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Coupling cold ones with fall appetizers, entrees and desserts
Beer expert suggests perfect pairings of food and beverage
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Tap It co-founder Zack Thompson suggests pairing a steak and a baked potato with a seasonal fall beer, such as a craft Oktoberfest or an amber lager. Tap It is Gainesville’s new growler store is inside of Pro Touch Landscapes Inc. off Thompson Bridge Road.

While pumpkin spice lattes and apple cider snagged the title of most ubiquitous autumn drinks long ago, new players have entered the game, and they are playing for keeps.

This fall, instead of turning to the traditional warm drinks, Gainesville business owners suggest trying something new: a chilly brew.

“Fall is a wonderful season for beer drinkers,” said Zack Thompson, co-founder of Gainesville’s new growler store, Tap It, which has 29 taps that offer craft beers, ginger ales and specialty wines.

Get him going on the subject, and he almost turns poetic.

“Fall seasonal beers tend to be more flavorful with toasted notes and amber tones that complement the onset of cool nights and autumn leaf color,” he said.

But fall is known for more than just what it has to offer in terms of sips and slurps. It also is known for fabulous food. And when you have the ability to pair the two together, then fall perfection is achieved.

Here are some of the pairings Thompson suggests:

Appetizer

For your first pairing, go with a little taste teaser.

Serve up a fall lager alongside such appetizers as a beer cheese spread and pretzels.

If that appetizer doesn’t do it for you, consider this next pairing option for those who want something with a little more substance.

Pour an Oktoberfest beer, such as the Terrapin Cukoofest, made at an Athens brewery, and plate up some spicy andouille sausage. Or, consider serving it with some nice oysters.

Entree

Now, moving to the main course.

Thompson said the lower temperatures and the football season “just begs you to light the grill and enjoy the outdoors again after being suppressed by the sultry summers here in Georgia.”

And you know what grilling means.

“Steak.” Thompson said.

He recommends pairing one of the seasonal fall beers, such as a craft Oktoberfest or an amber lager, with a good, old-fashioned meal of a rib eye and baked potato.

“You can’t go wrong there,” he said.

Of course, steak isn’t the only thing that goes well with seasonal drinks.

“Definitely consider barbecue,” Thompson said.

His preference would be to make up some Boston butts and ribs.

Don’t forget the pumpkin beers!

Seasonal fall beers such as the Southern Tier Pumking go great with a smoked chicken, Thompson said, or even better with a hearty mole dish.

After dinner

Now that you have some ideas on how to start a meal, let’s get you ready to finish it.

“Stouts are very good after dinner drinks,” Thompson said. “They’re very dark beers, and a lot of them have coffee or chocolate flavors. They really lend well to finishing off a meal that had some pretty substantial meat, such as steak or pork chops.”

Dessert

And our final pairing suggestion: dessert.

Go ahead and take that stout and serve it right alongside your favorite Southern sweet dish.

But if you’re in the mood for something a little different, consider taking the stout and mixing it with ice cream to make a stout float.

“We have a MooHoo Stout made by Terrapin Brewing in Atlanta, and it’s a chocolate beer that tastes almost like chocolate milk,” Thompson said. “It’s a really fun drink.”

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