Epic Game Day Food + Brew Pairings

Get ready for it, this coming Sunday night is Super Bowl LI! Whether your team made it or not, millions will be watching the game. What this really means is lots of beer and even more food! Nachos, wings, and pizza will adorn coffee tables all across America, as well as the obligatory light lagers. This year, let’s see if we can’t mix things up and make something memorable with a few great beer pairings to go along with those ubiquitous snacks. Choosing the right beers to go with each food can really highlight both the brew and the munchies.

Wings

The humble wing is a mainstay of any Super Bowl gathering. Whether you have hot or mild wings, there is a beer that will make them sing. If you have a penchant for pain and have sourced the hottest wings you can find, try an American IPA or Pale Ale. The hops will be able to stand up to the intense heat, and the caramel malts will cut the salinity of the wing nicely. If mild and sweet/salty/savory/whatever works here wings are more your style, try a Pilsner or Cream Ale. The maltiness of these will hold up well to the salt, just as it does with the IPAs and hot wings, but the lighter flavors of the brew will not mask the taste of the wing.

If you are the cooking sort, try making your own wings. After the article is a recipe for some really great beer brined wings that will quickly become the star of the game.

Nachos

If your get together runs out of nachos (or worse, you didn’t have any to begin with!), then you’ve violated an unwritten law of viewing parties. To avoid this indiscretion, be safe and make sure you have plenty of chips, dips and guacamole on hand. For pairings, the world is your oyster. Almost any beer will pair well, but here are a few suggestions for something new and exciting. Try serving a Witbier or Hefeweizen with your spicy cheese dip. The banana and clove flavors from the beer will add a much loved complexity to the run-of-the-mill nacho. If going with a guacamole-based dip, try an American Amber Ale. The increased hop bitterness will help to cut the richness of the avocados, but the caramel notes will balance the spice and salt.

If you like attention, really kick things up and make your own beer-infused queso! Recipe at the end of the article.

Pizza

Some parties look like catered events, complete with chafing dishes full of dips, sauces, wings, meatballs, and everything else under the sun. If you are like me (i.e lazy), your get togethers are less intricate events. I like to pick up a few cold ones and have the local pizza joint do all my cooking. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once wrote “In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity.” I for one, couldn’t agree more! But just because you ordered pizza doesn’t mean you are relegated to bad beer to go with it. There are a litany of great choice for delivery pizza pairings. Try a big Double IPA with your meat lovers. The high bitterness and huge hop profile will cut right through all of the grease. If going with a classic Margherita, try a lighter beer such as a pilsner or an English pale ale. Lighter beers will not mask the great fresh and subtle flavors of the tomatoes and mozzarella.

Hopefully I have given you a few ideas to spice things up this Sunday night! However, keep in mind that these pairings are simply suggestions. In the end, the right beer pairing comes from the one you like best. Cheers!

Beer Brined Wings

Ingredients

3 lbs chicken wings
2 bottles Stout, Porter, or any sweeter beer
1 Tbsp kosher salt
1 Tbsp crushed red pepper flakes

Sauce

1/3 cup your favorite hot sauce
1 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Instructions
In a large glass or plastic bowl, combine the beer, salt, and red pepper flakes. Stir until the salt is dissolved in the beer and gently submerge the wings in the brine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 12 hours.
Drain the brine from the wings. Place a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet and arrange the wings on the rack. Pat each of the wings dry with a paper towel and return to the fridge. Allow the wings to dry in the fridge for 3-4 hours. This will take some of the moisture out of the skin and give you crispy skin.
Bake at 350 degrees until the wings reach an internal temp of 165 degrees, about 20-35 minutes
In a small saucepan, combine the brown sugar and wing sauce. Bring to a simmer (not a boil) stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves. Turn off the heat and stir in the butter. Set aside until the wings are cooked.
As soon as the wings are done, toss them in the sauce and serve immediately!

Beer Queso Dip

Ingredients

2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup pale beer (it can be any style, pick your favorite)
1 habanero, split
2 cups cheddar, shredded
2 cups monterey jack, shredded
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 red onion, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup diced tomatoes
1 jalapeño, diced
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Instructions

Melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add in the flour and whisk. Cook this while stirring constantly for about 5 minutes. Add in heavy cream, beer and split habanero. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture begins to thicken, being careful not to boil. Remove habanero carefully.
Stir in cheese in thirds, letting each addition melt before adding the next. When cheese is fully melted, turn off heat and fold in sour cream.
If serving immediately, fold in diced vegetables, otherwise refrigerate cheese mixture separately and add vegetables in after reheating. Top with fresh cilantro.

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