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, tantrum-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 beer to pair with your kid’s leftover food and snacks. Because why not find the right pint for that half-bitten handful of dinosaur chicken nuggets?
A Sack of Cheddar Goldfish
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.”
Four Bites Of Cold Mac ’N Cheese
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.
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.”
A Tupperware Of Baby Carrots
Why? The earthy and intensely sweet carrots are perfectly balanced by American double IPAs, which are malty and extremely “hop forward.”
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.”
3 Logs Of String Cheese
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
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.”
Half-Eaten PB & J
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
Why? Nutty flavors deserve one another. And you want “something big, but not big as a stout.”
A Handful Of Pirate’s Booty
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.
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.”
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.