We believe there’s a beer for every food (even Swedish meatballs and oatmeal raisin cookies)—and Evolution does, too. The Salisbury, Maryland-based brewery has cranked out food-friendly beers since 2009, quickly landing on tap at restaurants and food-focused bars. In 2015, brothers and co-owners John and Tom Knorr want to put their culinary backgrounds straight into consumers’ hands.
“We’ve increased our capacity greatly in the past three years, but it still goes back to that original thought: ‘What the hell do I drink with what I’m making tonight?’” John says. “We want to guide the people that are completely confused. People who say ‘I just went to Whole Foods, I’m trying to figure out what beer I want to buy with this food.’ And they just wander with that dumbfounded look on their faces.”
Sound familiar? Then there are two new tools from Evolution you’ll want to look out for. The first, an interactive smartphone app that pairs beer styles with food, should roll out in three to four months. The second, a flavor wheel (see the photo above) that helps pair Evolution beers with certain types of food, is already up in liquor stores around Maryland. Even if Evolution beer isn’t available near you, the wheel is still a useful tool for thinking about how general styles could enhance foods as diverse as raw oysters or tacos. The current version focuses on fall and winter foods, but a new wheel will be released this spring with warm-weather dishes.
“I think stylistically, you can usually find a beer that’s going to work with almost any food,” Tom says. “The cool thing about beer is it’s such a wide category with so many styles, you can usually pull out flavors that will work with any dish.”
What about the myth that hoppy IPAs aren’t food-friendly?
“The main thing is understanding how bitterness and aromatics work with different foods,” Tom says. “If we think about tannins and how they work with food, well, bitterness works in the same way tannins do. When we talk to people about IPAs, we talk about bigger fat content foods or big, spicy foods: curry, Indian dishes, big fat ribeye, things that can stand up to that type of beer.”
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