Food and Beer Pairings: the Full Sunset Article

Sunset Magazine published a small piece of mine in their October issue. Smaller, it turns out, than they requested or than I submitted. It seems that the photo beguiled the editors so much that they didn't want my words junking things up. I've been getting compliments from folks who have seen it (and there are a lot of you--apparently everyone subscribes to the magazine), but I can barely take credit, so stripped down did the resulting piece become. (Has Gordon Lish become a verb yet? I was Lished!)

Anyway, here's the text I actually sent in.


When pairing beer with food, let the “three C’s” be your guide--beers that cut, contrast, or compliment each course. Drier Belgian-style ales, increasingly brewed locally, are especially versatile. And remember, you don’t have to drink a whole bottle with each course--try splitting one with a companion.

Upright Four, 4.5% (ABV), Belgian-style farmhouse ale
Available only in Portland

Description. A rustic style, but a subtle beer. French yeast and sour-mash fermentation create a tart refresher with notes of lavender, pepper, and citrus.

Pairing. Starters. The beer’s mild acid cuts through the richness of soft cheese or contrasts an apple’s sugar.

Elysian “The Wise” ESB, 5.9%, English-style Extra Special Bitter
Available in Washington and Oregon

Description. Starts out English--lush, creamy, and toasty--but ends with bright Northwestern hopping that tends toward fresh orange.

Pairing. Skip the traditional fish and pair with balsamic-dressed salad; the vinegar draws out a honey note and brightens the citrusy hops.

Sierra Nevada Kellerweis, 4.8%, Bavarian-style weisse
Available nationwide

Description. Brewed with a Bavarian yeast, this weisse features classic banana and clove notes, but also lemon and almond in the dry finish.

Pairing. Comfort food, especially barbecued or cured meats; with smoked bratwurst, the sausage’s spice complements the beer’s clove.

Deschutes Black Butte Porter, 5.2%, English-style porter
Available throughout the West

Description. A harmony of flavors: a mouthful of this silky black brew delivers equal parts chocolate and roast malt.

Pairing. Simple shellfish dishes, especially steamed mussels. The fish’s brine finds a contrasting tangy sweetness in the gentle porter.

Cascade Kriek, 8.1%, Belgian-style fruit lambic
Available only in Portland

Description. In sour lambic-style ales, the fruit’s sugars are consumed by wild yeasts, leaving just the intoxicating cherry essence.

Pairing. Dark chocolate. Trust the Belgians to perfect this pairing--the intense flavors harmonize as pure decadence.