Beer’s the Thing: SoCal Brews to Try For Fall

Three vegetarian recipes get masterful beer pairings

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Vegetarian food and beer pairings
Dine in and drink up with these local beer and vegetarian food pairings. (Photo Credit: Lindsey Gee)

Updated Nov 6, 2017 @ 3:32 pm

The autumnal equinox brings us shorter days, football season, pumpkin-flavored everything and Halloween decor, but it may be a while before the weather really cools off in Los Angeles. However, beer is a beverage that pairs well with foods for both seasons. We talked brews with Sayre Piotrkowski, cicerone (think sommelier for beer) and Beer Director at St. Vincent Tavern in San Francisco, who helped us tap a few ideas about refreshing suds brewed in the warmer half of this state.

We presented three vegetarian recipes from the Clean Plates blog and invited—nay, challenged—Piotrkowski to help us find some SoCal pairings, but taste wasn’t the only criteria. When measuring sustainability and global impact, location matters; the energy required to deliver a product can be as important as the ingredients used to make it. To be certified organic, there are many hoops to jump through and not all small businesses can afford the process, even if they use sustainable practices. In the end, we decided to prioritize location over organic certification. Even if a bottle isn’t labeled, that doesn’t mean the brewer isn’t doing all she or he can to make sure their suds are green from the inside out!

With taste and global impact in mind, Piotrkowski decided on these local SoCal brews to accompany our favorite vegetarian recipes. Here are his thoughts:

What would you pour with M Café’s Macro(biotic)Burger?

“Smoked Black Lager from Craftsman Brewing Company in Pasadena. Veggie burgers often lack two things: umami flavor and the unmistakable combination of char and smoke that is imparted to red meat when it is grilled. This recipe accounts for the umani factor with tamari and mushrooms. Craftsman’s Smoked Black Lager brings the char of black malts and, through the use of both caramelized and smoked specialty malts, the familiar and comfortable savory roundness that is imparted by grilling. Smoked Black is also dry and crisp enough to slice through the sticky soy cheese and veganaise.”

How about M Café’s Zuchinni “Noodles” with Almond Pesto? What would you serve?

“Horny Devil from Alesmith in San Diego. Horny Devil smells and tastes sweet enough to compliment the flavor of squash-based noodles, but its dry body and abundant carbonation provide a tight quick finish to cleanse the palate between bites. The combination of coriander, spicy Belgian-style fermentation character and herbaceous hop flavor will play nicely with spicy bitterness of clove, garlic, basil and arugula.”

Finally, what would you drink with Spinach and Green Pea Empanadas?

“Tradewinds Tripel from The Bruery in Placentia. The Bruery uses Thai basil to add a touch of sweet, mint-like allure to this already seductive sipper. The malts used give the beer some dough-like richness that will perfectly compliment the spelt flour empanada shells. Peas and mint is classic American culinary combination and we are not straying too far from those flavors by complimenting this dish with the whimsical character of Tradewinds.”

These recipes are tried and true Clean Plates dishes, both delicious and a boost to your health, and these local brews round out the meal. Head to your farmers market as the weather turns cooler, invite some friends over, pop some tops and make a night of it with selections from the locavore menu above! Let us know what you find as you explore Southern California’s brewing community, and what delicious food pairings you create this fall.