How to Pair Beer with 10 Classic Summer Picnic Foods

The sun is shining, there’s a cool breeze in the air, and you don’t have anywhere to be. That sounds like the perfect recipe for a picnic. Loading up the basket full of the classic picnic food staples, there’s one thing you can’t forget, the craft beer! With so many beer styles out there, it may be hard to decide which will go best with your spread. Should you go for a summer wheat beer? Or maybe a fruity saison would pair nicely? So many choices!

When it comes to beer and food pairings, you want a beer that will compliment your food without overpowering it. The two need to be in harmony, matching flavors along with strength. A beer can add flavor the food is lacking, but should never overpower it. You’ll find that the combination of the right beer with the right food will change your perception of how you taste.

Here to make life easier, we matched up your classic picnic fare with an accompanying beer for a fabulous picnic pairing.

1. Fried Chicken + Mama’s Lil Yella Pils

Leaf Mama alone. #🍺🍂 📷: @emilyeunice

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When you’re munching on a crispy, tender piece of fried chicken, nothing could be better than pairing it with a lager. A light beer like Oskar Blue’s Mama’s Lil Yella Pils will wash down the fat and salt without taking it over. Mama’s Lil Yella Pils has a light bodied that pairs scrumptuosly with fried chicken.

Like most pilsners, Mama’s is gently hopped with Saaz hops, giving you the slight bite you need to cut through the fat – without leaving you with a totally hop-bombed palate. Clean, crisp, and downright refreshing, these two were meant for one another.

2. Pasta Salad + Blazing World

Crisp cucumbers, salty olives, juicy tomatoes, and carb-filled pasta topped in a vinaigrette create one savory pasta salad. With a variety of flavors coming together in this dish, you need a beer that can let the vegetables shine while also blending with the acidity of the vinaigrette.

In other words, you need Modern Times Blazing World. The hops will help cut through the acidity while the bitterness goes nicely with the bite of the olives. Unlike a full-blown IPA, ambers are not all bitter. Blazing World has a sweet, fruity quality balanced along with a bready malt backbone. The combination of sweet, bitter, and bready is on par with the wonderful flavors melding together in your pasta salad.

3. Potato Salad + The Regulator

Thanks Justin & Lexis . #rahrbrewing #craftbeer

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Here in America, we love our potato salad. It’s that side that goes with any BBQ and the one you choose when you get your sandwich to-go. It’s also the rich summer salad that always happens to find its way into your picnic basket. While there are many ways to make it, a mayo-based salad is a classic. Creamy, salty, and a carb lovers dream, potato salad needs a beer that matches its richness.

In this case, opt for a dopplebock like Rarh & Sons Brewing’s The Regulator. Full-bodied with a strong malt backbone, the creaminess of the potato salad enhances the sweetness of The Regulator. This flavor combination makes it the optimum choice for your picnic pairing.

4. Pulled Pork + Duet

Juicy pulled pork that took hours to prepare needs a beer that can stand up to its succulent flavor. With a fatty food like this, you need a beer that can cut through the fat without overwhelming the delicacy of the meat. In this case, Alpine Beer Company’s Duet would be your go to brew.

The hoppy bitterness will stand up to the fat, and create a tantalizing flavor combination that will send your taste buds for a ride. One sip and you’ll notice the balance in the pairing that brings out a complex finish in the beer. And with Alpine Pub specializing in some tasty pork centric grub themselves, you know these guys know what they’re doing.

5. Corn on the Cob + White Rascal

Simple pleasures in life. Sunshine, a patio, and White Rascal. #whiterascalwednesday #wheresthatrascal

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Corn on the cob and glorious weather go hand-in-hand. When you’re packing up the picnic basket, don’t forget to grab a can of Avery’s White Rascal to go with it. The sweetness of corn is enhanced in the grilling process.

White Rascal is light enough to compliment that sweetness, while bringing it’s own nuances to the table. Notes of coriander and orange peel will compliment the light flavors of the corn, without destroying your pallet.

6. Macaroni and Cheese + Anvil ESB

Gooey, creamy, and downright comforting, macaroni & cheese is that dish you can’t resist when you head out on a picnic. And the beer to go with it? Why, that’s just as irresistible. AleSmith’s Anvil ESB and a cheesy mac is the perfect duo. When you have a rich dish like macaroni and cheese, you need a beer that won’t enhance the creamy factor, sending your taste buds on overdrive with richness.

The malty, bitter bite of the ESB contrasts the creaminess of the mac and cheese in the most desirable way. The Anvil ESB was made for creaminess with its bold profile of English hops and British malts. With a touch of caramelization, even a cheap box of mac and cheese will be like having a gourmet dining experience thanks to the Anvil ESB.

7. Deviled Eggs + Hennipen

When it comes to deviled eggs, you want a beer that’s effervescent and crisp. That’s why Ommegang’s Hennipen is a match made in heaven for those sinful deviled eggs. This saison is a rustic golden ale has a champagne-like effervescence that pairs beautifully with the umami taste of deviled eggs.

Since classic deviled eggs are relatively simplistic, the contrast of the hint of orange peel, kick of ginger, and bite from the hops will add more complexity to the pairing.

8. Cheese Board + Allagash Tripel

It simply wouldn’t be a picnic without a smorgasbord of cheese, crackers, bread, and some grapes to go along. When selecting your cheese, you could go for some soft cheese like brie or havarti, and maybe throw in some harder cheeses like asiago or an aged white cheddar. Each has its own distinct flavor profile that can pair better with beer than your favorite red wine.

The hard part is when it comes to pairing the options can be endless. With the nutty, creamy, and pungent flavors of cheese, you want a beer that won’t hide the complexity. If you find yourself with an array of cheese, go with a Belgian beer like Allagash Tripel. The fruity aroma and herbal characteristics will pair nicely with the nuances of the cheeses. The two will bring out the best in each other like the ideal married couple.

9. Fruit Salad + Easy Street Wheat

local brew :: easy street wheat beer

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Fruit salad? Wheat beer? Now that’s the makings for a luxurious meadow scenery picnic. The two are as refreshing as drinking a tall glass of iced cucumber water. Together, they were meant for a sunny day.

To enjoy your fruit medley to the fullest, pair it with Odell’s Easy Street Wheat. The subtle fruit notes balanced with the unmistakable wheat malt will let the flavor of your salad shine. And the lower ABV of 4.6% means you can enjoy the sunshine without needing to take a siesta.

10. Cured Meats & La Folie

Words can not express my happiness!!! #NewBelgium #NewBelgiumLaFolie #LaFolie #LipsOfFaith #CraftBeer #BeerPorn #SourBeer

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With bold flavors, you need a bold beer. Fatty, salty cured meats require a beer that can cut through each bite, while holding up on its own. And if that beer has a touch of acidity to breakdown the fat, well then all the more better. The beer you need in this case is New Belgium’s La Folie.

This Flander’s style sour brown ale has a sharp tang that compliments the fat of the meat. The fruity notes of plum, cherry, and green apple go well with the cured meats, bringing a new flavor combination to the table that other beers would fail to. You’ll notice how drinking La Folie with cured meat creates savory, umami notes that enhance your tasting experience sending your taste buds dancing with delight.

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