Drink Like a Grown Up: A Craft Beer + Food Pairing Guide

In recent years, craft beer has exploded in popularity, and more and more great restaurants are adding craft beer to their drink selections.

You order red wine with red meat, white with fish – these kinds of pairings have become common knowledge at this point. Yet, many people don’t know the first thing about pairing beer with their food. But never fear, I decided to create a little guide using local Jacksonville beer and food from local Jacksonville restaurants. So when you order your dinner at that trendy gastropub with the huge draft list, now you can order like a pro. What are you waiting for, get out there and try something new!

Blonde Ales

My suggested pairing: European Street Café’s German Bavarian Bratwurst and Veterans United Craft Brewery’s Raging Blonde

Blonde ales tend to be on the lighter end of the spectrum as far as both taste and color. This makes them well suited for lighter foods like chicken, salads and especially bratwurst. So, why mess with a classic. European Street Café’s German Bavarian Bratwurst was pretty much designed to pair with beer, and will match well with Veteran’s slightly bolder take on a blonde ale, the Raging Blonde.


My suggested pairing: Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails’ Summer Salad + Seared Scallops and Engine 15 Brewing Co.'s (904) Weissguy

This light, refreshing beer pairs well with light foods like seafood and salads. The (904) Weissguy is an American Wheat styled after the traditional Bavarian style hefeweizen, with notes of clove and orange. This summery beer pairs excellently with Moxie Kitchen + Cocktails light summer salad, add the delicious seared scallops to make it a meal.

Brown Ales

My suggested pairing: The Blind Rabbit’s Whiskey Smoked Burger and Bold City Brewery’s Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale

Brown Ales are pretty well balanced beers, with malty or caramel characteristics and often a chocolatey feel. I’d put them in the middle of the spectrum as far as light vs. heavy beers. They pair well with hearty foods like roasted pork or smoked sausage. The Blind Rabbit’s Whiskey Smoked Burger brings is full of meaty, smoky flavors that will really be brought out by this Bold City’s excellent brown, the Duke’s Cold Nose Brown Ale.

Pale Ales

My suggested pairing: Kitchen on San Marco’s Short Rib Grilled Cheese and Aardwolf Brewing Company’s Pale Ale

Pale Ales are not as hoppy as their popular counterparts, the India Pale Ale (IPA), but they still have some of those nice hoppy note. They pair well with a wide range of foods, but pair especially well with dishes like burgers and English cheeses like cheddar. A meaty, cheesy dish like Kitchen on San Marco’s delicious Short Rib Grilled Cheese would pair nicely with Aardwolf’s Pale Ale. And if you like the beer you get with lunch, lucky for you the brewery is just a few blocks from the restaurant!

India Pale Ales (IPA)

My suggested pairing: Lola’s Burrito & Burger Joint’s7-11 Bollywood Burrito and Intuition Ale Works' I10 IPA

Probably the most popular beer among craft beer lovers, IPAs are well-known for their hoppy, bitter flavor. This strong flavor makes them a perfect match for strong, spicy foods or bold, sweet desserts like carrot cake. A classic pairing is curry and an IPA, but for a twist on that try Lola’s curried chicken burrito and Intuition’s popular I10 IPA.

Double IPAs

My suggested pairing: Mojo No. 4’s Brisket and Green Room Brewing’s Double Overhead

Even bolder than the IPA, the Double IPA has a very strong flavor profile that goes well with rich foods like lamb or smoked brisket. Mojo No. 4’s hearty smoked brisket is a perfect match for Green Room’s intense Double Overhead.


My suggested pairing: Zeta Brewing’s Blackened Mahi Sandwich and Power to the Porter

A porter is a darker, smoky beer. This smoky characteristic makes it a perfect pair for roasted or smoked foods like barbecue, sausages or even blackened fish. Order Zeta’s Fresh Mahi Sandwich blackened and pair it with their Power to the Porter.

Stouts (Sweet or Oatmeal)

My suggested pairing: Brewer’s Pizza’s Burgoo and Pinglehead Brewing Company’s Moon Dance Oatmeal Stout

This particular variety of stout packs a flavor and, as you might guess, is a bit sweeter than its cousin the dry stout. These stouts pair will with rich, spicy foods like barbecue beef or mole sauce. Brewer’s Pizza, the restaurant which houses Pinglehead Brewery, changes its soup offerings daily but if you get the chance, order one of their spicy burgoos. The rich soup will pair excellently with Pinglehead’s bold, chocolatey stout, the Moon Dance.

This list is by no means all encompassing, and half the fun is trying them for yourself and seeing what you like. There are a lot more beer styles out there, so go out and start tasting. For a more comprehensive guide, click here.

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