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Top 10 Food-Friendly San Diego Beers

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Give a hearty hello to Schuyler Schultz, who'll be occasionally dropping by Eater San Diego to share some food and beer pairing knowledge.

Schultz works as the chef and beverage director of La Mesa's The Vine Cottage, serves as a culinary consultant to AleSmith Brewing Co. and is the author of "Beer, Food, and Flavor: A Guide to Tasting, Pairing, and the Culture of Craft Beer".

Here, he gives us a rundown of his Top 10 Food-Friendly San Diego Beers, and tells us exactly what we should eat with them. What are your favorite food pairings with local beers? Enlighten us in the comments.

Avant GardeThe Lost Abbey
Full of subtle complexities, this bière du garde offers lightly toasted malt and spicy hop notes combined with a crisp body that complements a wide variety of light to medium-strength cheeses or chicken and vegetable dishes. Dark caraway rye bread with butter and radishes or a roasted beet salad with goat cheese would be good pairings.

Black Marlin PorterBallast Point Brewing Company
Presenting good roasted malt notes that don't overpower more delicate foods, this beer can also stand up to grilled meats, hearty cheeses, and thick stews. Aged gouda is a particularly great matchup.

Hop Head Red Green Flash Brewing Co.
This beer's robust hop and malt profiles offer orange zest and caramel notes making it a versatile foil for complex, full-flavored dishes with dense flavor profiles. Braised pork belly or short ribs would be fantastic here, along with all types of barbeque.

Horny DevilAleSmith Brewing Co.
Fruity Belgian fermentation characteristics, balanced malt sweetness, and a surprisingly light body for a beer of this strength make this an ideal match for seafoods like steamed mussels and clams, cioppino, or Asian cuisine.

IPA AleSmith Brewing Co.
The subtle nuances of IPAs are often overlooked when thinking about them with food. AleSmith's excellent offering tends toward the dryer, crisp style, with loads of tropical fruit and pine aromatics. Harness these bitter hops, which can stand up to salads of bitter greens like dandelion, escarole, or radicchio dressed in a salty, citrusy vinaigrette.

Nelson IPAAlpine Beer Co.
This beer combines exotic muskmelon and grassy herbal notes with a bit of spicy rye for a different take on the IPA experience. Dishes redolent of herbs, creamy blue cheeses, and spicy Thai cuisine would all be excellent pairings.

Old Numbskull BarleywineAleSmith Brewing Co.
Many barleywines come on strong with sweet caramel, toffee, and rich alcohol characteristics. Old Numbskull offers a classic feel, but with added dimension and versatility that makes it the best barleywine I know of for pairing with rich, full-flavored foods. Think baked macaroni and cheese with aged cheddar, Fontina, and Gruyère, grilled lamb rib chops, beef brisket, and creamy desserts.

Red PoppyThe Lost Abbey
The vibrant acidity and funky barrel fermentation characteristics of this Flanders-style red made with tart cherries make it easy to pair with nearly anything. Washed rind cheeses or rich pâtés and charcuterie are excellent with sour beers.

Saison DiegoGreen Flash Brewing Co.
Saisons often hit just the right notes in a challenging pairing. They tend to be light-bodied, but with good presence in the mouth, possess some fermentation notes but are not too funky to steal the spotlight, and are crisp, spicy, and earthy all at once. Vegetable-based dishes, quiche, and sautéed mushrooms all come to mind.

Skid Mark Brown AlePizza Port Ocean Beach
The humble brown ale is so often overlooked. This particularly fine, well-balanced, flavorful edition offers the classic experience: good caramel malt presence without dark roasted flavors, fruity English hop notes without being very bitter, and a substantial mouthfeel without being too sweet or heavy. Have it with one of their pizzas or maybe some sausages and caramelized onions; oysters would make a fun pairing too.
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