ingredients for the pepper and onions: 1 large large poblano pepper, sliced into strips 2 medium white onions, sliced 3 large bell peppers, sliced into strips 1 pinch salt 2 1/2 tablespoons cooking oil, divided Directions:
  1. In a large resealable plastic bag (or a large mixing bowl) add all the ingredients except the coarse sea salt and black pepper and toss to combine. 
  2. Cover and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours. 
  3. Remove the meat from the marinade, transfer to a clean large surface or cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Generously season both sides of the steak with coarse sea salt and black pepper.
  4. In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add 1 tablespoon of cooking oil. Add the steak to the skillet and cook on each side for about 3-5 minutes, depending on how thick the steak is and how “done” you want it to be. I recommend using a meat thermometer for this step if you have one.
  5. Remove the steak from the skillet, transfer to a cutting board to let it rest and lightly cover with aluminum foil. 
  6. While the meat is resting, add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of cooking oil to the skillet. Add the onions, peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes, until the veggies are soft. 
  7. Uncover the steak and slice it against the grain and at an angle into thin slices. Serve along with the fajita veggies in tortillas

Amber Ales

Amber ales are known for their medium mouthfeel. They're also known for their strong malt flavor with complimentary caramel notes. The name describes their color, usually ranging from amber to a deep reddish-gold. Many amber ales have a characteristically dry finish and though the flavor from the hops isn't overpowering, they do tend to give a light, flowery aroma to these beers. Amber Ale and Recipe Pairing:  Amber ales are excellent palate cleansers because of their dry, crisp finish. Here's an outdoor grill recipe that pairs with this beer perfectly:

Jerk Chicken Drumsticks

Ingredients: 4 lbs chicken drumsticks  1 Tbsp soy sauce 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper 2 bay leaves 2 Tbsp honey Juice of 3 limes (about 1/3 cup) 1/4 cup orange juice 2 tsp salt 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper 2 tsp smoked paprika 2 tsp dried thyme 1 tsp ground allspice 1/2 cup olive oil 4 cloves garlic, minced 1 small white onion, chopped (about 1 cup) 1 tsp grated fresh ginger (about one ½-inch knob) 1 medium jalapeno, seeded and diced Directions: 
  1. Add chicken to a large resealable plastic bag.
  2. Add garlic, onion, ginger, jalapeno, soy sauce, honey, lime juice, orange juice, salt, pepper, paprika, thyme, allspice, nutmeg, cinnamon, cayenne, bay leaves, and oil to a medium-sized bowl. Stir to combine. Transfer marinade to the bag.
  3. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours, up to overnight.
  4. When ready to cook, preheat grill to 400˚F.
  5. Remove chicken from marinade and discard the excess. Transfer chicken to the grill and cook for 30-40 minutes, flipping every 10-15 minutes, until skin is crispy and chicken registers 165˚F internally on a meat thermometer.


Originating in London, Porters were dark, strong beers frequently associated with the working class. They're now known to be more mild and available in many styles and flavors. They've still maintained the dark color they're known for, along with their deliciously toasty flavor. Porters have strong notes of coffee, caramel, and chocolate which are all derived from the roasted brown malts used to produce them. Porters are known for their thick, almost velvety mouthfeel, but they have a surprisingly crisp finish.  Porter and Recipe Pairing:  Pair Porters with foods that have similar taste and texture; deep, rich, and delicious. 

Buttery Garlicky Crab legs

Ingredients: 3 pounds thawed Snow Crab clusters 3/4 cup butter  3 cloves garlic, minced 1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons dried parsley 1/4 teaspoon salt  3/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper Directions:
  1. Cut a slit, length-wise, into the shell of each piece of crab.
  2. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat; cook the garlic in the butter until translucent; stir in the parsley, salt, and pepper. Continue to heat the mixture until bubbling.
  3. Add the crab legs; toss to coat; allow to simmer in the butter mixture until completely heated, 5 to 6 minutes.


Stouts are very similar to Porters in their dark appearance. They have low to moderate alcohol content and a roasted flavor that's similar to Porters, but not as strong or bitter. They're available in various types and tend to have a mild, well-balanced flavor. Like Porters, they also generally have chocolate tones and a smooth, silky mouthfeel.  Stouts and Recipe Pairing: Much as chocolate’s dark bitterness or vanilla’s aromatic woody character is often prized in savory preparations, Stouts can be enjoyed with a wide variety of appetizers and entrées.

Grilled Garlic Shrimp

Ingredients: 2 pounds frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled 1/2 cup olive oil 2 tablespoons minced garlic 1 tablespoon and 1-1/4 teaspoons lemon juice  1/2 teaspoon pepper 2 pinches finely chopped parsley 6 skewers (soak wooden skewers in water for 15 minutes) 1 serving cooking spray Directions:
  1. Rinse and dry shrimp.
  2. Whisk olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, pepper, and parsley together in a bowl and pour into a large resealable plastic bag. Add shrimp, coat with the marinade, squeeze out excess air, and seal the bag. Marinate in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium heat and lightly oil the grate. Lightly coat metal skewers with cooking spray.
  4. Remove shrimp from the marinade and shake off excess. Discard the remaining marinade. Place 3 to 5 shrimp (depending on size) on each skewer.
  5. Cook on the preheated grill until shrimp are bright pink on the outside and the meat is opaque about 5 minutes; do not overcook.

