beer and goldfish crackers

The Best Beers To Complement The Kid-Leftovers You Always Eat

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One of the biggest casualties of becoming a dad? Your ability to eat normal food. Most of the time, you’re tied up by all the toddler-chasing, infant-soothing, meltdown-preventing tasks of fatherhood to have anything that resembles a real meal. So, to sustain yourself, you dig into the goldfish and cheese sticks that now dominate your cupboard. Or you take down the remains of your kid’s half-eaten dinner.

Foraging for dad scraps comes with the territory. But it doesn’t mean you can’t complement your new diet with a beer every once in a while. That’s where Ian Clark comes in. He’s the chef and founder of BRU Handbuilt Ales & Eats in Boulder, Colorado, and a Great American Brewers Festival award-winning brewer. Clark found the perfect pints to pair with your kid’s leftover table scraps. Because why not find the right beer for that half-bitten handful of dinosaur chicken nuggets?

goldfish crackers

A Sack of Cheddar Goldfish

Best With: An Extra Special/Strong Bitter like Ska Brewing’s ESB, BRU’s 3 B’s, or Blue Point’s Extra Special Bitter

Why? Clark says something biscuit-y and malty is key to complement the snack that smiles back (and covers your carpet): “An ESB is malty, not too hoppy with lots of grainy, nutty malt flavors.”

mac and cheese

Four Bites Of Cold Mac ’N Cheese

Best With: An America pale ale such as Dale’s Pale Ale or Upslope Citra Pale Ale

Why? “The crisp, bright, citrusy flavors will help cut the fatty richness of the intensely cheesy sauce that makes mac and cheese so delicious,” says Clark.

dinosaur nuggets

A Few Dinosaur Chicken Nuggets

Best With: A Berliner Weiss like Dogfish Head’s Festina Péche

Why? Clark says this beer is a tough tart but soft to “make those dinos more dangerous.”Plus, he adds, “the tartness and the meaty umami flavor of the nuggets complement each other.”

baby carrots

A Tupperware Of Baby Carrots

Best With: A Double IPA like Avery Dugana or Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA

Why? The earthy and intensely sweet carrots are perfectly balanced by American double IPAs, which are malty and extremely “hop forward.”

fruit snacks

A Fruit Roll-Up/Bag Of Fruit Snacks

Best With: A Belgian-style Dark Strong Ale like Santias Brewing’s Grand Cru or BRU’s Arium Abbey Style Dubbel

Why? “Complex beers for a complex snack,” says Clark. “Both are malt forward with just the right amount of Belgian ‘funk,’ and both have intense dried fruit flavors.”

string cheese

3 Logs Of String Cheese

Best With: A light beer like Pole Star Pilsner or River North White Ale

Why? That peel-away string cheese or mesh sacks of Babybel wheels that have taken over your cold-cut drawer are best paired with something that’s light, neutral, and crisp. Definitely not hoppy. Per Clark, you want to complement the cheese, not overpower it.


Reheated Pasta With Butter And Cheese

Best With: An ice cold lager like The Post Brewing Company’s Howdy or a Narraganset

Why? Don’t overthink it. “This is a simple dish,” says Clark. “You don’t want either to dominate the other, hence the cold temperature.”

peanut butter and jelly

Half-Eaten PB & J

Best With: A malty brown ale like Upslope’s Brown Ale or Avery’s Ellie Brown Ale

Why? The rich, fruity staple pairs well with the “malty rich backbones,” says Clark, and the “slightly higher alcohol content” of such beers would stand up to the intensity of the PB & J.


A Ziploc Of Dry Cheerios

Best With: A porter such as Deschutes Black Butte or Anchor Porter

Why? Nutty flavors deserve one another. And you want “something big, but not big as a stout.”

pirate's booty

A Handful Of Pirate’s Booty

Best With: A rye IPA like Founders Red’s Rye IPA or Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye

Why? “Light and spicy is the key here,” says Clark, who adds that rye IPS are crisp and hoppy with enough spice to match that aged white cheddar you’ll definitely rub all over the remote and your pants.

fish sticks

Whatever Fish Sticks Remain

Best With: A dry Irish Stout like Guinness

Why? It’s cliché, but it works. “Fish sticks — basically fish and chips — are a classic pairing,” says Clark. “A Guinness is toasty, roasty, and low enough in alcohol to not overpower the fish.”

grilled cheese

Grilled Cheese

Best With: An Amber Ale like Rogue American Amber Ale

Why? Another simple dish that’s big on flavor. Clark says you want something malty enough to stand up to the cheese, but that’s not overpoweringly hoppy.


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