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Four tips for pairing food and beer

If you want to pair the right beer with the right food, chef George Sheffer recommends lots of experimenting.

“It’s really trial by error,” said Sheffer, executive chef at Victor’s in Spring Garden Township.

Victor’s is one of about five restaurants participating in History Untapped, a craft brew festival, on Saturday, June 11. The fundraiser for the York County Heritage Trust will take place at the Agricultural & Industrial Museum, 217 W. Princess St. in York. About 36 types of beer are expected at the event.

Zach St. John, front of the house manager at Victor’s, said the participants try to come up with dishes for the event that have complex flavors but are easy to eat while standing and walking between the different stations.

Here are four things to know about pairing food and beer.

1. Complementing and contrasting flavors can work in the same dish.

This year’s, Victor’s will have lamb with goat cheese and Greek yogurt sauce paired with Victory Brett Pils, which the brewer describes as having “a heavy hop presence” and earthy, woody flavors.

St. John said that drinks with spice and earth tones typically pair well with lamb. Meanwhile, the dryness of the beer will have a nice contrast with the creaminess of the sauce, he said.

2. Pairings can start while you cook.

Last year, Victor’s paired the Victory Kirsch Gose, which the brewer says has an “intense rounded cherry character, and a refreshing salty character,” with pulled pork sliders, prepared by marinating the pork in the same beer and smoking the pork with cherry wood. That was topped with a fruit chutney and barbecue sauce, which was also made with the Victory Kirsch Gose.

Ginger Walker, co-owner of Pepper’s Grille at Central Market, said slow roasting pork in beer instead of typical seasonings “makes for a really, really tender meat.”

“And then while the meat is cooking, it kind of sucks up all that flavor of that beer,” she said.

Pepper's is one of the participating restaurants this year, and it expects to be paired with Gift Horse Brewing Company of York.

3. Desserts work, too.

Victor’s has also paired Victory’s Deep Cocoa porter with a chocolate mousse infused with that same beer. The restaurant topped the mousse with a hazelnut praline. Sheffer said that pairing helps you draw out more of the flavors in the porter and food at the same time.

4. Keep experimenting.

“I could put something together that would be a direct pairing from a book … and you may not like it,” said Sheffer, later adding, “It’s up to each individual’s taste … how far they’re willing to explore.”

If you go

When: 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 11

Where: York Heritage Trust's Agricultural and Industrial Museum, 217 W. Princess St., York

Details: To order tickets online or for more information, visit 

Cost: $55 for Trust members and $65 for the general public. Designated driver tickets cost $15. You must be 21 or older the day of the event to attend, and you will need proper photo identification. Online sales end at noon the day of the event. Tickets will not be available at the gate.