Celebrating National IPA Day? Here’s what you should be eating while you’re drinking

A flight of IPAs waiting for food.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

It is, evidently, National IPA Day once again (who makes this stuff up anyways?), and if you’re celebrating with a few pints of bitter brews, you’re going to need some food to soak it all up. Don’t settle for just any random snacks, through; since Thursday is a celebration of what makes IPAs so special, why not try some food pairings that will bring out the best in your beers?

The boldly flavored, often boozy IPAs love pairing with robust foods, and there are a few elements to keep in mind when picking food to match with hoppy IPAs.

First, hops and alcohol are both excellent at cutting through richness in food, and IPAs are great for chasing indulgent bar snacks like Scotch eggs or cheese dip.


And speaking of cheese dip, IPAs are a versatile partner with many cheeses. Cheddars and triple-cream Bries are natural matches to the brisk bitterness and cutting power of the IPA, and I like a particularly pungent blue cheese -- especially with a double or imperial IPA.

Another quality to keep in mind is the way hops interact with spicy foods. The hop bitterness will actually intensify the burn from piquant dishes. If you’re a fan of the hot stuff, you should get a kick out of how IPAs turn up the heat on your tongue. A saucy plate of hot wings is another bar classic that will match wonderfully with hoppy ales.

This heat-intensifying effect along with the bold flavors make IPAs well-suited to pairing with a variety of L.A.’s favorite ethnic foods. From Mexican to Indian to Thai, IPAs make a versatile partner. A pineapple-laden, coconut-laced, and searing-hot yellow Thai curry practically begs for an IPA heavy on tropical fruit flavors and lots of bitterness.

Hop-lover with a sweet-tooth? A big-and-boozy double IPA can be a welcome accompaniment to dessert as well.The beer can cut through the richness of a cheesecake or elevate the spices in a dense carrot cake.

Lighter IPAs work as well, and a bowl of fresh fruit cocktail matched to a refreshing wheat IPA like El Segundo Brewing’s White Dog makes a nice light dessert for a warm summer’s evening.

Or you can always throw convention out the window and drop a generous scoop of fruit sorbet (or rainbow sherbet) into a tall glass of beer for a memorable match.