Brown Ales

Unlike other medium-colored beers, brown ales aren't as hoppy or dry. Like stouts and porters, they do have the characteristic coffee and chocolate flavor. Additionally, English varieties also have a nutty flavor. Beer connoisseurs sometimes tend to turn their noses up at brown ales because they lack the more popular flavors extremes and hoppiness people look for so much nowadays, but these delicious beers pair perfectly with many so different foods.  Brown Ale and Recipe Pairing: This dish complements brown ale's rich nutty flavor. 

Grilled Salmon

Ingredients: 3 pounds salmon fillets 1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons soy sauce  1/4 cup and 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 3 tablespoons white sugar  1 tablespoon and 1-1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil  1-1/2 teaspoons mustard powder 1-1/2 teaspoons ground ginger 1-1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper Directions:
  1. In a medium bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, oil, mustard powder, ginger, and ground black pepper.
  2. Place the salmon in a shallow, nonporous dish and pour the marinade over the salmon. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, turning occasionally.
  3. Preheat an outdoor grill for medium-high heat and lightly oil grate.
  4. Grill the fish for about 3 to 4 minutes per side, or to the desired doneness.

Wheat Beers

Wheat and barley grains are used to name wheat beers. These components give the beer texture that's smoother and less carbonation than the other beers mentioned. Brewers often add citrus or other fruit flavors to wheat beer because their flavor is a bit muted if it stands alone.  Wheat Beer and Recipe Pairing: Citrus flavors of a wheat beer will complement a perfectly seasoned chicken. Lemon Herb Grilled Chicken Ingredients: 8 boneless, skinless chicken breasts halves 2 teaspoon fresh rosemary, finely chopped 6 tablespoons lemon juice 2 tablespoon lemon zest 2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil 6 garlic cloves, minced 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 4 tablespoons fresh parsley, finely chopped 4 tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, finely chopped 1 teaspoon fresh oregano, finely chopped Vegetable oil Directions:
  1. Mix all ingredients except chicken together in a 1-gallon ziplock bag.
  2. Add chicken breasts and massage marinade into meat until evenly coated.
  3. Seal the bag and place in the refrigerator. Let the chicken marinate at least 2 hours.
  4. Preheat grill to high heat.
  5. Lightly dip a wad of paper towels in vegetable oil and, using tongs, carefully rub over grates several times until glossy and coated.
  6. Place chicken breasts on the grill. Grill for about 2-3 minutes per side.

Light Lagers

Known for their crisp, refreshing, very mild flavor, light lagers have the palest appearance in comparison to other beer. They aren't hoppy or bitter and are among the most popular beers in the United States. Many commonly-known store brands fall under this category. Light Lager and Recipe Pairing: Light lagers pair perfectly with spicy dishes because of their brisk, refreshing flavor, but they go well with most foods. Spicy BBQ Spare Ribs Ingredients: 4 pounds pork spareribs, cut into serving size pieces 4 lemons, juiced 2 (32 ounce) jar picante sauce 4 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce 4 fresh jalapeno peppers, chopped 2 cup chopped red onion 2 teaspoon salt 4 teaspoons ground black pepper 4 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes cup brown sugar 1 cup barbeque sauce 6 cloves garlic, minced 6 tablespoons prepared mustard Directions:
  1. Place the ribs in large pot with enough water to cover, and bring to a boil.
  2. Stir in the lemon juice. Cook the ribs 1 hour, until meat is tender.
  3. Drain, and place in large resealable plastic bags.
  4. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, mix the picante sauce, brown sugar, barbeque sauce, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, jalapeno peppers, and onion.
  5. Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Pour over the ribs in the plastic bags.
  6. Seal bags, and marinate ribs 8 hours, or overnight, in the refrigerator. Preheat the grill for high heat.
  7. Lightly oil the grill grate. Place ribs on the grill, and discard remaining marinade.
  8. Season ribs with red pepper flakes, and cook 10 to 20 minutes, turning once, until browned and crisp. 
Nothing says "summer" like food, family, friends, and fun in the sun. This summer is different than those of the past, but as the world opens tentatively, we look forward to small, safe gatherings outdoors with mouthwatering food and our favorite beers. Whether you enjoy a dark, toasty porter-style beer, or a crisp, refreshing light ale, pairing your favorite beer with a meal that complements its flavors will go far in making your event or gathering one to be remembered for many years to come. We just know we will travel again one day soon, so make sure you have your BierGardeValise™ ready to go so you can travel with all of your favorite beers. 
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