Low-brow beer pairings from hummus to Easy Cheese

Got some chips and salsa? We’ve got the beer for that pairing.

Pairing food with alcohol is a science and an art. It can also be very expensive. In today’s economy, many people can’t afford to test wines looking for what pairs best with that chateaubriand—let alone pay for the chateaubriand itself. So here at Weekly, we wanted to give the Average Joe a pairing experience, courtesy of your neighborhood grocery store. We’ve taken some ready-to-eat snacks and paired them with affordable beers, courtesy of Clyde Burney, vice president of beer at Southern Wine & Spirits of Nevada and a man who definitely knows his brews. Keep in mind this isn’t an exact science, but if your experience following this advice in any way mirrors our own, it’s certainly a delicious (and affordable) one.

Food: Tostito’s Hint of Pepperjack Stone-Ground White Corn Chips with Santa Barbara Mango & Peach Salsa

Beer: Pacifico

Burney didn’t even have to think about this one—Pacifico. “It’s light and sweet enough to complement the mango, for a start. But it also says summer; it says refreshing, a light way to start an evening or afternoon. It flows right together and tastes right together.” For spicier salsa, Burney recommends “any IPA.”

Food: Trader Joe’s Pita Bread with Trader Joe’s Smooth and Creamy Cilantro and Jalapeño Hummus

Beer: Warsteiner

This is an intense combo of flavors, and Burney says a pilsner works like a charm—in this case, Warsteiner. “I think they’ll complement each other. They’re both quite harsh. Warsteiner is a harsh pils, so it hits up front with the malt they use and will complement the garlic and jalapeño bite. Plus, the pils is slightly malty and will cut through the oils in the hummus.”

Food: Fire Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil Triscuits with Cheddar ‘n Bacon Easy Cheese

Beer: Pabst Blue Ribbon

“That’s a good job, mate,” Burney compliments me on the surprisingly substantial combo he dubs “the Poor Man’s Night Out.” It’s so substantial, in fact, that Burney says to have this one with a Pabst Blue Ribbon. “We’ve got a meal here, so we want something nice to wash it down with. Anything other than PBR or maybe a Killian’s Red, we’re going to get full.”

Food: Doritos, Tapatío Salsa Picante Hot Sauce flavor

Beer: Modelo Especial

Burney says to pair lagers with very spicy munchies. For Doritos-turned-spicy, try Modelo Especial. “It’s dry enough to help us quench what we’ve got going on without killing the flavor. When it gets this spicy, you need something to quench your thirst.”

Food: Ruffles, Loaded Chili & Cheese flavor

Beer: New Belgium Hoptoberfest

A disappointing chip, to be sure. “Not that much, eh?” Burney laments. Due to the “lack of profile,” Burney recommends pairing this with New Belgium Brewing Company’s Hoptoberfest Golden Ale. “They tell me it’s not dry-hopped, but it is, and it allows us to break away from the flavor of the chip.” Since Hoptoberfest is seasonal, Burney falls back to Fat Tire, an amber lager, if necessary. Or better yet, just skip Loaded Chili & Cheese flavor Ruffles altogether.

Food: Caramel Bugles

Beer: Corona Familiar

The surprise of the afternoon, this snack snaps Burney to attention. He suggests a stout, but then reconsiders. “You know what? You don’t want to cover up this flavor.” He opts instead for Corona Familiar, which he describes as a “huge” difference from regular Corona. “It’s something sweet and appealing, and if you’re sitting down to a bowl of these Bugles, you don’t want to spoil them. They’re too good to miss, too good to spoil.”

Food: Milano Orange cookies

Beer: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout

A great cookie. Burney doesn’t hesitate—Young’s Double Chocolate Stout. “With the flavor of the chocolate and orange, I think the stout has enough sophistication to be absolutely great with these cookies.”

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Ken Miller is Las Vegas Magazine's managing editor, having previously served as associate editor at Las Vegas Weekly, assistant features ...

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