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The Pizza Issue

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Pepperoni Pints
Ever wonder which beer pairs perfectly with what slice? Look no further.

By Darby Doyle

Why wait for July 24 to celebrate Pie and Beer Day? Unless you've been locked away in Superman's icy lair for the past decade, you've heard all the buzz about Utah's bounty of award-winning breweries. From 3.2 grocery-store coolers to heavy beers bottled by the liter, a slate of superlative suds are ever at your fingertips these days. My buddy Chad "Hoss" Forrest—who writes the popular beer blog "Hoss on Hops"—came over with a cooler brimming with local brews, and I fired up the grill and started tossing dough. We spent a sunny afternoon carefully testing all the possible options to come up with these praise-worthy pizza pairings. Somebody's gotta do it.


The works and Uinta's Baba Black Lager
A pizza with the works needs a beer to stand up to—and also complement—the bold flavors of spicy sausage and pepperoni, the snappy bite of onion, and loads of cheese and veggies. Hoss says, "Turn to the dark side." The dark side of beer, that is. It's one of the more unusual Utah brews, but our favorite with a fork-worthy dish of pie: Uinta's Baba Black Lager. Its nice nose, good finish and rich body pair well with hearty foods in general. Wasatch Brewery's Polygamy Nitro Porter also fits the bill, but make sure you pour that bad boy into a real glass to get the most out of this beer's dark complexity.


Potato Bacon and Epic Brewing's Imperial Red Ale
An All-American pie with potato and bacon calls for a big red ale, and Epic Brewing's Exponential Series Imperial Red Ale has a great balance of sweet caramel notes and hoppy bite to sidle up to all that smoky bacon with style. Squatters Full Suspension Pale Ale also has the rich unfiltered hops-forward body meant to tackle this carbs-laden bomb of flavor.


Prosciutto, Pecorino & Fresh Arugula and Wasatch Brewery's Snap Down India Pale Lager
Hoss is the first one to admit he's an India Pale Ale guy as his go-to brew of choice with pizza, even with pies made sans red sauce, such as grilled prosciutto, pecorino and fresh arugula. The complex notes of bitter, salt, floral olive oil, peppery greens and the nuttiness of hard cheese marry well with one of my favorite beers of the evening, Wasatch Brewery's Snap Down India Pale Lager. It's got a great balance of hops bite, floral nose, a super-clean finish and the badass green dragon graphics on the can can't be beat. Hoss also recommends "one of the best brown ales in Utah," Moab Brewery's Squeaky Bike Nut Brown Ale as a more mellow accompaniment to this type of greenery-gilded pie.


Vegan pizzas and Squatters' American Wheat Hefeweizen
Weissbiers remind me of lazy hazy afternoons sipping liters of brew, noshing fresh-baked pretzels and people watching from Berlin's ubiquitous Straßencafé, or outdoor cafes. Similar in style, Belgian witbiers also highlight floral, citrus-forward notes that pair well with garden-fresh vegan pizzas. Several Utah breweries are nailing this flavor profile with pizzazz. Both coming in at 4 percent ABV, Shades of Pale Brewing's Jack Wagon Wheat Beer and the unfiltered beauty that is Squatters American Wheat Hefeweizen hit all the summertime nostalgia buttons, lemon wedge optional.


Thai Chicken & Peanut pizza and Epic Brewing's Spiral Jetty IPA
This wacky and wonderful internationally influenced pie begs for bold hops with a good backbone of bitter to balance all of the smoky and sweet pizza toppings heat. Go for a no-apologies, in-your-face India Pale Ale like Epic Brewing's Spiral Jetty IPA, Uinta Brewing's Hop Nosh IPA (popular for a reason), or for a more unusual spin on the Belgian wit recipe, Wasatch Brewing's Ghostrider White IPA. It's all good.


Margherita and Uinta Brewing Co.'s 801 Pilsner
A great session beer is just what you need to go with minimalist pies like the classic Margherita, or when you're lucky enough to score some adult beverages to go along with a pile of plain cheese pies after the kids' Little League game. In this case, pick a pilsner. Uinta Brewing Co.'s 801 Pilsner gets high marks for consistent body and flavor all day long.

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