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Guide to Food and Beer Pairings in Grand Rapids

February 27, 2018

Like a fine wine, each style of craft brew has its own unique flavor profile – some are malty, some are bitter, and others are sweet. With each distinct style of beer, there are different foods that will make the combo shine while others won’t mix at all.

In honor of Beer Month GR, taking place in Grand Rapids from February 15 through March 15, here is a guide to our favorite food and craft beer pairings.

Lagers and Blonde Ales

Blonde ales and lagers are light and refreshing. Because they are so clean and crisp, they can cut through the spiciness of a dish as well as not weigh down a lighter dish. They pair well with seafood, grilled meats, spicy foods, and many Southeast Asian and Latin dishes.

B.O.B.’s Brewery pick: Blondie

Gilmore Collection dish pairing: Flat River Burger from Flat River Grill

Scotch Ale

Scotch ales are malty, sometimes smoky, and have notes of caramel, so it works well with foods with similar qualities. They pair well with meats (particularly smoked meats), pungent cheeses, and rich, creamy desserts.

B.O.B.’s Brewery pick: Calgacus

Gilmore Collection dish pairing: Niman Ranch Lamb Bourguignon from Judson’s Steakhouse


The strong hops flavor and bitterness of an IPA can cut through intense flavors easily. Therefore, it pairs well with meats, intensely spiced foods like curry, and fatty foods. It can also pair well with sweet desserts. If you want to make your spicy food even hotter, pair it with an IPA, which enhances the spiciness of a dish. 

B.O.B.’s Brewery pick: Full On IPA or Saint John the Hoptist

Gilmore Collection dish pairing: Fish and Chips from Rose’s on Reeds Lake


Because porters have a rich, deep flavor, they pair well with foods that also have rich, deep flavor. Some porters can be nutty, while others can be smoky or have toffee notes. Our favorite food pairings include smoked meats, barbecue, and desserts with chocolate or coffee.

B.O.B.’s Brewery pick: Peanut Butter Porter

Gilmore Collection dish pairing: Chocolate Torte at Blue Water Grill 


Stouts are also rich and tend to be sweet. Be careful when pairing stouts with food because some can overpower your dish. Pair them with foods that have rich, deep flavors such as meats and desserts that feature chocolate or coffee. Stouts also work well with hearty stews and salty foods.

B.O.B.’s Brewery pick: Spaceboy Stout

Gilmore Collection dish pairing: Flintstone Beef Rib from Gilly’s Smokehouse (only available during Beer Month GR)

Fruit Beers

In the case of fruity beers, sweet compliments sweet. Fruit beers work best with lighter dishes and dishes that have a sweet, fruity component. Therefore, they pair well with dishes such as duck or pork with a sweet sauce, salads with fruity dressings, fruity desserts, soft and sweet cheeses like mascarpone cheese, and light white meats such as fish or chicken.

B.O.B.’s Brewery pick: Tangerine Trees

Gilmore Collection dish pairing: Wood-Baked Michigan Peach Maple Bread Pudding at Rose’s on Reeds Lake

If you get stuck picking the right beer for your meal, ask your server or bartender which food and beer pairings they recommend. You’ll find plenty of great options made here in Michigan!

To try all of the beers mentioned in this blog, visit B.O.B.’s Brewery at The B.O.B.

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