Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Beer-food pairing notes from Myrtle Beach

The night before the beer fest, I went to the Brewmasters Dinner at TBonz Gill & Grill in Myrtle Beach.

The five-course dinner was hosted by Epstein of New South Brewing, which makes the TBonz brand beers.

As the evening progressed, Epstein offered some pointers worth passing along.

1. Beer-and-food pairings are subjective, but the first rule is simple: “The stronger the flavor, the stronger the beer,” Epstein said. So lighter beers went with lighter fare. The Lowcountry Light Lager was paired with the Tomato Florentine Soup, and the Market Street Wheat went with the salad.

2. Spicy foods – like beer-boiled shrimp with Old Bay or calamari with a spicy marinara sauce – go well with beers like the India Pale Ale, which relies on the bitterness of hops. (That bitterness will strike some palates as spicy.)

3. For steaks, you probably want something robust, like a red ale. “The red still has a little bit of a hop bite to it, but it relies more on malt character,” Epstein said. The Cooper River Red paired well with the New York Strip.

The big surprise for me: Irish Stout is sublime with cheesecake drizzled with chocolate sauce.

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