It always seems that the last week of August is the hottest, then snaps into fall cool weather, and our brains tell us to start getting ready for the colder months. That means more robust food, and more robust beer. And not just Oktoberfest foods, although bratwurst and a liter of beer are just perfect in the cooler days of fall, we start thinking about wild game, savory meats and sauces, squashes, apples, and herbs and spices. Fall gives us unique foods that bespeak of the harvest, and it’s a big one.

Belgian Beef Stew – Cooking with Beer

One of my favorite Fall dishes is a hearty stew when it’s cold out and there’s that snap of dry leaves and sweet damp cellar smell in the air. There’s lots of recipes out there, but I’m partial to Alton ea1103_beef_stew-jpg-rend-sni12col-landscapeBrown’s Beef Stew recipe with a slight change. He uses English Cut Short Ribs (cut parallel to the bone) and hold their shape better with the extended cooking, and are delicious. I like to sear the short ribs, then simmer them down in Blackberry Farm’s Classic Saison. This makes it a little soupier, but I’m ok with that for the flavor I get with the Saison. Keep in mind you only need 10-12 ounces of saison, so you will have to drink the rest of the 750mL bottle…

Beer Pairings

Turkey w Blackstone Nut Brown Roast Turkey has a lot of great things about it. Personally I don’t eat the skin but I know a lot of people love the buttery, crisp aspect it adds to the meat. Most seared meats and nut brown ales will come and play nice together, and we are lucky enough to live in Tennessee where we can get Blackstone’s take on it. Nut Brown’s sweet malt, slight toast, and a little biscuit emphasize the savory turkey meat. Works really well on leftovers, as the turkey tends to dry out a bit in the fridge. I’ll take beer over gravy most days, but you can always have both!

Oyster Stuffing with Blackberry Farm Tennessee Cream Shellfish generally beg for Belgians, but I’m taking this one on a twist. Blackberry Farm uses yeast native to Walland, TN and makes a wonderfully light but funky beer that will really go after the savory, mushroomy flavor of the Oyster Stuffing. Tennessee Cream is made with corn and grits, so it’s light and effervescent, and the wild yeast makes for a really dry finish to clean your palate.

Bratwurst w Chattanooga Brewing Oktoberfest / Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen German food and German beer. They always go together. The terroir of food and beer is a real thing, and most of the classic pairings happened due to people brewing what they liked when they ate their daily staples. So this one is easy. If you are having a bratwurst with sauerkraut and spicy seed mustard, do your mouth a favor and snag some Chattanooga Brewing Oktoberfest. They have been making this recipe for years, and is one of their most popular beers. I also tacked on an import, Aecht Schlenkerla Marzen in case you are doing a little extra sear on your bratwurst, or if you are smoking it. Marzen style lager and Oktoberfest are very close cousins, style-wise, so this isn’t that big of a stretch. That extra bit of meaty flavor will still go well with Oktoberfest, but the Schlenkerla adds a smoked malt characteristic that goes really well with seared meats.


Photo by ©Laura Roberts


Sweet Potato Casserole and Tennessee Brew Works Country Roots Tennessee Brew Works’ sweet potato milk stout is not overly aggressive in the sweet potato category, opting more for a balance between the root vegetable’s inherent sweetness and the coffee quality of the roasted barley. Enter Country Roots, supremely balanced, and also able to take on the caramelized sweet potatoes of the casserole, while emphasizing the flavor of both. The carbonation of Country Roots will wipe your palate clean for the next bite, even if that next bite is cranberry sauce, which this beer can also handle without breaking a sweat.


Carrot Cake and Cool Springs Pecker Wrecker Everyone does stouts for dessert, and they totally work, but in the interest of blowing people’s minds, especially wine people’s, I love putting out a soul crushing IPA with spicy carrot cake. Cool Springs Pecker Wrecker out of Franklin, TN brings the thunder, and most carrot cakes have a fair amount of cinnamon in them to make this pairing work. I always add a tad more cinnamon and double the vanilla to bring more flavor to the table. And cream cheese frosting. Like it was made just for carrot cake. Most people think it odd to put a big IPA with cake, but this cake brings spice, tart, sweet, and savory all at once. We need a big beer to cut through the density of the moist cake and the frosting, and IPA does that, then spirals the flavors up all together, hops, spice, and happiness, then cuts the ground out from underneath it all as the carbonation scrubs your palate clean. Sweet mother. You have to be careful you don’t eat the whole cake.

We hope you enjoy your Fall, and try some pairings of your own and post them on our Facebook page!

Tony Giannasi
General Manager – Craft and Imports / Granter of Dreams
Carter Distributing Company