food.pairing: The Big Game


I just learned that the “S” and “B” word used together are trademarked and shouldn’t be mentioned together or in conjunction with each other unless I wanted a cease and desist order.  Oooops! So I am going to refer to the biggest football game the NFL plays each year, you know the one I am talking about, the one that is so SUPER big that it can’t possibly live up to the hype and that most of the people watching the game are only interested in what kind of dip is in that BOWL and the commercials that air during TV breaks, as The Big Game.

Make this year really special for all of your friends that are coming over to watch… “The Big Game” and don’t serve any light beers! You know the ones I am talking about. Instead try some of the pairings below and start exploring how flavorful beers can intensify, complement or even subdue flavors in your halftime snacks.

New England Cuisine Pairings:

Oysters: Dry Stouts: The intense roasty flavors (coffee, bitter chocolate) in these stouts can briefly intensify the saline, sea tastes in the oysters while the subtle chocolate flavors and perceived bitterness cleanses the palate.  Examples: Guinness Draught, Beamish Stout, Oyster stouts are a double whammy (Rogue, Dogfish Head)

Mussels: Witbiers:  The mild wheat and subtle spice and/or citrus flavors can complement the mussels especially if they were steamed in that particular beer. The beer’s flavors won’t cover up and of the mussel flavors, however, the elevated carbonation and dry finish will cleanse the palate.  Examples: Hoegaarden, Allagash White, Avery White Rascal, Unibroue Blanche de Chambly.

Dunkin’ Donuts: Chocolate Frosting Glazed: Milk/Oatmeal Stouts, Brown Porters.  The sweet chocolaty flavors and velvet textures found in these beers are perfect matches for donuts with or without chocolate frosting but why would you want to eat a donut with out chocolate frosting?  Examples: Sam Adams Cram Stout, Left Hand Milk Stout, Young’s Oatmeal Stout, Fullers Porter.

Click HERE to listen to my New England Patriots halftime paring segement on Bo’s Man Cave! (link will open to a file on HopHeadSaid.com)

New York Cuisine:

Pizza: American Pale, Amber or Brown Ales: Any of these beers will have elevated hops, alcohol and carbonation which will help cleanse the palate.  Also, all of these beers use a similar base malt and that malt imparts a toasty flavor that will resonate with the pizza crust. If the pizza is especially savory (lots of cheese) go with a pale ale.  If the pizza has caramelized toppings then try an Amber because the malt used will resonate with those flavors as well as provide a residual sweetness.  If the pizza has meat (every pizza should) then go for a brown ale as the grilled meats will resonate with the darker malts used in brewing.  Examples: Pale Ales (Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Stone Pale Ale, Full Sail Pale Ale) Amber Ales (North Coast Read seal Ale, Anderson Valley Boont Amber), Brown Ales (Big Sky Moose Drool, Lost Coast Downtown Brown)

Bagels and Lox: Ideally, pair with Bohemian Pilseners sometimes called BoPils but any quality pilsner will do.  Do not get these confused with the Bud, Miller or Coors these are American style lagers.  The malt used in brewing a pilsner will has a soft grainy flavor that will resonate with the bagel while the spicy hop flavor will add a new layer of intrigue to the salmon.  The crisp dry finish will cleanse the palate of the cream cheese and the prominent salmon flavors.  Examples: Pilsner Urquell,

Cheesecake:  Pair BIG beers with this desert! These pairings will blow your calorie allotment for the week so throw your calorie caution to the wind or go home! Pair Imperial IPA’s with caramel or candied toppings.  The malt used in these sweet IPAs will resonate with the caramel. Pair Imperial Stouts with chocolate or dark fruits toppings or fillings. The chocolaty/coffee flavors in these beers will resonate with these fillings beautifully.  Examples: Imperial IPA’s: Firestone Walker Double Jack, Great Divide Hercules, Moylan’s Hopsickle.  Imperial Stouts: Great Divide Yeti, Avery The Czar, Oskar Blues TenFiddy.\

Click HERE to listen to my New York Giants halftime paring segement on Bo’s Man Cave! (link will open to a file on HopHeadSaid.com)

Don’t forget to vote for your favorite brewery!  Leave your team or conference pride/loyalty out of this and choose the brewery you think has the best beer.  The polls will close this Sunday at noon (PST).  So far the polls have correctly picked 60% of the playoff games lets see how this week turns out!

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  1. I need to add Barley Wines to the Cheesecakes. American Barley wines pair well with these deserts because they have a lot of residual sweetness but they also tend to have quite a bit of hops to balance the sweetness of the beer and that bitterness also contrasts the sweetness in the cheesecakes.

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