When you think of pairing a beverage with food, your thoughts probably go more toward wine. The trend in Orange County is to pair craft beers with menu items. A well-crafted beer can have various spice, fruit or roasted notes that enhance the flavors in your dinner and dessert. Here are some places in the county that are doing good things with food and beer pairings.
220 E. 4th St. #102
Santa Ana, CA 92701
Playground has been open eight months and it has already hosted four events where the point is to match good beer with good food. How do these events work? Jason Quinn of Playground said, “We work closely with a number of California breweries and occasionally we will do a tap takeover with those breweries. To try and feature the beers we are excited about, we will do optional tastings where for three dollars, you can get a four- to seven-ounce tasting of a beer that pairs really well with the food. Sometimes the menu item will be created directly with the intention of pairing it with a beer. Sometimes you want to do an unusual pairing to bring out an unanticipated quality of something.”
Related: Best Homegrown Craft Beers In LA
Chapter One – The Modern Local
227 N. Broadway
Santa Ana, CA 92701
What makes Chapter One – The Modern Local one of the best places to pair beer with food? It’s the training the staff members receive. For each beer that comes into the place (and it’s an impressive list of both bottled and draft beers), staff members are trained about the style and the characteristics of that particular beer. Jeff Hall of Chapter One said, “When someone comes into the restaurant, we ask if they are more interested in beer or food. If they say beer, we try to steer them toward a food that complements the beer they like.” The training of the staff is apparent when you start to discuss the beers you like.
23730 El Toro Road
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Brü is another newer place with a good beer selection, ranging from a pilsner to a sour ale to a stout. In other words, this restaurant has a beer in just about any style you might seek. That could be why the restaurant was voted “best beer-focused restaurant” by the Orange County Beer Society. The draft beers (20-25 of them) change frequently, but you will always be able to find a good beer to have with your dinner or your dessert. The staff can steer you toward a beer that fits your meal just right. Recommendation: pair the strawberry chipotle cheesecake with the Brother Thelonious Belgian-style Abbey Ale from North Coast Brewing Company.