Choosing a craft beer from the wide range of brands and styles available can be difficult for the uninitiated consumer, experts note. One way a craft beer brand can help educate consumers about its beer is through food pairings, suggests Sarah Theodore, global drinks analyst at Chicago-based Mintel.

Last month, Chicago-based craft brewer Baderbräu Brewing Co. took a twist on more traditional craft beer pairings and showed how its Chicago Pilsener, Oktoberfest lager and Red Velvet winter bock beers pair with bacon.

“Pork is a traditional food pairing with Pilsener and Oktoberfest,” explains Rob Sama, founder of Baderbräu. “In the Czech Republic, pork dumplings commonly accompany a Pilsener. Oktoberfests are often paired with pork shank and bratwurst. So, a bacon dinner just seemed to make sense.”

The key to this pairing is the salt content of bacon, Sama notes.  Salty foods such as peanuts and pretzels often pair well with beers, and bacon fits into this milieu, he says.

Baderbräu partnered with Chef Monica Sharma to create a menu that melded the characteristics of each beer with a different presentation of bacon. For example, Sharma paired foie gras mousse and lamb bacon with the Chicago Pilsener because the crisp, clean taste of the beer cuts through the lush fattiness of the dish, she explains. She paired the Oktoberfest with her version of a BLT featuring smoked applewood bacon and tomato-habanero jam to bring out the sweet spiciness of the jam.

The toughest pairing was finding something to complement the malty Red Velvet, Sharma admits. She chose to pair this craft beer with a potato salad featuring creamy Maytag Blue cheese and bacon lardons to bring out the sweetness of the beer’s malts.

 Through pairings, craft beer brands can showcase the versatility of their beers and present delectable occasions for responsible but enjoyable consumption.