(BPT) - Ah, craft beer and the wilderness. A match made in heaven. After a day of paddling, fishing, hiking or just relaxing in your hammock, there's nothing better than settling down in front of the fire or on the lakeshore and cracking a locally brewed cold one with your dinner.
Sure, the wine snobs (er, enthusiasts) out there talk endlessly about the glory of wine and food pairings, how red wine goes with chocolate and white with cheese, and only barbarians would switch that up. But it's sort of assumed that a beer is a beer is a beer, whether you're eating a convenience store hot dog or lobster thermidor, and it doesn't matter what type of beer you choose.
Actually — little-known fact — certain beers go better with certain foods than others. A general rule: Light beers go with lighter foods, heavier beer with heavier foods. Crisp goes with spicy, sweet goes with sweet.
Here are some beers that are popular with local brewers, and the foods that pair beautifully with them.
- IPA: This is a citrus-y beer with a strong, bitter hop taste. IPAs go great with spicy foods, burgers, salads and burritos.
- Amber Ale: A mild, caramel-y amber ale pairs well with BBQ, chili, mac and cheese, pizza and many just-add-water meals.
- Pilsner: Pulling a fish out of the lake for dinner? Crack a light-bodied, refreshing Pilsner. It also goes great with chicken and sausage.
- Hefeweizen: This light and unfiltered German-style beer is perfect with light foods like fish or salads. Got a lemon? Pop a slice into your Hefe.
- Kolsch: BWCAW trekkers love the convenience of meats like salami, and this smooth, malty brew is a perfect choice if you're doing a meat, cheese and cracker meal.
- Bock: This rich, sweet lager with toasty notes goes well with sharp cheeses.
- Stout: S'mores, anyone? Stout is the perfect pairing with this quintessential camping treat.
Here are some more tips about beer and the great outdoors in Ely:
No glass or cans. If you're in a campsite that's not in the BWCAW, you're good to go with bottles, cans or however you want to bring your brewskis. (We don't recommend glass no matter where you're going. It breaks too easily.) But, when you're planning a trip into the Boundary Waters, you need to take more care than that. In the BWCAW, no cans or bottles are allowed.
Growlers. Invest in a couple of good growlers made from plastic or stainless steel. Most breweries that are close to the Northwoods have them for sale. Call ahead if you're not sure.
Beer pouches. It's a juice box for grown-ups. One of the newest trends springing up in the alcohol industry is pouches, whether you're talking about a portable margarita or boxed wine. Beer is getting into this game. While you probably won't find any on your local shelves, you can order the pouches online and fill them yourself. The great advantage is portability, especially when empty. When you're done with the beer, you can fold them up and pop them in your pack, rather than lugging the empty growler.
No cooler? No problem! Chill your bevvies in the lake. Submerge for 30 minutes and you should be good to go. If you'd rather partially submerge, give it an hour.
No matter if you're eating dehydrated camp food or fresh fish cooked over the fire, a cold beer is just the thing to make it better. Cheers!