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Pairing Food With Beer: What Goes With Chicken Wings?

beer and dinner
Dave Kleinschmidt, flickr

Adam and Eve. Gumby and Pokey. Jekyll and Hyde. Laverne and Shirley. Mary and Rhoda. Pinky and The Brain. Tom and Jerry. Will and Grace. Beer and Wings. Some pairs are just forever in the books of history. Today we look at the quintessential pair of Wings and Beer.

Cut, complement, and contrast” are the ‘three Cs’of pairing food and beer. I talk about the three C’s to my friends all of the time because it’s important. So, bearing the three C’s in mind, we look at  three wings, three styles of beer, and plenty of reasons to try this!

Start with hot wings and pair with pale ale. I’d lean more toward the IPA end of the pale ales if not an IPA itself but many people who are just getting into beer won’t really like the IPA as much as the pale ale. This is where you want to “cut” in the taste. The bitter of the hops will help extinguish the hot from the wings but still keeps the punch of the flavor. Often we miss the taste of hot wings because the hot is burning the hell out of our mouths! Pale ale is also a nice trick to downing more wings in one sitting because you don’t have to wait between wings for your mouth to cool. Seriously – when I say hot wings, I mean HOT!

Second pair Honey BBQ Wings with brown ale. One particular brown ale I suggest is Samuel Smiths Nut Brown. This is an example of compliment – the sweet flavors of the Brown Ale make a nice companion for the Honey BBQ Wings. Works with regular old BBQ wings as well but the honey adds a really special flavor to this mixture. The best way to experience this is to take a sip of the beer just before you swallow the wings – it’ll bring out the full spectrum of sweetness , most of which you didn’t know was there to begin with!

Stout – because it has a lust for blue cheese. Chase it with the stout – the chocolate earthy flavors of the beer and cheese

For your third choice make it  Tequila Parmesan Wings – but mainly because of the blue cheese. Seriously – follow me on this. Your beer of choice is a stout. Guinness is the most famous one but there are many, many awesome stouts you can find at your local beverage center. For this wing and beer adventure I would highly recommend Choklat from the folks at Southern Tier. The result of this flavor madness will produce some amazing flavors including what reminds me of what I’ll call a “tame rauchbier* ” – but really it’s a very robust flavor pair where there is a cornucopia of flavors that all compliment one another nicely. The mixture of flavors offered by the tequila wings, (particularly the citrus, cilantro, and sting of tequila) coupled with a quick dip in blue cheese and stout as a chaser is AMAZING. I tell my friends that stout has a lust for blue cheese. The chocolate flavors of the beer with the earthy flavors of the cheese are always surprising.
(* rauchbier is a German style smoked beer)

Want to be the cool friend? Have a wings and beer party. Pickup some great beer ideas from Saratoga Beer Week – tickets are going fast, so I hear.

Saratoga Beer Week happens from February 19th through 23rd in Saratoga Springs, NY. Prices to various events vary and are available online. If you love beer and a week of nothing but beer sounds good to you, then the Saratoga Beer Week is your kind of a week. It’s worth using up that rollover vacation time from last year, if you have it. Or just come for one day. Or two. Or the entire week – it’s entirely up to you.


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