Strange Bedfellows: Surprising Food and Beer Pairings

It goes without saying that beer is the perfect accompaniment to nearly any salty and rich food, from pizza, to burgers, to smoked BBQ. Because of the growing popularity of craft beer, there are now more styles of beer than ever for people to choose from, opening up a whole new world of flavors with which to pair. Here at Thorn Street Brewery, we love to play around with beer and food pairings from savory to sweet, so we thought it would be fun to take a look at some of the more unique beer and food pairings out there…

Donuts and Beer

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This is one of our favorite unexpected pairings we have here at TSB. We are incredibly lucky to collaborate with North Park artisan bakery, Nomad Donuts, and have now put on three donut and beer pairings so far, all to a sold out house. Not only do we pair each donut with a taster of our beer, but they use beer in the making of the donuts too. Their creativity ranges from using our Barrio Mexican Lager in the glaze on a churro cruller to a malty Agave Amber ale whipped into a honey goat cheese filling. Sweet pairings are where the maltier beers really sing. Not that IPAs can’t pair well with sweets, but the toasted malts lend themselves to sweet exceedingly well. Porters and stouts are hits with nearly any kind of donut and a coffee stout with a classic glazed donut can hardly be beat. Grab a dozen of your favorite donuts and an array of beers for a true Sunday Funday with your friends.

Cheese and Beer

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This may not be one of the more shocking pairings on this list, but what is surprising is just how well beer pairs with cheese. In fact, we believe that beer pairs better with cheese than wine does! Sure we might be biased, but the carbonation of the beer as well as the bitterness of the hops does a superb job of cutting the fattiness of the cheese. The malt flavors pair well with the nuttiness of many cheese and a nice oatmeal stout tastes amazing with a bit of bold stilton. We often host pairings with local artisan cheese shop, Venissimo Cheese, where guests are taken through a culinary adventure of rich cheese and craft beer. Check out their shop in North Park which is inside Bottlecraft and have your own beer and cheese tasting any day of the week!

Girl Scout Cookies and Beer

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Cookies and Beer? We certainly thought so and put the duo to the test at our recent Girl Scout Cookie Pairing, hosted at the brewery. Coconut and caramel Samoas accompanied our Castaway Coconut Porter, tart lemony Savanna Smiles paired with a crisp, citrusy Tropic Daze IPA and we elevated the often over-looked shortbread cookie, Trefoil with our Belgian, Hipster’s Wit. Each flavor in the cookies can be paired with the complimenting flavors in the beer and once again the pairings of sweets and beer were a delightful surprise.

Ice Cream and Beer

Ice cream floats have been around for a long time with a favorite summer refreshment being ice cream scooped into root beer or Coca-Cola. But another pairing that is a true delight is ice cream beer floats. Top a bold porter with a scoop of rich, vanilla bean ice cream, or a dollop of peanut butter ribbon ice cream in a coffee stout. Even hoppy, tropical, IPAs can get in on the ice cream deal when topped with a lemon or passionfruit sorbet. At your next picnic grab a few pints of your favorite ice cream and a few 22s in a variety of styles and treat your guests to this surprising, sweet combination.

Pickles and Beer

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We couldn’t just play the sweet card here and although the saltiness of the pickle is an easy pick to go with a delicious beer, the two pair so well together we had to give them a shout-out. Possibly this match made in heaven has to do with the fact that both items are fermented and share flavor characteristics of tartness, sour notes and other complex flavors. Furthermore, pickles can even be made with beer as in the case of Farv’s Pickles here in San Diego. He uses a hoppy pale ale to brine the pickles in, lending a slightly bitter yet tart pickle that is down-right addicting.

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