Increasing Beer Sales By Developing a Pairing Menu

Creating a beer-and-food pairing menu doesn’t mean you have to have a brewpub or food in-house. Making suggestions for your beer to pair with food can be created for off-site events or even as a suggestion piece at an off-premise POS.

Glenmere Brewing has created digital promotions that suggest food and beer pairings to help sell growlers for holiday dinners, summer cookouts, and other dining events.

“We feel that it helps consumers to better understand how to pair beer with their meals, as opposed to the usually expected wine pairing,” explained Glenmere co-owner, Shanna Sandor.

The brewery has had its beer featured in off-site beer dinners with restaurants that typically have the brewery’s products on tap.

“It’s customary for us to provide the beer first, and then the chef creates a course to pair with it,” Sandor explained. “The beer could be a seasonal, a one-off or a flagship, but regardless of which style, will feature local ingredients and often seasonal ingredients that the chef will feature when creating the relationship between the beer and meal.”

Joanna Postlethwaite, a Certified Cicerone, is the beer buyer and the marketing and events coordinator at Thirsty Monk. The brewpub’s Food Flight program is founded upon pairing bite-sized snacks, including a protein, crackers, and cheese, with accompanying beer styles.

“Snacktivities are our favorite thing next to beer, and we feel that our Food Flights elevate the beer tasting and Old World pub experience at the Monk,” she said.

Even the coasters in the taproom play to pairings as well, suggesting beer style-specific food pairings and cooking methods that consumers can experiment with at home.

“We’ve always been an out-of-the-box thinking brewery, and our approach to beer and snack pairings has set us apart in the market,” Postlethwaite said. [It’s] allowed us to grow additional concepts like our Beer, Shot & Bite menu that adds a spirit pairing to the mix.

“Leaving our visitors engaged and enlightened is our priority, so we’re always trying to push boundaries to bring new and exciting concepts to the table.”

Sixpoint‘s Advanced Cicerone, Max Finnance, who does Quality and Beer Education for the Brooklyn brewery said all the resources in the world are only a starting point.

“The best food-pairings come from extensive testing and tweaking,” he said. “Any great pairing will typically go through several revisions and recipe adjustments before it truly becomes a home run.”

Finnance suggested looking for flavors in both the beer and the food that can complement each other, but to also look for the potential of pleasantly contrasting flavors.

An example is oysters and Gose.

“The brininess of the oysters is matched by the saltiness of the Gose, but the acidity of the Gose will make the oysters taste even sweeter,” he said. “A light squeeze of lemon on the oysters can take the pairing one step further, and work harmoniously with the coriander of the Gose.

“When you’re talking about pairing a more complicated dish, subtle changes to the recipe can make big differences with how successful the pairing is overall. Adding a citrus note to a dish may help it pair beautifully with an IPA whereas before the same match may have fallen flat. As with all things, an instinct for pairing gets better with practice, but the practice here couldn’t be more fun .”

North Coast Brewing Company Brewmaster, Chuck Martins, believes food writers are fond of creating broad strokes in beer-style to food-style guidelines because similar guidelines have been made for wine.

“The truth is that the variation of flavors achievable within many beer styles cannot be pigeonholed,” he said. “These guides have a greater likelihood of failing than succeeding.”

Martins added that North Coast has shared recipes that are good companions to the specific beers the recipes were created for. The recipe was designed to work with the particular beer and trials have proved them successful.

“With some beers, even changing up a spice in the dish can take a pairing that would be gliding down easy street and send it sliding sideways toward the guardrail,” he said.

Instead, North Coast has made a pairing table for its beers with particular cheeses — a very specific cheese, most times, from a particular producer — that will be a good match for one of its beers.

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