College Cuisine: Pairing local beer and wine with easy meals

By Evan Jones, @EvanJones_DE

Southern Illinois is full of quality breweries and wineries that are great for afternoon outings, but you only need to go as far as your local liquor store to enjoy them in your own home. 

Here are four easy dishes that pair well with local beers and wines to give you that belly full of accomplishment after the long semester.

Pear salad – Big Muddy Monster, Blue Sky Traminette


Start off with a fruity salad with pear and sweet red onion covered in a vinaigrette dressing to warm your palate up to this acidic starter.

This appetizer pairs nicely with the nutty, and bitter Big Muddy Monster Brown Ale. And for you wineauxs out there, southern Illinois has plenty of sweet wines that would complement the pears in the salad. I recommend Blue Sky vineyard’s traminette variety. It’s a fruit-forward wine that would be a refreshing start to any meal.

Macaroni and cheese – Von Jakob Dark Bock and Cabernet Sauvignon

For a more hearty meal, what’s better than macaroni and cheese? 

Make your own cheese sauce to impress your parents or friends by shredding good melting cheeses like gouda or cheddar and simmering cream (or milk with some flour) on low heat before adding your noodles. 

The creamy cheese sauce with your gourmet mac ‘n cheese will go great with the Dark Bock from Von Jakob Brewery, or keep it in-house and go with the buttery cabernet sauvignon wine from Von Jakob winery.

Lemon Chicken – Little Egypt IPA, Owl Creek ‘Chardon Owl’


Time for the main course. 

If you’re looking for a cheap, easy recipe, then lemon chicken might be your ticket.

Some recipes call for a half-cup of dry white wine, which leaves plenty left for the cook. Owl Creek’s chardonel variety “Chardon Owl” is the perfect wine for cooking and drinking.

Little Egypt’s IPA is just hoppy and citrusy enough to complement the chicken, but not overpower it.

Big Muddy Vanilla Stout beer float

One of America’s greatest inventions was the root beer float — and we just made it 10 times better by making real beer floats. 

Big Muddy’s Vanilla Stout is great served a la mode with some salted caramel ice cream. 

Maybe after this semester is over, we can put our pizza and Pabst down for a night and celebrate with good food and a good beverage.

Evan Jones can be reached at [email protected] or at (618) 536-3304