There tends to be a big emphasis on pairing wine with particular foods. There are certain flavors and tasting notes that compliment each other in the dining experience. Walk into a liquor store, and wine labels or shelf labels will often indicate what the wine pairs well with. But what about beer? In the days of modern craft beer, where we are surrounded by a diverse variety of beers with very different flavors, why don’t we put as much consideration into our beer and food pairings?
Earlier this winter, the Dishing team was fortunate enough to attend a food and beer pairing dinner at Snake River Brewing that emphasized just that: the ability to pair specific beers with certain menu items, thereby elevating the drinking and eating experience as a whole. This weekend, Snake River Brewing is celebrating their 25th anniversary, and to celebrate them, and their 25 years of providing Jackson with “Jackson’s living room,” we’ve gathered some suggestions of what to pair with your pub menu favorites.
Bar Bites: Scratch Pretzel
The in-house bakery at Snake River Brewing has been a huge asset to their menu over the years – producing fresh-baked burger buns, crafting unique desserts of the day and twisting out hundreds of scratch pretzels. Served with sharp white cheddar queso, this salty, cheesy indulgence would pair well with most beers. Wash it down with their famous Pako’s IPA. The hoppiness of the beer will perk up your palate in between bites of the soft, cheesy pretzel.
Starters: Steak Tacos
By far the most popular starter on the menu, the steak tacos at the Brew Pub could be ordered as a starter or a small meal. Three small, street food-style tacos hold Snake River Farms Wagyu skirt steak topped with cotija cheese and served with a side of tomatillo-avocado salsa. The classic pairing for tacos is a light beer. Currently, that would be Snake River’s Freedom Pilsner. Light, crisp and refreshing, it’s great for washing down these tacos if you choose to add some hot sauce to kick up the heat.
Soups: Woming Bison & Beef Chili
A three time Jackson Chili Cook-off winner, the chili at the Brew Pub is rick and spicy. It’s slightly mellowed by the side of house-made corn bread, but you’ll want a beer that can stand up to the heartiness of this dish. That would be the Jenny Lake Lager. An amber colored, Vienna style lager, the malt forward, slightly sweet profile compliments red meat and spice well.
Salads: Warm Beet Salad
This menu item started as a winter salad feature. Backed by it’s popularity, it remains on the menu year-round, even in the warm summer months. It’s unique combination of grape fruit, roasted beets, goat cheese and toasted walnuts bring about an umami of flavors that would pair well with whatever barrel-aged brew the pub is currently featuring. This selection rotates, with a new barrel-aged series coming on tap the third Sunday of each month. The sour, tart, funky flavors of these beers will bring out the flavors of the beet salad in addition to the earthy notes of the beets.
Visitors to the Brew Pub have always been a little startled by the California pizza: “a salad on a pizza?” Exactly. This pizza feels light and fresh like a salad while still giving you the crunch of the crust and warm, cheesy goodness of a pizza. Artichokes, semi-dried heirloom tomatoes, almonds, avocado and goat cheese top fresh greens and are tossed in balsamic vinaigrette. Try this pizza with McCarthy’s Irish red ale. Red ales are naturally balanced and have the ability to not overpower other flavors, which is ideal for the subtleties of this pizza.
Pub Favorites: Big Hole Burger
Pale ales are highly versatile for food pairings. The newest pale ale at Snake River is the Hops N’at American pale ale. The pale’s slight bitterness is enough to cut through the richness of the cheese and red meat, while balanced enough to round out the meal’s flavors. This burger features local Mead Ranch dry-aged beef topped with bacon, pickled green tomatoes, frisee, Dijonaise sauce, brioche bun and your choice of white cheddar, Gruyere or blue cheese.
The s’mores at the Brew Pub have been bringing the nostalgia of camping indoors for years. So it’s only fitting that the best brew to pair it with is their most award-winning: the Zonker stout. The flavors of both are highly complimentary. The chocolate and caramel notes of the beer partner well with that of the s’mores, while the roasted barley in the beer highlights the roasted character of the s’mores, which are finished the wood-fired pizza oven.
Snake River Brewing turns 25 this month, and they’re inviting the public to help them celebrate tomorrow. All day long, from 11 a.m.-11 p.m., join in the fun at this 90’s themed birthday bash. Tram Jam plays from 2-6 p.m., with GRND CNYN taking over the tunes at 9 p.m. There will be a prize raffle featuring a Yeti cooler, SRB swag, a Salsa Jorneyman Sora 650 from Fitzgerald’s Bicycles and a Hala Atcha 86 SUP with collapsible paddle from Rendezvous River Sports. But you must be present to win!
It’s also time for the annual Easter Kegg hunt. Starting April 15, listen to local radio station KMTN every day for three clues to the Easter Kegg’s whereabouts. Clues will be given at 7:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. Extra clues are also available when you dine in at the Brew Pub – just ask your server. The winner receives numerous prizes, including free beer for a year.