Say you’re invited to a dinner party tonight. What do you bring?
A bottle of red or white? That bottle of boutique bourbon your cool uncle bought you that’s still waiting for its perfect moment?
We’re likely biased, but we’re of the opinion that beer pairs just as well with food (if not better) than a fine wine. Sour beers—what we tend to think of as the slow food equivalent to the beer world—pair particularly well. These beers have a complexity of flavors, acidity, and aromas that work together to complement or contrast your favorite ingredients in a way that wine might.
We put that not-so-crazy hypothesis to the test a few weeks ago during our 2017 Chicago Sours Week when we hosted a pop-up dinner party in an AirBnb loft with Chef Abra Berens. Five courses. Five sour beers. Game on.
Tables were set. Cuisine was prepped. Beer was poured. At the strike of 7pm, our guests started arriving. The loft offered an eclectic, ambient backdrop for an otherwise casually chic set-up.
Chef Abra Berens is the Executive Chef at Local Foods Chicago and co-founder of Bare Knuckle Farm in Northport, MI. With her affinity for locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients (many of which she grows herself), we couldn’t have picked a chef more after our own hearts.
All of the courses paired well beyond our imaginations and palates. Peach’s stone fruit flavors complemented the creaminess of the goat cheese and the saltiness of the brown butter vinaigrette in the roasted carrot salad.
The crowd favorite was Prim with the duck course. The spice of the cardamom and the acidity in Prim cut through the delightful fattiness of the duck, which was particularly divine with the ginger plum sauce.
The night was a fun group exploration and experimentation with unique flavor combinations. It was amazing to be a part of many of the guests’ first foray into sour beers. The discovery was two-fold—that they loved sour beers and that they paired amazingly with food. Even though I’ve tasted these beers many times (hey, it’s my job), it was intriguing to discover new, unexpected characteristics that shined through the ingredients.
The night was also an experiment for us. It’s one of many sour beer and food experiences we have in the works. I can’t wait for more.