Beer lovers, rejoice! Tuesday, the 7th of April, marks National Beer Day in the United States, and there’s never been a better time to try some different snack pairings.
Although having a pint with your buddies will most likely only be virtual this year on account of the pandemic, that doesn’t mean you can’t get creative in the kitchen and come up with some delicious snack pairings to lift your mood and celebrate this day the best way possible. Here are five creative ideas you need to try out!
You simply cannot go wrong with pretzels, and learning how to make them from scratch will have you playing with different flavors and spices more often than you think!
They’re super easy to make, all you’ll need is all-purpose flour, baking soda, sugar, active dry yeast, and vegetable oil. You can browse through tons of recipes depending on the size and softness of the pretzel, as some like them super buttery and fluffy, and some prefer them darker and firmer. You can even make them gluten-free using oat flour as a substitute, or turn them into pretzel bites that don’t even require yeast. Your choice of dip can be anything from mustard-cheese and chipotle, to sun-dried tomato and garlic-ranch.
When it comes to pairing it with the right beer, some experts agree that soft pretzels and mustard go with dark lagers or Bocks; classic soft pretzels compliment German Märzen or Vienna Bocks; and how pretzels with Cheddar Cheese go with IPAs, Brown Ales, or Pilsner. There’s nothing left but to give it a go!
Yeah, chocolate or vanilla and beer—who would have thunk it! Some beer enthusiasts cannot imagine having a glass of a good stout without it, so that’s where your kitchen skills come into play. You can try as many different variations of cupcakes as you like until you find that perfect, satisfactory pairing.
Probably the easiest recipe calls for:
- 1 3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour (or gluten-free all-purpose flour)
- 3/4 cups cocoa powder
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 2 cups sugar (or coconut sugar)
- 2/3 cup vegetable oil (or coconut oil)
- 1 cup milk (or nut milk)
- 2 eggs lightly beaten (preferably room temperature)
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup hot water
Preheat the oven to 350°F and line muffin tin with cupcake liners (or lightly grease and flour). In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients and add in the vegetable oil and milk, stirring until well combined. Add eggs, one at a time, stirring after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and hot water, until a watery batter forms. Fill the prepared muffin tin holes just over 2/3 and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the toothpick comes out dry. Take the cupcakes out to cool completely before serving or adding frosting on top if you so desire.
Nachos & Guacamole
By now everyone should already know that avocados go well with everything—if chocolate mousse lovers could be fooled, so can everyone else. Beer and nachos aren’t a novelty, but guac is another story, especially to those who’ve never had the pairing. Experts agree that “Austrian-style Vienna lagers pair well with Mexican foods because they’re refreshing, clean tasting, and robust enough to match the cuisine’s bold, intense flavors like those in guacamole.”
Give those ripe avocados a good beating and smash them with some lime juice, diced white onion, chopped cilantro, green tomatillo, salt, and black pepper. Add your favorite brand of nacho chips and crack open that bottle of beer. Perfection awaits!
Bear with us on this one—having sushi with your beer maybe one of the best pleasant surprises you’ve ever given your tastebuds. It’s all about umami, the misterious “fifth taste” that many of us experience, but cannot exactly describe. The intense savoriness and “meatiness” that doesn’t have to do anything with meat at all, umami has a powerful effect on those who experience it, making them really remember the food or meal in question.
Sushi and beer invoke the umami, especially when paired with Japanese rice lagers or even pilsners. The biterness coming from the beer emphasizes the rich salty-sweet and earthy flavors that sushi brings, making the whole experience that much more flavorful.
Making sushi at home isn’t the easiest task, but it definitely doesn’t lack the fun! Here’s what you’ll need:
- 4 sheets sushi seaweed (i.e., nori)
- 2 cups cooked sushi rice
- 1/2 lb sushi-grade raw salmon or desired raw fish of choice (omit for vegetarian version)
- Soy sauce for dipping
- Bamboo mat for making the rolls
- Optional: sliced up vegetables like avocado, zucchini, cucumber, and carrots
- Additions: wasabi paste or pickled ginger
Place one nori sheet (rough side facing up) on the bamboo mat and cover it with an even layer of prepared sushi rice. Smooth gently with the rice paddle, leaving about 0.5 inch free on one side (the rice-free end should be farther from you.)
Place a thin row of salmon and all veggies of choice in the middle of the rice and roll it up tightly. Slice with a sharp knife into even finger-sized pieces, and enjoy with soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger on the side.
Another interesting pairing snack features the crowd-favorite peanuts and Scotch Ale, as this beer’s malt characteristics are “strong and smoky with a touch of sweetness.” Peanut brittle is a known delicacy and can be found in almost every candy shop, but making your own takes it to a whole new level.
You can add your own touch to it, and mix in some different nuts and seeds, sprinkle cinnamon or nutmeg, or make it “healthier” by swapping sugar for coconut sugar. The real kings are peanuts, after all.
This may be a really great time to experiment in the kitchen and organize a virtual beer pairing night with friends and family, playing pretend you’re in a fancy restaurant doing the best beer tasting.