As a fun food company, we love when people get it. Seeing people make creative foods that surprise and delight others gives us joy. And everyone knows that popcorn is one of the best snacks to go with beer. So we were thrilled to learn about the popcorn and beer tasting recently hosted by Noble Creature Cask House and Karma Korn Poppery in Northeast Ohio.
The event, from which a portion of the proceeds went to Youngstown State University’s Student Affairs Leadership Support Association, gave attendees a chance to sample four brews, each specially paired with two gourmet popcorn flavors. Here’s a bit about the experience.
Beer and Popcorn Pairings
Noble Creature is an independent craft brewery located within a light-filled former church building in Youngstown, Ohio. For this tasting, their small batch brews were served flight-style on a paddle along with Karma Korn Poppery’s gourmet flavors in plastic cups, giving the event a fun, casual, and lighthearted atmosphere. Attendees were excited to get started with their tastings and were in for a treat with these four pairings.
Wick Perk Breakfast Stout with Elephant Ear and Chocolate Peanut Butter Popcorn.
The pairing of two different sweet popcorns with the rich stout worked perfectly. Sweet cinnamon Elephant Ear accentuated the chocolate notes in the stout, while the chocolate peanut butter flavor meshed with the coffee taste to create a delicious dessert sampling. Brewed and dry-beaned with 4lbs of local Stone Fruit Coffee beans, this brew is full and velvety.
OHvercast IPA with Sriracha and Fusion Popcorn.
IPAs are not for the faint of heart, and neither is Sriracha popcorn. The Sriracha flavor here was very strong, but not overpowering. In fact, the spiciness complemented the hops in the IPA and gave it an exciting kick. Sweet and savory Fusion popcorn (cheese corn covered in caramel) smoothed and balanced the bite of the hops and brought out the citrus flavors of the ale.
Youngstonian Lager with Buffalo Ranch and YSU Popcorn.
The smooth lager went well with the punch of flavor from the Buffalo Ranch popcorn, which might overpower a stronger-flavored beer, but not this light, mild lager. The YSU popcorn – a surprisingly delicious combination of cherry, black cherry, and vanilla whose colors match Youngstown State University’s – helped the crisp lager go down even more easily.
Adranketh Sour with Cheddar Pretzel Ale and Garlic Parmesan Popcorn.
This was perhaps the most interesting pairing of the event. The rich Cheddar Pretzel Ale popcorn cut the sourness of the beer and smoothed it out – a bit like adding berries to a cheese tasting. The cheddar mellowed the sour, while the ale flavor added an oaky, savory experience to the sour brew. The light and airy garlic Parmesan popcorn complemented the tartness of the sour and brought out the floral and earthy notes in this lovely session saison brew.
How to Pair Popcorn and Beer
If you’re interested in hosting a similar tasting experience, your best strategy to create pairings will be to simply sit down with a lot of options and see what works well together. Beer is easier to match with flavors than wine, and you’re unlikely to create a combination that your guests will entirely dislike. But there are a few things to consider to make the best matches possible.
- Try pairing like with like. Match lighter beers with subtly flavored popcorn. Heavier brews like porters and stouts can be paired with richer flavors.
- Go for contrast. The complete opposite can also be true: A simple light lager can go well with a strong popcorn flavor.
- Fruit and spice are nice. As demonstrated in the fruity, floral notes of the OHvercast IPA with Sriracha popcorn, there’s something about this flavor combination that delights the taste buds.
While thinking about your pairings, also consider visual presentation. You want to keep your guests interested, so make sure you’ve got some popcorn flavors that draw visual attention, not just varieties that resemble ordinary movie theater popcorn.
The same goes for the beer pairings: choose ales and lagers that look different from each other. This will also help put your attendees at ease; since people have very distinct beer preferences and not everyone likes IPAs, stouts, or sours, a wide variety is best.
For some specific ideas to help you get started, download Gold Medal’s beer and popcorn pairing guide. You can find more detailed information about beer and food pairings in general in the Brewers Association’s chart.