The variety of flavors in craft beers can go perfectly with hard-to-pair dishes

There are few more rewarding experiences in a restaurant than the perfect food and beverage pairing. It’s a rush of pure pleasure. And while wine is often thought of as the go-to mate for food, and commonly the feature of massive, 20 pound beverage lists, beer’s possibilities are finally getting their time in the spotlight. And they’re long overdue.

Thankfully, those operators offering limp, sad beer lists are now few and far between. Any beverage director worth their salt (err…their malt?) have the idea that offering a well-thought-out selection of beer leads to more sales, more opportunities to surprise guests and more ways to arm staff with memorable beer and food pairings. In fact, many intrepid beer professionals are pushing the envelope of food pairing to new heights, and finding receptive audiences.

“Guests have become much more exploratory,” said Kyle Tarczynski, sommelier at RPM Steak in Chicago. “They are not just abiding by the old standby rules of ‘red wine with red meat’ and ‘white wine with fish.’ There are so many options available now that if you’re willing to put yourself in a beverage professional’s hands, the possibilities are endless.”

RPM’s collection of beers is extensive. Under the “Fancy Beers” section alone, there are more than 65 selections, in a number of formats, with a wide range of styles offering a dizzying array of pairing opportunities. So much so, they often pair different beers with different cuts of steak, even shifting their choices based on the temperature of the meat. With rich Wagyu, a saison farmhouse ale lends a peppery savoriness to the beef, while a west coast India Pale Ale brings a bitterness that enhances the flavor and body of a ribeye.

RPM’s collection of beers is extensive. Under the “Fancy Beers” section alone, there are more than 65 selections, in a number of formats, with a wide range of styles offering a dizzying array of pairing opportunities. So much so, they often pair different beers with different cuts of steak, even shifting their choices based on the temperature of the meat. With rich Wagyu, a saison farmhouse ale lends a peppery savoriness to the beef, while a west coast India Pale Ale brings a bitterness that enhances the flavor and body of a ribeye.