Another great place to sample some different kinds of beer (without being afraid of choosing a dud) is a beer pairing. I’ve been to beer pairing dinners and beer pairing brunches. Either is a fabulous choice, although beer with breakfast calls my name.
With a beer pairing, either the brewer, a beer representative, or the chef choose meals and beers that perfectly complement each other. While the costs of many of these events can be pricey, I’ve never attended one that wasn’t worth it (though some have been really steep). The food is always fabulous, even if the restaurant doesn’t normally produce that caliber of food. For example, we attended a beer dinner at a bar known for grilled cheese sandwiches and tater tots. At the beer dinner, we dined on scallops, short ribs, and Banana’s Foster. It was some of the best Banana’s Foster I’ve had, and the short ribs were fall-off-the-bone delicious. And the beer is chosen with a lot of care to fit with a particular food plate.
I highly recommend attending beer dinners or breakfasts. Just as with a beer festival, you are able to try a few different beers and find some that you truly enjoy. Since the chef has worked together with the beer representative to choose the best beers to sample, you will not be disappointed in the beers that they focus on. Eat a bite, take a sip, and eat another bite – those are the rules for tastings. It is amazing what a well-chosen beer and dish will do for each other.
Often times the beer representative or brewer will stand up and share a fact or two about each beer during the pairing. This really helps you increase your knowledge. I’ve learned a lot of interesting information at beer pairings that I hadn’t heard from other beer drinkers or read online.
And if you don’t like a beer or one of the foods on the menu, negotiate with your date or friends so that you get extras of a plate that you like or a beer that you like. You don’t risk wasting this way and get the bonus of having more of something you truly enjoy.
So, get out there and find beer pairings in your area. You will eat a fabulous meal, expand your beer knowledge, and hopefully identify some new beers to add to your rotation at the same time. Maybe I’ll see you there!