After a sun-soaked summer of travel and play, the weather and the school calendar deem it’s time to stay a bit closer to home. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get a taste of greater Minnesota and beyond. Let Tim Won and Matt McEiver of Sid’s Discount Liquors in Plymouth help you plan a progressive dinner that focuses first on the beers, then the food. Invite friends and plan a menu that highlights the best brews around, all while drinking responsibly within the comfort of your home. Who says nights in can’t be as good as nights out?
-Beer and Food Pairings from Sid’s Discount Liquors in Plymouth
Milwaukee Brewing Co.’s O-Gii—To start your evening off right, pour this Belgian-style wheat (pronounced “Oh gee”) into a typical pint glass and admire its hazy, light gold appearance. Your guests might assume that this is a standard beer, but O-Gii’s herbal flavor sets it apart from other brews. This tea-infused beer boasts hints of sweetness and spice, but McEiver notes that this isn’t overpowering. Rather, the blend complements a fresh vegetable salad. With a 9.2 percent alcohol content, McEiver warns it is “something a little bit bigger,” but if you’re planning to stay put for the evening, this unique, refreshing twist on a lighter beer is a perfect starter. // $7.90 for four 16 oz. cans
Bent Paddle Venture Plus Pilsner Lager—“This has a better flavor profile than a generic pilsner,” says McEiver, who is enthusiastic about this crisp, light beer that flirts with just a hint of lemon. Its fresh flavor is due to local packaging—Bent Paddle is based in Duluth, Minn.—and McEiver believes this pour will pair well with another local delicacy: walleye. With a significantly lower ABV than O-Gii (5 percent) and a clean, refreshing taste, this is the perfect transition from salad to main course. // $9.75 for a six pack of cans
There are just a few foods that can turn even the most stoic Minnesotan into an unapologetic enthusiast, but a good juicy lucy burger always does the trick. McEiver and Won suggest two local brews that will undoubtedly bring rave reviews from even the most unflappable folks.
Surly Hell—Don’t let the name fool you: This is a classic Minnesota beer for a classic Minnesota burger. “It’s a little bit bigger, a little bit bolder, but still accessible to everyone,” says McEiver, “a fantastic all-around lager.” To maximize the flavors of this classic golden lager, McEiver suggests using a lighter cheese, such as Swiss or white cheddar, in your juicy lucy. // $8.85 for four 16 oz. cans
Big Wood Morning Wood—If you’re looking for something to jumpstart taste buds—and conversations—midway through your meal, serve your burgers with this coffee-flavored stout out of White Bear Lake, Minn. “For the style, it’s not extremely aggressive,” McEiver says. “For people who typically aren’t into stouts, it might be a great place to start.” Serve in a tulip glass in order to maximize aroma and to admire its dark brown hue. // $7.40 for four 16 oz. cans
McEiver and Won suggest two final beers that are delightful enough to be served on their own (“dessert in a bottle,” Won says), but also can be paired with a sweet last course. Serve one—or both—as you and your guests savor the end of a lovely evening together.
Breckenridge Vanilla Porter—McEiver describes this beer as a “beautiful balance … it’s sweetness up front and dryness in the back.” Each bottle boasts a fresh and authentic blend. “It’s a tasty beer,” Won says. “You don’t get that vanilla extract flavor.” McEiver suggests pairing the porter with chocolate mousse. The dryness of the porter will keep the mousse from tasting too sweet, and chocolate and vanilla are classic complements of one another. // $7.25 for a six pack of bottles
Southern Tier Pumking (not pictured)—This seasonal beer is the quintessential fall treat. With hints of graham cracker and cinnamon, it’s easy to see why Sid’s customers gobble up this brew each fall. The beer’s simplest description is that it tastes just like pumpkin pie, but both McEiver and Won applaud the brew’s complexity. “The yeast and cinnamon help it from getting too sweet,” McEiver says. “You will never be bored with that beer. There are plenty of noticeable flavor profiles that everybody can talk about.” // $7 for one 22 oz. bottle