While the beer is always the star of the show at our festivals, we also know that a well-timed infusion of killer munchies can turn a memorable beer festival experience into an unforgettable one. Winter Beer Dabbler 2022 will feature 14 awesome food trucks offering a huge range of global cuisines and good-old fashioned beerfest staples to suit all types of snacking preferences.
While many attendees will be perfectly happy to wash their meal down with whatever sample they happen to have in-hand at the time, we recommend elevating your experience by pairing your snacks with the beer in your glass! To help you out with that, we created these beer style pairings that we think will work great with each food truck’s cuisine. Happy dabbling!
Pairing: Amber Lager
As the mobile arm of the enduring West Side St. Paul restaurant and market El Burrito Mercado, El Burrito on Wheels brings decades-deep experience slinging all manner of delicious homestyle Mexican food. For a beer pairing, we’re going to take a page from Modelo’s playbook and recommend an Amber Lager. This beer style’s mild maltiness and crisp, refreshing finish make it an ideal pairing for El Burrito’s classic Mexican dishes.
Pairing: Hazy IPA
When pairing beer with spicy food, you have two options: Get refreshing, or fight fire with fire. In this case, we’re going to be pairing Habanero Tacos’ boldly flavored Mexican street food delights with bright, juicy hoppiness of a Hazy IPA. With loads of hop character on tap, these beers should have more than enough flavor to stand toe-to-toe with a spicy salsa. Plus, if they’re made well, the Hazy’s characteristic pillowy-soft mouthfeel can help soothe a singed tongue.
Pairing: Baltic Porter
While the Polish have contributed many wonderful things to the world (thanks for inventing walkie talkies guys, we use them a lot at our festivals), the humble pierogi and the sturdy Baltic Porter are far and away our favorite Polish innovations. We recommend pairing iPiergoi’s hearty bundles of dough, meat, and veg with Central Europe’s answer to the Russian Imperial Stout: a Baltic Porter. This boozy, bracing style finishes dry like a lager, making it ideal for washing down one last pierogi before you head back to the festival action.
Pairing: Farmhouse Saison
K-Town Street Foods combines the eclectic and addictive flavors of Korean cuisine with latino street food classics like tacos and chimichangas, and their signature Kim Chi Fries are a standout thanks to their combo of rich steak bulgogi and bright, tangy kimchi. We recommend a nice Farmhouse Saison as a pairing. The beer’s fruity aromas and lightly sweet, bubbly body make it an ideal canvas for the assertive flavors K-Town is dishing out.
Unfortunately, K-Town Street Foods is no longer able to attend Winter Beer Dabbler 2022.
Pairing: Tropical Fruited Sour
Centered around a generations-old family recipe that’s been super-sized for festival consumption, KCM EggRolls are everything we want in a beer fest treat. We recommend pairing these crunchy, golden brown torpedoes of tasty with a sweet-and-tangy tropical sour ale. Egg rolls are often paired with a sweet chili or sweet and sour sauce, so your beer’s bright, fruity flavors should interact favorably with the deep-fried goodness of KCM’s jumbo-sized rolls.
Pairing: Smoked Porter or Stout
Didja know that brewers often employ the same woods to smoke malts that a pitmaster would use to smoke meat? Lake State specializes in Texas-style barbecue, which means they’re all about brisket. We love pairing a sturdy hunk of slow-and-low beef with a big, malty Smoked Porter or Stout, as the beer’s darkly sweet notes play well with the fatty earthiness of the brisket.
Pairing: German Pilsner
Zee Germans helped put beer fests on the map, which probably explains why there’s something deeply satisfying about snapping into the crispy skin of bratwurst when you’ve got beer in your bloodstream. We recommend pairing MN Bratwerks (Aka Gerhard’s) signature sausages with the crisp, lightly hoppy zing of a good Pilsner, ideally German style. While your sampler glass is a little smaller than a stein, the pairing should be just as sublime.
In Germanic beer traditions, the tail end of winter (please, please, please) signals the arrival of Bock season. These robust, malty Lagers are perfect for keeping the chill from your bones, but their more potent ABV is best consumed after a sturdy base of bread has been established in the digestive system. Northeast Pretzels (Aka Aki’s Bread Haus) make some of the best pretzels in the state, and should set you up perfectly to rock some Bocks.
Mead is one of the oldest forms of alcohol known to humankind, dating at least as far back as ancient Egypt. Therefore, if you want to drink like a Pharaoh, you’ve gotta try some mead! Made with fermented honey, mead is mellow and subtle in its charms, making it a perfect dancing partner for the mouthwatering meats and tangy yogurt sauce found in a gyro.
Pairing: English-style Cider
Pasties have been helping the people of the United Kingdom soak up their beer since long before the kingdom was anything close to united. While any UK-style ale would be a great fit here, we think pairing a pasty with a semi-sweet English-style cider would be even better. Potter’s already pairs applesauce or apple mustard with their pasties, and the slightly dry, tannic finish of a good cider will help cut the pasty’s buttery-gravy richness.
Pairing: West Coast IPA
If you’ve never had a pupusa before, congratulations, you’ve just found your new favorite beer fest snack. These delightful Salvadorian specialties are more or less corn griddle-cakes stuffed with meat, cheese, and veg, but that description doesn’t really do them justice. You’re just going to have to try them yourself, ideally with a West Coast IPA in-hand. Your beer’s assertive hop bitterness should stand up well to spice and balance out some of the pupusa’s heaviness.
Pairing: Cream Ale
What the hell is a cheese curd taco? We’re glad you asked. It’s a crunchy-fried tortilla, filled with deep-fried cheese curds, and topped with bratwurst slices. Sounds like Wisconsin to us! We recommend pairing a Richie’s taco with a nice mellow, quaffable Cream Ale in a nod to our neighbors to the east’s favorite craft beer. Good thing there’s not actually any lactose in a cream ale, or this combo might have put you into a state of cheesy catatonia.
Pairing: Malt-Forward IPA
Russel’s unique and eclectic menu is anchored by their pho french dip, a mouthwatering sando that delivers all of the flavors of everyone’s favorite Vietnamese soup in a beer fest-ready format. We think a good malt-forward IPA would be a perfect compliment to this rich, savory french dip. The hops should cut the fat nicely and still deliver enough body and backbone to keep you interested.
Pairing: Fruited Seltzer
Hard seltzer’s fizzy, soda-like qualities make it the perfect beverage accompaniment for embracing your inner child, so it only makes sense to pair it with another classic kid’s carnival food: Italian Ice! We recommend tracking down any fun, fruity seltzer you like and enjoying it with one of Sandy’s classic frozen treats. Seltzer should pair well with their their delicious grilled and fried offerings as well!