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Summertime Beer Picnic

(Issue 25)

Summer picnics and craft beer were made to go together. While our picnic menu is packed with traditional favorites like fried chicken, potato salad, corn on the cob, and blackberry cobbler, we ventured a bit out of the basket to bring you some unique beer pairings.

Usually malt-forward styles such as pilsners, märzens, and Munich helles are good pairings with fried chicken. The malts in these styles resonate with the browned crust on the bird. Our Spicy Fried Chicken has a mild kick to it, thanks to the taco seasoning added to the crust. We combined this with The Cowboy, a smoked pilsner from Evil Twin Brewing. The beer deepens the flavors of the meat, creating the sensation of chicken that’s been smoked over a cowboy’s campfire.

The Cowboy also deepens the flavors in our classic potato salad, but we preferred the brighter notes teased out by Black Raven Brewing’s Flock Party Pale Ale. It’s a malty brew heavy with orange citrus zing. This combination harmonizes with the richness of the creamy mayo and elevates the other, lighter flavors in the dish. It may leave you wondering if you just had dessert. It also might send you back for seconds.

While you’re loading up your plate with more potato salad, pour an extra glass of High Water’s Cucumber Kölsch for the Grilled Corn on the Cob with Green Chile-Spiced Butter. As with Black Raven’s pale ale, High Water’s kölsch lightens up the potato salad and is delightfully refreshing with the corn and butter.

Our Blackberry Cobbler keeps the happiness flowing when paired with Quilter’s Irish Death Dark Smooth Ale from Iron Horse Brewery. The cobbler has crust on the bottom and the top. Because of the high crust-to-berry ratio, stouts and porters with vanilla and caramel notes are classic styles to pair with it, but Irish Death enriches the dessert in a holistic way. This “beer candy,” as Iron Horse lovingly calls their brew, brings together the rich, buttery crust and the juicy berries without rendering the whole thing cloyingly sweet.

Black Raven’s Flock Party Ale is a delicious alternative (or additional) pairing with the cobbler. It brings out the sweetness in the cobbler while creating a taste combination that can only be described as “doughnutty.”

If the idea of pairing flavors like citrus and cucumber to potato salad and corn on the cob leaves you cold, allow us to suggest one last beer: Bainbridge Brewing’s Kömmuter Kölsch. In spite of its rainy Seattle roots, this brew has a sunny disposition that plays well with everything on our menu. It’s a classic picnic beer that is pleasing all the way around.

Now that you’re armed with an unbeatable menu and pairing options that are both unique and classic, gather up your friends, find a sunny patch of grass, and enjoy the summer sun.