Ale House Pairings
If you’re looking for the perfect beer to go with your meal, your quest might deliver you to The Bronx Alehouse in the Kingsbridge neighborhood, with a rotating array of 17 beers on tap (including one cask) and a menu known for its wings and smoked meats. On any given day, you can find people at the bar and high-top tables, packing in piled-high plates of food washed down with a tantalizing variety of suds.
Manager Dave Lindsay, who helps select the ever-changing variety, knows a few things about pairing food with beer, and offered his advice on the subject, which is close to his heart.
First, he says, start with the food.
“Whenever I’m pairing something, I like to have the food as the focus,” he says.
You can find a brew to complement your grub, he says, or you can have fun experimenting with contrasting flavors.
He says that rich, sweet and savory foods tend to pair nicely with beers that have some of the same qualities, like many stouts. Spicy foods tend to match well with IPAs.
When working with contrasting tastes—pairing a sour beer with a sweet food, for example –it’s “much more of a challenge” than working with similar flavors. But the upside is that “you’re going to notice things differently in the beer than you would if you drank the beer on its own,” he says.
Lindsay cautions, however, that beer with “huge flavors and aroma” might overshadow subtler-tasting foods.
If you want to play it safe, lighter beers are a good bet for pairing well with most foods. Lindsay says that is one reason restaurants for a long time tended to carry only imported light beers and domestic light lagers. “These beers will play second fiddle to any food item,” he says. “The subtle flavors of the beer will not compete against the food in any way.”
So consider a German Kolsch or maybe a Hefeweizen to go with a chopped salad or plain fries, but a stout to go with your ribs.
He says that since beer is carbonated, “each sip cleans off the fats from your tongue and palate, making you want more,” so he recommends choosing beer to go with your next cheese plate.
“Not only will it pair with the cheese itself but it also cleans the palate off for the next bite,” he says.
He advises matching a “funky” blue cheese with a barley wine ale, and he also put together a guide of pairings from the Bronx Alehouse menu to try on for size. But, he says, use your taste buds as your own guide and “If it works, it works.”
Stout: Your favorite Brisket Sandwich, BBQ Wings, Steak Sandwich, Garlic Fries
IPA: Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, Bronx Wings, Jerk Wings, Jerk Bites, Cajun Fries
Hefeweizen: Fish Tacos, Chopped Salad, Veggie Burger
Kolsch (light German Ale): Grilled Chicken Sandwich, Regular Fries
Imperial Stout: Chicken and Waffle Grilled Cheese (with Maple Syrup), Ribs
Imperial IPA (because many tend to be both malty and bitter): Drunken Onion Burger (with Gorgonzola Cheese), Brisket Sandwich, Angry Wings (Gochujang-based Korean Hot Sauce)