Sun Basket Hearts Beer

When Koji Hamada, Sun Basket’s data scientist, is not busy making sense of all our numbers, he’s likely either making (or drinking) beer. He’s also studying to be a cicerone (a beer sommelier). We gave him a bit of homework and asked him to pair some of his favorite brews with a few of the meals from our June 6 menu. We realize that grain-based beers are not part of a paleo or gluten-free diet, but if you’re not a strict follower you can find some fun pairings here to go with your meals.

  • I’d choose either a pale ale or a brown ale to go with our Spicy chipotle turkey chili with jicama-radish salad. The mild bitterness of a pale ale cuts through the spiciness of the chili, yet the beer is light enough to leave your palate refreshed for the next spoonful. If you go with an IPA, pick one that’s not too hoppy so that it doesn’t overpower the sweet spiciness of the stew. Brown ales have a roasted malt flavor that I really like with the smoky chipotle and the sweetness of the tomatoes and the sweet potato. Brown ales are heavier than pale ales and they have a savoriness that goes well with the chili’s bold flavors. 

  • The complex malt sweetness of a Vienna or Märzen-style lager balances the char on  the Grilled steaks with roasted poblanos and New Mexican chile salsa. The rich character of these lagers makes an interesting match with the aromatic chile salsa, as well. I think a darker lager, like a schwarzbier or dunkel with its higher roastiness, would also be delicious.

  • The subtle spiciness of a Belgian golden ale and a saison’s orange-citrus-like aromas make both these beers a good choice to drink with the Chicken breasts with asparagus and olive tapenade. Crisp ales like these are a nice match for grilled vegetables and leaner proteins like chicken. If you go with a Belgian wit style, you’ll get a fuller body thanks to a higher wheat content, which holds up well with the tapenade and lemon. Some saisons have a lemon-like aroma thanks to the complex ester profiles from their yeasts.

  • Lighter-bodied beers in general pair well with grain-based dishes, like the Bucatini with eggs, leeks, spinach, and preserved lemon. You can go with a malty, yet light amber ale to contrast the creamy eggs and leeks, or a light-to medium-bodied ale that holds its own against the preserved lemon and the mineral flavors of the spinach. If you like a light bodied beer, pilsners offer  a slightly spicy, refreshing finish.  

  • There are a lot of contrasting flavors in the Musakhan chicken wraps with pickled carrots and tzatziki, but that doesn’t mean there’s no room for beer. Generally, light lagers pair well with any recipe. The subtle fruit sweetness from light lager yeasts are a good compliment to the pickled carrots and tart cucumber yogurt sauce here. The purpose of this pairing is to keep you wanting more of everything.

  • I’d pour a big, light-colored ale with the Eggplant Parmesan with sautéed chard.  The bold flavors of IPAs and Belgian ales offer a refreshing break from the creamy sweetness of this eggplant parmesan. The hop bitterness from IPAs cuts through fat and refreshes the palate, while Belgian ales offers clove spiciness that contrasts well with the sweetness.