Tips to build a better beer dinner

Written by on April 21, 2015 in Beer - No comments


Jesse Friedman of Almanac Beer Company gave great tips at his “Build a Better Beer Dinner” seminar at last week’s Craft Brewers Conference. I’m sharing them here in hopes of inspiring local chefs and brewers to work together on some amazing concepts that I can put in my belly.

Overall… Partner with people who make exciting food and beer, and who have exciting ideas. Choose a theme for you dinner; It doesn’t really matter what theme is, but it gives you a starting point and something to work toward. Some easy themes Friedman shared include a Beer vs Wine pairing with each course on which the attendees voted or anything seasonal.

For the beer… “Whalez, bro,” as Friedman elegantly put it. In other words, use your most special reserved beers for the dinner! Those barrel-aged, one-off releases – bring ’em. You’re never going to have a more appreciative audience for them. Also consider brewing a small batch something special just for the occasion. Be sure to serve a wide variety of beer and cover as broad a spectrum as you can with styles. And put a beer in people’s hands as quickly as possible when they get to the dinner, everyone will have a better time for it.

For the food… Use beer in the food, but don’t overdue it and force beer into every course. Instead, use sparingly, when it actually emphasizes some flavor of the beer. In addition, consider cooking with raw beer ingredients: spent grain bread, malt brownies, maybe hop soup? A cheese course is your friend. Choose both contrasting and complementing pairings — Friedman recommends The Flavor Bible. Finally, while beef and bacon are delicious, don’t be tied to meat – a vegetarian beer dinner can open up new pairing options.

Friedman final words of wisdon: don’t do a beer dinner. Instead, work with local chocolatiers or coffee roasters or nut roasters or whatever good people in your area are making good things to combine food and beer in new and interesting ways besides a formal sit-down dinner.

About the Author

Cheryl Harrison. Editor of Drink Up Columbus. Co-Founder of the Columbus Ale Trail.

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