Pairing Beer With Spring and Summer Foods

To help lure guests indoors when the weather heats up, operators are offering innovative foods and beverages that pair well together. 

That means more than a pale beer and a salad, as today's consumers are also seeking variety and bold flavors.

For the spring and summer months, operators have devised food and beer pairings that accentuate the flavors of both

Drive traffic on slow days of the week

Mondays tend to be slow days, so to boost traffic, Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails in Jacksonville, Fla., features a Burger + Bourbon or Beer promotion. For $10, diners can choose a 4-ounce, house-ground Moxie Burger with lemon-herb french fries, and one of seven rotating local draft beers on tap, or Four Roses Yellow Label Bourbon.

To encourage guests to taste some local drafts, the restaurant also offers beer flights, and pairs them with $5 Happy Hour Bar Bites, which include:

  • Housemade pimento cheese toast
  • Cheddar biscuit tots
  • Bloomin' Brussels sprouts
  • Lemon-herb french fries

Milwaukee restaurant Odd Duck recently opened an event space called Little Duck Kitchen, where it hosts a beverage-and-snack pairing series called Quack Snacks on the first Monday of each month. For April 1 the theme was Big Beers & Bar Food. “We are pouring beers that are bottled in large-format wine-size bottles by the glass and pairing them with decadent bar food,” says Melissa Buchholz, Odd Duck owner.

One example of a decadent bar food and beer pairing was Foie Gras Poutine with french fries, foie gras gravy, cheese curds and seared foie gras, paired with The Bruery's Rueuze Sour Blonde Ale from California. “The high acid and fruity dryness of this beer cuts right through the fatty richness of the poutine,” Buchholz says.

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Highlight the season with fruits and vegetables

Citrus is a popular flavor for summer in food and in beer. At Taxman Brewing Company, with locations in the Indianapolis area, spring and summer beers focus on citrus, berries and brighter hops. One of Taxman’s most popular spring beers is Margarita-style Spin-Off, which is a crisp and tart house kettle sour featuring lime, lemon and orange peel, a pinch of salt and the subtle note of tequila barrels. Also popular during the summer are house beers like Wit-Held, a Belgian wheat beer, and Exemption, a Belgian-style tripel, or strong pale ale.

“They're fresh, citrus-forward and easy on the palate as we head into warmer temperatures,” says Leah Huelsebusch, co-owner. These pair well with the Belgian frites, which are double-fried and served with two sauces.

Suggest specific pairings

The key to these sales is training servers to make specific recommendations. “They don’t come to the table and say, 'Do you want a nice, cold beer,'” says Andy LiButti, co-owner of Booty's Wings Burgers & Beer, with locations in Surprise and Buckeye, Ariz. “They say, 'How about a nice cold Shock Top [Belgian style wheat ale] to go with your mac and cheese bites or mushroom buttons,”

Whether it’s an innovative pairing of a bold-flavored menu item with a new local beer, or a recommendation to order a seasonal craft beer with a popular spring and summer menu item, beer and food pairings are a great way to get people to come indoors or enjoy on your outdoor patio. For tips on how to pair beer with menu favorites