Prepare your end zone dance: These game-winning pairs will score big with your fans.
Swedish Meatballs & Sap House Blueberry Mead: Spice-laden meatballs swimming in cream sauce could use some lightness. Earthy pepper, cardamom and nutmeg still hold their own when this mead’s sweetness—fruity but not cloying—skims above them with a high-reaching berry note. The mead’s uncarbonated, which gives that blueberry flavor staying power on the tongue alongside the heavy sauce.
Potato Skins & Flat Earth Cygnus X-1 Porter: This beer’s ashy and roasted notes cut through bacon grease, while its chocolate is an unexpectedly delicious bedfellow for both cheese and bacon, bringing a palatable sweetness to a salt-driven snack.
Jalapeño Poppers & Napa Smith Wheat: Sweet, hot peppers stuffed with melty cheese and wrapped in crispy fried goodness should be an occasional indulgence, but this easy-drinking pale wheat beer is an ideal everyday brew. The beer’s wheat tang mimics that of the cheese as the beer moves crisply and briskly through the mouth, sweeping gooey cheese and grease off of the tongue. The pepper’s vegetal flavor and spice shine through the swallow without any conflict from hops, though the cool brew tempers the heat.
Buffalo Wings & Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan: Chicken’s flavor can get lost in the fray of salty, fried breading and mildly spicy Buffalo sauce. This pecan-brewed nut brown has just enough sweetness to draw out the meat flavor, while the wings’ fire balances a basement of toasted malts and toasted pecan on the tongue.
Barbecue Mini-Dogs & Manzanita Where There’s Smoke: A 2012 GABF bronze medalist, Where There’s Smoke is a flavorful, even-handed blend of bitter chocolate, sharp rye spice and smoke. Slow-cook some Li’l Smokies in mesquite barbecue sauce, and smoke anchors the pairing—peppery heat, meaty sweetness, rye spice and barbecue tang are just bonuses.