Living in Chicago presents a unique opportunity for both beer and food lovers alike. Many are surrounded by a ridiculous variety of choices that provide more than the age-old combos of cheap beers (Rolling Rock, Coors or PBR) and greasy food (pizza, burgers or wings). Here are some new options to throw in the mix:
Bloodline (Flying Dog Brewery) and fresh cut pineapple
When pairing a beer with a type of food it is important to match the flavor of the beer to the food it is being paired with. In the words of Josh Noel, the Chicago Tribune’s beer expert,
“(…) just like you wouldn’t necessarily pair together something like carne asada with a spicy beer or stout, you’d pair it together with maybe a pilsner or a pale ale so it offsets the flavor without overpowering it…”
An exemplary model of what Noel is talking about is Bloodline. Bloodline is an IPA brewed with blood oranges. This added step in the brewing process allows it to retain the bitter qualities that are associated with an India Pale Ale (IPA) while also adding the sweet citrusy flavor of the oranges. This beer goes wonderfully with most fruits and salads, but this beer is best enjoyed with sliced pineapple and possibly plain cottage cheese.
Fist City (Revolution Brewery) and Herb Crusted Salmon
When dealing with seafood, especially salmon, pairing it with a beer isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind since salmon is a rather rich and oily fish with a very delicate texture. On normal occasions one would pair this with a nice white wine or a pinot noir, but if you’re not exactly looking to buy a bottle, or just not feeling wine that night, Fist City is a phenomenal substitute.
This extremely malt heavy and hoppy pale ale offers quite a bit in terms of flavor alone and pairs well with the salmon because bitterness offsets the richness of the fish and acts as a palate cleanser so every bite appears to be your first.
Obsidian Stout (Deschutes Brewery) and Vanilla Ice cream
For those unfamiliar, a stout is a dark, usually thicker beer that is much sweeter than most. Depending on the type you get they can have an aftertaste that is reminiscent of coffee, chocolate, toffee or burnt sugar.
Obsidian is a very sweet, stout beer that has a mid to low level of carbonation and has a distinct coffee and vanilla flavor. This complements the smoothness and creaminess associated with ice cream and provides a nice bittersweet contrast that genuinely makes you wonder why you never tried this before.
Budweiser and caviar —Timmy Matsas
“So I have no idea where the caviar came from. (It was just in the fridge and it was probably my roommate’s), but all we had to drink was either water or Bud, so I chose Bud and it wasn’t half bad. I’d probably do it again.”
Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale and kung pow chicken —Seamus Brantly
“Alright, so we pretty much just picked a random beer and picked up some PF Chang’s and it turned out to be a great combination, so we just kinda do it all the time now.”
Schwarzwälder Kirschtorte (German Black Forest Cherry Cake) and Ralder — Carlos Goergen
“A radler is a beer that’s mixed with sweet seltzer water, which gives it a different carbonation level and makes it sweeter. I had this when I went to Germany and thought is was probably the best thing I ate there. I’ve only been able to find it once in Chicago at a bar called Radler.”