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The craft beer movement is strong in the Bay Area (and everywhere else), so we’d be seriously remiss if we skipped out on pondering over the best beer and dessert pairings. Most people don’t usually consider pairing a bitter IPA or a refreshing blonde ale with something sweet, and that’s a real shame because much like wine, good beer has its own flavor profile that launches it to the next level when it’s paired with the right food. Speaking of wine, if you missed the first post in our Bar Series, please go check it out… it’s all about wine pairings!
For now, though, let’s talk beer. Even if you’ve never been much of a beer drinker, there’s no denying that it’s seen a true renaissance in recent years with breweries all over the nation experimenting and revolutionizing the time-honored booze. You can find something to suit every taste bud, from chocolaty to spicy to fruity to sour to sweet. Brewmasters are pulling out all the stops to blend hops with ingredients ranging from genius to downright weird. If there’s ever been a time to revisit the stuff and see if you can find something to your liking, the time is now! We’ll help you get started with our favorite pairings below.
How about we start out with something crisp and refreshing? That’s exactly what you’ll find with this pairing. When most people think of beer, this is the mental image that comes to mind – a golden beer you can see through with a foamy white head. It’s easy to drink, has low IBU (International Bitterness Units), and the flavors aren’t overpowering.
This makes it the perfect mate to bright, acidic desserts like lemon bars or, of course, our Lemony Snicket Cupcake. Vanilla cake, lemon curd filling, and lemony buttercream icing offer up the ideal blend of sweetness with a tart edge, and it’s pretty easy to find a blonde ale that will meet it head-on with notes of vanilla or a hint of spice.
Now we’re getting to the good stuff. If you live in the Bay Area, you’ve no doubt seen IPAs of all stripes everywhere you go. Despite its name, this beer isn’t actually from India – it’s from England, where it became popular with members of the East India Trading Company and was among the first beers exported to India. It’s a beer that can be challenging to drink, being well known for its hoppy bitterness, but the people who love it find that it boasts flavors from various hops and can be citrusy, spicy, or malty.
West Coast IPAs, in particular, are known for being hoppy as heck, so it’s a good idea to find one you like before pairing. Once you’ve found one with a great balance and lots of great flavor going for it, you can pair it with something citrusy or spicy – like the Ginger Molasses Whoopie Cookie. A prominent ginger flavor can really hold its own against the powerhouse that is the IPA, and your mouth will never be quite the same. In a good way!
When people think of beer and dessert pairings, their minds often go straight to chocolate and stout. There’s nothing wrong with that at all because stouts are incredible rich beers with notes of coffee and malt, which goes phenomenally with chocolate. But there’s another option when you're indulging your chocolate craving, and that’s porters!
Porters blend characteristic Chocolate Strawberry Cruffle contains strawberry cake and chocolate mousse, then it’s all dipped in dark chocolate, offering up that loveable berry-cocoa blend we all love so much. The fruit comes out especially well when paired with a good porter.
If you love beer and you love dessert, why not plan a pairing with your closest friends? It’s so much fun. Nothing brings people together quite like food and booze! Be sure to follow along for the next entry into our Bar Series (Cocktail Pairings!), and remember that you can order Sift desserts and cupcakes online for delivery or to be picked up locally. Ready for that party yet?