Beer & Chips: Finding the Perfect Pairing

When we think about food and alcohol pairings, we think about wine and cheese, wine and chocolate, etc. Someone even thought of perfect wine pairings to Halloween candy. But there hasn’t been much out there for food pairing with beer, beyond burgers, fries and pizza, of course.

A few months ago, Sherbrooke Liquor beer department manager and potato chip enthusiast Stephen Bezan appeared on CBC Edmonton AM to talk his favourite pairing—beer and chips. And who among us (myself included) hasn’t sat down in front of Netflix with a glass of beer and a bowl of chips and thought, “wow, these really don’t go together”?

Of course the magic of pairing beer and chips took off and Sherbrooke Liquor organized an event with Edgerton brewery Ribstone Creek, aptly named “Ribstone and Ruffles,” in their brand new tasting room on July 27, 2017. Bezan walked guests through the tasting notes of each beer and chip flavour (printed out for a take-home keepsake). I had the pleasure of attending, and let’s just say, my beer and chips Netflix nights have improved for the better.

Pairing 1:  President’s Choice World of Flavours Turkey Stuffing with Ribstone Creek Lager

That’s right—Turkey Stuffing chips. This unique and wacky (like the rest of the World of Flavours series) chip flavour paired well with the clean, easy-drinking lager. The “light gauge ripple” chips, flavoured with savory sage and turkey, were a festive companion to the lager’s light malt character.

Pairing 2: Kettle Chips Hawaiian BBQ with Abbey Lane English Mild Ale

This was my favourite pairing of the night! The Hawaiian BBQ chips were kettle-cooked in avocado oil and coated in powdered pineapple and sea salt. This gave them a nice smoky flavour that paired extremely well with Abbey Lane, an easy-drinking mild and malty brown ale.

Pairing 3: Miss Vickie’s Balsamic Onion with Rhubarb Saison

Similar to the formula of traditional wine and food pairings, this very flavourful chip was paired with a very flavourful beer. The Rhubarb Saison is unreal, but paired with the Balsamic Onion chips activated all kinds of flavour sensations on the tongue by mixing tart with sweet.

Pairing 4: Old Dutch Mexican Chili with Great White Combine White IPA

Another chip flavour I hadn’t heard of before, these spicy, peppery chips (with a medium gauge ripple) were well-enhanced by the yeast character, hops and citrus notes of the White IPA. My second favourite pairing of the evening!

Pairing 5: Dutch Crunch Sour Cream & Dill with Lone Bison IPA

The Lone Bison IPA weighs in at 70 IBU, and I always thought that kind of hop bitterness would overshadow a food pairing. I was wrong! The floral, piney hop character mixed very well with the sharpness of the dill and irresistible kettle crunch.

As a result of this event, I’ve become more conscious during my late-night chip runs of what beer I have awaiting me in my fridge. I can’t wait to see what other perfect pairings I discover as a result!

Bezan and Sherbrooke Liquor hope to make these events a regular occurrence. The next Ribstone & Ruffles is scheduled for September 7, 2017. Register for $5 today!