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Pairing Outside Lands dishes with beer, by Magnolia’s Dave McLean

Pairing Outside Lands dishes with beer, by Magnolia’s Dave McLean

Pairing Outside Lands dishes with beer, by Magnolia’s Dave McLean
August 13
04:32 2017

Updated 9:44 pm, Friday, August 11, 2017

Magnolia’s Dave McLean is not just an experienced brewer, he’s also grown to be adept at beer and food pairings.

McLean, who runs the Haight district brewery as well as the cocktail bar Alembic and barbecue joint Smokestack, has been curating Outside Lands’ Beer Lands tent for the last six years, stocking its taps with beers from more than two dozen Northern California breweries.

It’s a challenge, as he says, because though it’s important to acknowledge the trends it’s also necessary to present a diverse menu of styles.

“Every year there’s new (trends), but if everyone was left to their own devices, it would be a hop fest,” he says. “(IPAs) are what the brewers make the most of.”

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Noting that some of his favorites this year include Anderson Valley’s G&T Gose and 21st Amendment’s Blood Orange Brew Free or Die IPA, McLean admits it’s sometimes difficult to get beers that breweries produce in smaller amounts.

“In some cases we can’t get everyone’s special stuff,” he says, adding that breweries often need to provide such a substantial amount of beer for the three-day festival. The exceptions to that this year are Almanac’s A Tribe Called Mosaic IPA, which was brewed specifically for Outside Lands as an homage to the hip-hop crew performing Saturday, and Barebottle’s Tornado Dust that recently debuted for the Haight Street beer bar Toronado’s 30th birthday.

For this year’s event, we asked McLean to pair beer with some of the festival’s popular food picks. See them below.

1. Marlowe’s bacon cheeseburger and fries with Bear Republic’s Grand-Am pale ale

Marlowe’s bacon cheeseburger and fries.

Marlowe’s bacon cheeseburger and fries.

McLean: “When it comes to a burger, that’s a sweet spot for me. I kind of know what I like there. There are usually three or four or five options and it really comes down to what works for you. You have to make sure it works. I like a hop-forward beer, especially with a loaded burger like this. The more assertive flavors and fattiness of the burger, the more I like the palate-refreshing nature of the hops. Maybe it’s an IPA or a pilsner…For this I tend to lean towards pale ales — the Bear Republic Grand-Am. Little bit of maltiness, not over-the-top hoppy. It still has balance and hop character; it just goes with the underlying flavors of the beef.”

2. Rich Table’s porcini donuts and raclette cheese with Laughing Monk’s Evening Vespers Belgian dubbel

Rich Table's Porcini Doughnuts with Raclette Cheese. Photo: Alyssa Pereira

Rich Table’s Porcini Doughnuts with Raclette Cheese.

Rich Table’s Porcini Doughnuts with Raclette Cheese.

McLean: “I would go for something maltier and with a bit of sweetness, probably Laughing Monk’s Evening Vespers, a Belgian dubbel. Belgian dubbels have something that goes with some of those abbey yeast strains that works really nicely with these flavors — with mushrooms in general and the fried aspect, the doughnut aspect.”

3. Charles Chocolate’s S’more with High Water’s Campfire stout.

Charles Chocolates' S'more. Photo: Alyssa Pereira

Charles Chocolates’ S’more.

Charles Chocolates’ S’more.

McLean: “It’s almost hard not to go with the Campfire Stout. There actually aren’t many dark beers here today — those are often go-to beers for these — but the campfire stout. Having tried them side-by-side, you can go for the contrast, but sometimes it’s that match where you don’t know where one stops and the other begins. That’s a beautiful thing.”

Alyssa Pereira is an SFGATE staff writer. Email her at or find her on Twitter at @alyspereira.

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