February 25, 2013 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Sometimes, a craft beer is best when enjoyed all by itself. A singular item to cut away the day’s stress or a social lubricant to foster communication and social interaction.

The reality is that craft beer is best when paired with other fine things in life. Sure, events loom large when one considers a beer’s largest stage, but if you think about it for a moment, beer—and specifically craft beer—finds its shining light in moments shared with food.

Beer & Food pairings have become the norm. Detailed and very deliberate styles and brands of craft beers married up with very specific and extraordinary foods. The results are oftentimes completely beyond the expected. I mean, who would think that a very bitter India Pale Ale when paired up with a pungent bleu cheese would find taste descriptors that tend toward sweet, candy, or even dessert-like? Malty craft beers with smoked Gouda cheese resulting in an entirely new taste experience—a perfect creaminess on the palate, where the carbonation from the beer cleanses and washes, preparing the taste buds for the next encounter.

Some of the extremes in this Beer & Food pairing phenomena find sanctuary in charcuterie and craft beer. Craft beer, we understand at this point, is defined as small-batch, extremely flavorful, and painstakingly created beer. Charcuterie may be more foreign to some of you. Simplified, charcuterie is a French word for “cold cuts”—but not your fridge variety. Charcuterie is the equivalent of craft beer within the custom realm of sausages, salamis, artisanal meats, cheeses, accompaniments, and sheer culinary excitement. Paired with their counterpart in craft beer, we find a confluence of substance and liquid not found independently. You owe it to yourself to find some of the local venues who specialize in either and sometimes both.

Great craft beer can now come from almost anywhere—a grocery store, tap house, brewery, or bottle shop. And if I can provide some guidance, The French Bulldog in the Omaha area has some fantastic charcuteries to begin your path toward experimentation. They know the craft and understand how to convey to the first-time patron of a C&CB encounter a common language to impart understanding, remove doubt and fear, and open a world of flavor, taste, and sometimes extremism that is not elitist.

It’s a realm of discovery, Beer & Food pairing. You truly owe it to yourself and friends to seek out the corners of existence. Once you do, you’ll be forever changed.

Give these combinations a try:

  • The buttery and tender flavor of prosciutto complements Lucky Bucket’s soft-bodied Wheat and tangy sharp cheddar cheese.
  • Capocolla’s flavors of white pepper, cinnamon, and cloves taste great with Lucky Bucket’s Lager and smoked Gouda.
  • Lucky Bucket’s IPA gave bleu cheese a creamy flavor, balanced by Pancetta, an Italian, Croatian, and Slovenian bacon.
  • Certified Evil by Lucky Bucket pairs well with the spices of Genoa Salami and a smooth, fresh mozzarella cheese.

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