DIY Pairings

Beer and Cheese are Awesome

Cheese, Chocolate and Oyster tables let you devise your own craft beer and food masterpieces

If you’re a SAVOR fan, chances are you’ve already tried your hand at craft beer and food pairings. Maybe you’re looking for inspiration in this year’s tasting hall to liven up your next gathering. Why not get a head-start at the Artisan Cheese Table, Green & Blacks Chocolate station or the Choptank Oyster Bar? At these three spots, you’ll find a blank slate of pairing opportunities with delicious products. Not sure how to get started? We can point you in the right direction!

Forget the stuffy concept of wine and cheese. By most accounts, craft beer is a far more versatile partner for cheese of any variety. The American Cheese Society has been a fixture at SAVOR for many years, and they return again with an astonishing slate of nearly 25 different creameries from around the country. It would take multiple, lengthy pages to talk about the intricacies of beer and cheese pairing, so we’ll keep it brief and point you to CraftBeer.com’s beer and cheese section. Culinary ace Janet Fletcher has an excellent video on the topic as well, and she’ll speaking at a SAVOR salon alongside Stone Brewing Co.’s Greg Koch.

Chocolate and beer may seem like strange bedfellows, but they’ve got a lot in common. Like beer, chocolate requires fermentation. This is how the cacao seed’s flavor is developed in the start of the process. Garden-variety chocolate can be tooth-achingly sweet, but much of what you’ll find from Green & Black’s has a higher cocoa content, creating that pleasant balance between sweet and bitter—sound familiar? Yes, beer has the same sort of balance. Many chocolate pairings rely on dark beers, like porters and stouts, whose roasty flavor and chocolate undertones complement a piece of Green & Black’s. You might also pair chocolate with a barleywine, especially if the beer is given time to warm up, to bring out the biscuit and hop flavors, adding an element of contrast to the pairing, while complementing the chocolate’s bitterness. A word of caution: beers brewed with real chocolate are often not perfect pairings. Though it seems logical, the two prominent chocolate flavors are liable to fight for territory on your palate.

If tuna is the chicken of the sea, then oysters must be the pork belly of the ocean. What to pair with these things that look so weird but taste so good? If you’re riffing on the traditional champagne pairing, we’d suggest a golden Belgian ale, like a saison or tripel with plenty of effervescence to cut the meat’s richness. The fruity flavors derived from Belgian yeast can also contrast nicely with the oyster’s briny flavor. We’d be remiss if we didn’t tip our hat to the classic stout and oyster pairing. Tasting is believing to see how the beer’s dark, roasty malt plays off the salty sea flavors. Choptank offers two different varieties of oyster—one salty, one sweeter—so, ask the shuckers what they’ve got and see how they interact with the different beers.

Don’t be afraid! Even if you aren’t a beer and food wizard like Chef Adam, you too can create excellent pairings. Be adventurous. Experiment. Have fun!

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