This is a sponsored post in partnership with Tavour
Anyone can feel comfortable pairing their dinner with a craft beer at home, thanks to online retailer Tavour. Their beer delivery service includes some of the most highly rated Stouts, IPAs, and Sours on the market for you to pick and pair with your meals!
From the moment you choose your brews to the moment they land on your doorstep, Tavour is there to bring you a great craft beer experience. That’s why they spoke with acclaimed Seattle-based chef, five-time James Beard Award semi-finalist, and Top Chef contestant Jason Stratton to get some inside info on how to master pairings at home. Stratton has over 25 years of chef experience under his belt and he’s run the show behind the scenes at some of Seattle’s most acclaimed restaurants.
Needless to say, Stratton has good taste. Just recently, he took over the kitchen at Seattle’s award-winning Standard Brewing as their new chef. Standard is a beloved neighborhood brewery and a Seattle staple — they’re also a favorite brewery on Tavour. People can’t help but rave about the friendly staff, the top-notch food, and their deliciously offbeat beer selection.
It may seem like a wild change of pace for a chef whose previous experience in pairings dealt mostly in wines and cocktails, but Stratton has much to offer. He explains how his decorated culinary past influences the way he designs Standard’s dishes in order to build a unique and exciting experience for guests:
“It’s funny, I’ve been in fine dining for so long, and I’ve always loved beer,” says Stratton. “A lot of the regions I’m drawn to — Italy, France, Lebanon — they all have a very specific beer culture. I wanted to consider what other beer-drinking cultures are incorporating into their meals, to see how they do it, and then to see how we can play with that at Standard.”
As chef of the neighborhood hotspot for brews and bites, Stratton tends to get to know a guest’s likes and dislikes when helping them pair their meal with a brew. “It’s great to get them out of their comfort zone,” he says.
When it comes to stepping outside of one’s comfort zone to find the perfect craft beer for pairing, Tavour offers a wide range of uncommon and hard-to-find brews to get you there. This includes everything from Oat Cream IPAs, to Saisons brewed with oyster mushrooms, to Standard’s own Rauchbier-style Lager made with malts that they smoked over hazelnut shells!
Approximately 2,720 miles away in Purcellville, Virginia, there’s another brewery that’s well-known for crafting show-stopping beers and providing great pairing suggestions. Adroit Theory places food pairings on the labels of nearly all their highly-coveted craft beers — the vast majority of which are only available in the taproom, and through Tavour. A great example of their pairing suggestions is for Adroit’s flagship Russian Imperial Stout, Dia De Los Muertos. They recommend drinking it with vanilla-coffee rubbed sirloin with roasted baby potatoes and molasses air for a meal, l’Amuse Signature gouda for a cheese, and a Camacho Corojo Maduro cigar (if you’re into that sorta thing).
Head brewer and owner, Mark Osborne, echoes Stratton’s advice on pairings. He stresses the importance of thinking in terms of “Similar Flavor Profiles (sweet with sweet), Opposite Flavors (sweet with sour), and Balancing Flavors (sweet with salty). I think it’s always best to start with the beer flavors since there are so many more food options. Decide what flavor aspect of the beer you want to focus on (bitter, sweet, roast, etc) then decide which of the three options (or the many others) you want to employ to counterbalance the equation.”
Osborne says there are three classic beer styles you may want to have on hand to pair with a host of different dishes: “bitter (West Coast style IPA), funky (Saison), and roasty (Imperial Stout).”
“Obviously there are a multitude of other flavors in beer,” he concedes, “but these three cover 90% of all food choices.”
Back at Standard, Jason Stratton finds that the funky beers, in particular, offer some of the most exciting and successful pairing possibilities. “They provide a lot of different elements that make it really food-friendly,” he explains. “High acid is really great for anything when pairing things, and these beers have that. That funky wildness is a lot of fun to pair as well, because you can get a little esoteric, if you want.”
Right now, Stratton’s favorite funky Sour beer from Standard is their Left Hand Path — an Ale that’s first aged in oak and then rests on sangiovese wine lees (or grape skins). He describes his favorite food to pair it with, too: Standard’s braised beef tongue taco served in the Lebanese style. In addition to the braised tongue, he serves an assemblage of strained yogurt, caramelized onions, and pomegranate molasses. “It’s a rich beer, so the beer can cut through the richness of the tongue,” Stratton explains. “And the pomegranate molasses has this sharp but really sweet element that I think really compliments the tartness of the Left Hand Path.”
These guys may be experts, but pairing craft beer with your own meals at home is nothing to be afraid of. To start, go with some beers from a brewery whose stuff you really enjoy. You can find hundreds of breweries on Tavour to get you started. Then, start experimenting! Whatever you don’t like, make a note of it. But, try to give it at least two more tries before you completely move on (tastes change, and you never know when you might be having an off-day)!
Or, you can start with something small, like pairing your beer with cheese. In the words of Mark Osborne, “cheeses can be complex, but not nearly as complicated as multi-ingredient main courses. And the ‘right’ cheese with the ‘right’ beer can make both better than they are individually.”
No matter how you start your craft beer and food pairings, Tavour is there to bring you the best beers around so you can have a great experience. In the end, it’s all about keeping an open mind and just trying things out. Worst case scenario, you drink a great beer and eat a nice meal