Take “beer and brats” to the next level.
Photo courtesy National Pork Board.
Many of us have had an enjoyable afternoon or evening with beer and bratwurst, likely at a summer cook-out.
But what about taking it to the next level: pairing specific beers with specific sausages: boar sausage, chicken sausage, duck sausage, lamb sausage and venison sausage, in addition to pork-based bratwurst and other pork sausages?
We were invited to an event to do something similar, featuring sausages from some of New York City’s popular French restaurants along with craft brews.
The restaurants are part of the Tour de France restaurant Group, and the beers were paired by the company’s beer sommelier, Gianni Cavicchi.
For fall entertaining, you can do the same thing at home. Beer is a food-friendly beverage; most ales and lagers pair with most sausages. You don’t need a beer sommelier. The fun is in thinking what you‘d like to pair, then trying your pairings.
Combine different types of beer with different types of sausage, varying the meats as well as intensity of the seasonings. It’s a memorable way to spend an evening.
Where To Start
To decide on your menu, first cruise the sausage section of your supermarket to see which ones appeal to you. Stick with plain sausage. Added ingredients such as apples or feta will get in the way of comparing the base flavors.
Then, do some research of what beer pairs best with them and create three or four “flights.” You can create more flights, but we prefer to cap ours at four unless the guests are sophisticated beer tasters who already have an understanding of the different styles of beer. Otherwise, it’s information overload (and palate overload, too).
A flight, by the way, is a term used by wine tasters that refers to a selection of wines to be tasted and compared together—wine only or with food. At wine dinners, for example, each course is served with a flight that enables participants to decide which wine they prefer with the dish. You’re doing the same with beer and sausage. Your flights can consist of one, two or more beers per sausage “course.” Again, unless you have a sophisticated crowd, don’t serve more than two beers per flight.
Beer & Sausage Pairings
Lighter-Style Pairings. Lighter sausages, including weisswurst (veal-based white sausage) and bockwurst (mostly veal with some pork), as well as chicken and turkey sausage, pair well with lighter beers such as wheat beers (weizen and hefeweizen).
Medium-Style Pairings. Bratwurst, a pork-based sausage which can have some veal mixed in, is part of this group, as are kielbasa, knackwurst and sweet Italian sausage. Pair them with ale and lagers. The slightly heavier IPA, India Pale Ale, also works well.
Stronger-Style Pairings. More intensely flavored sausages—boar, duck, and lamb sausage—pair well with heavily-hopped beers and darkly-roasted malts. Look for dark ale, double ale and hoppy IPAs. The hops cut through the richness of the sausage, and darkly roasted malt pair with highly-flavored meats.
Hot & Spicy Pairings. There’s a wonderful variety of hot and spicy sausages: Cajun andouille, Spanish chorizo, lamb merguez sausage from North Africa and hot Italian sausage. Instead of a heavier beer, find a crisp brew. IPA and lager go well here.
Serve traditional condiments: pickles, pickled onions, relish, sauerkraut and a selection of mustards. German potato salad, made with cider vinegar and bacon, and served warm, is de rigeur. Sweet and sour red cabbage is another favorite.
You can also provide rolls. We feel that they get in the way of tasting the sausages, but others prefer them. A green salad in a light vinaigrette provides a counterpoint to the heavy food.
Don’t forget the pretzels—hard and/or soft. Here‘s a recipe for soft pretzels.
At The Event
Start with the lightest flight and move to the heaviest.
Bring the flights out one at a time; but leave them on the table so that guests can go back and compare the flights, as well as contrast the beers with sausages from other flights.
In The New York City Area?
The sausage and beer pairing that inspired this post will be held on Tuesday, October 11th. Here’s the ticket information.
WHAT KIND OF BEERS SHOULD YOU SELECT?
Check out the options in our Beer Glossary.
Find more beer recipes and articles in our Beer Section.