The art of the beer pairing

Craft beer is increasingly acknowledged for exactly what it is: a craft. Just like cooking can be considered a form of art, the process of brewing, experimenting with barley, yeast, hops and everything else you can add to a beer from nuts to chocolate to vegetables, takes a creative mind and culinary prowess. The best brewers are constantly thinking and rethinking their recipes; experimenting with beer is not only fun, but it’s necessary in a market that’s as competitive as it is creative.

So as the “craft” aspect of craft beer becomes more widely recognized, the idea of beer pairings also begins to really take hold. No longer does one have to be a “wine person” in order to hold a glass with their pinky up and say something like, “Mmm, the fruity notes of this drink really complement this spinach-arugula.” You can do that with beer!

(And if you’re interested in learning more about what-beer-pairs-well-with-what-food, the Brewer’s Association has a handy chart here.)

Innovative dishes and local brews to match: Friday’s beer pairing dinner at 99 Sea Level

99 Sea Level’s assorted cheese board. We had to try a few of the dishes for ourselves… For work, of course. It’s a tough job but somebody’s gotta do it.

Building anticipation for our Beer at Bethany Festival at Bethany Beach Ocean Suites this Saturday is a Friday night beer dinner at the restaurant within the hotel, 99 Sea Level.

Chef Danio Samoza has been cooking at 99 Sea Level since the restaurant first opened, and has claimed Culinary Coast’s Top Chef title for two consecutive years. For the upcoming beer dinner, he says he chose courses based off their menu’s top-selling dishes. He and the restaurant’s Director of Operations, Donna Serafini, worked together to choose the beers, as they’ve done in the past at their beer, wine and even bourbon-paired dinners.

“Everything is refined so that people can try new things,” Somoza has explained about his menu. “Whether it’s to try a fresh oyster for the first time, or try something they are already familiar with, pairing it with a new wine.” Or maybe a new beer…

Here’s what’s on the menu for Friday night’s beer pairing dinner. Tickets are available on the restaurant’s website here.

Click the image for full-size.

First course

Bacon Confit Jalapeno Cheese Ball paired with Mispillion’s Space Otter.

Space Otter is a pale ale (5% ABV) brewed with Azacca and Citra hops that lend itself to the beer’s fruity notes. Ales are known for pairing well with all kinds of meats and cheeses, and their carbonization is known for cutting through more fatty dishes like the confit.

Second course

Alaskan halibut paired with Evo’s Lot 3. 

Lot 3 (6.8% ABV) is an American IPA, hopped at a rate of over 2 lbs per barrel and with an IBU, so it’s a pretty hoppy beer. That hoppiness works well with spicier flavors, like the red curry carrot broth served with the halibut.

Third course

Crackling pork belly paired with Big Oyster’s Noir et Bleu. 

Belgian Tripels like Noir et Bleu (9% ABV) pair well with intense flavors, which makes it perfect for the crackling pork belly. Noir et Bleu is infused with dried blackberries and black tea, which will taste especially great with the pork belly’s maple ginger wine glaze.

There’s a reason why these are the restaurant’s top-selling dishes, trust me.

Fourth course

Wild Nantucket scallops paired with Dogfish’s Lupu-Luau IPA.

The Lupu-Luau (7.3% ABV) is another American IPA, this one brewed with toasted coconut and dehydrated coconut water with aromas that Dogfish describes as “coconut and woody.” That sweeter side of the Lupu-Luau will accentuate a dish’s sweeter flavors, like the pear perfume of viola of the Nantucket scallops.

Fifth course

Wild Wing osso buco paired with Dewey Beer Co’s Secret Machine. 

Secret Machine (6.4% ABV) is a boysenberry/blueberry/pomegranate sour ale. Sour ales can be difficult to pair with food, but are known to go well with stronger “stinkier” cheeses, like the bleu cheese of the wild wing osso bucco.

Dessert course

Waffle iron churros paired with Revelation’s Brother Phineas Irish Stout.

It’s no secret that stouts are a sweet dessert’s best friend, and the Brother Phineas Irish Stout (4.3% ABV) will especially aspect the chocolate strawberry aspect of the waffle iron churros. Stout + sugar = heaven.

Kristin Helf
Author: Kristin Helf

Kristin is a writer and picture-taker in Ocean City, Maryland. She likes puppies, pumpkin ales and watching movies for the Ocean City Film Festival in her spare time.

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