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April 02, 2016

Odds are that either you or someone you’re close to is closely following March Madness. I know in my family it’s a very big deal, each of us have multiple brackets that we’ve filled out with hopes of winning bragging rights. And I live in Houston who is hosting the Final Four this weekend! It’s been an awesome experience watching the city prepare for all the festivities and visitors. But if basketball isn’t your thing there’s more good news – Major League Baseball season is about to begin too. BOOM

This is all great news but it brings up two little concerns:

  1. “What do I serve my friends to eat/drink when I invite them over to watch the game?”
  2. “Since it’s almost Summer time, is it possible for me to proudly snack while keeping my fitness goals in check (after all, chicks dig the guy with a six pack not a beer belly)?”

Lucky for you I have a great answer to both. In the spirit of the Final Four coming to Houston I’ve created four pairings for you to try out. Each pairing will have a different beer or beer cocktail paired with some extremely flavorful tortilla chips.Now you might be asking yourself, “Did he just say beer & chips? I thought this was going to be healthy?” – don’t worry about that! I’ve found a remarkable brand of chips that are GMO free, cholesterol free, zero trans fats, and made with real ingredients.

The important part is, you won’t lose your Man Card when you bring these healthy beer/food pairings to the table.

No one has to know you’re secretly being health-conscious and NO DUDE argues when he sees beer and chips. DOUBLE WIN.

So here’s the brand of chips that I’ve been raving about to all my friends lately, Food Should Taste Good Brand. I originally stumbled upon these chips at the local Whole Foods Market one day at lunch. I’m a sucker for good branding and their unique labels caught my eye immediately, then I read how surprisingly healthy they are, then the taste was intense… needless to say I’ve been hooked ever since. So here’s the pairings for you:

Cantina Chips With A Shandy/Radler

First pairing will include a beer cocktail called a “Shandy” or a “Radler” which is more popular in Western Europe but starting to gain steam here in the US. This concoction was originally a beery drink made for cyclists and consists of beer mixed with lemonade, ginger ale, or ginger beer. I suggest keeping it simple. Go find your favorite hefeweizen-style beer or blonde ale and some quality lemonade (I prefer no pulp). For each drink make it ¾ beer and ¼ lemonade. This beer cocktail is especially great if you’ll be outside or plan on day drinking early as the alcohol content is lower. Keep the theme light with the Food Should Taste Good Cantina style chips and some salsa, can’t go wrong with this. The crispness of the cocktail stands up to the classic flavors of cantina chips & spicy salsa. BAM! I chose to use one of my favorite local beers, Saint Arnold Brewing Company’s Fancy Lawnmower (a German-style Kolsch). It’s very refreshing with a slight citrus hop flavor towards the end – it’s a constant staple in my fridge. If you ever see my beer fridge without Lawnmower it means we need to go to the store.

Guacamole Chips & an IPA

Beer & chip pairing number two gets a little more intense. The Guacamole chips are made with cilantro, real avocados, & spicy serrano peppers. Personally, this is my favorite style of chips they make AND I’m pairing them with one of the most popular beer styles in America – the IPA. The hoppy & bitter flavors of IPA beers combine with spicy foods the best. This pairing has no frills – simply pour the entire bag of Guacamole chips into a bowl while simultaneously pouring an IPA into your face. I wanted to go with a high-quality IPA that’s easily accessible for everyone so Ballast Point Sculpin IPA it is! This has been one of my favorite IPAs for years and you can find it in cans at most stores that serve craft beer. This is a gold winning IPA that is hopped at 5 different stages with hints of apricot, peach, mango, & lemon. The combination of a beer like this with these spiced guacamole chips is making my mouth water just writing about it.

Jalapeno & Cheddar Chips With a Double IPA

Pairing three gets a little heavier and crazy. It’s basically just an exaggerated version of the previous beer/chip pairing in every way. This one is for the more out-going and wacky dudes out there. Instead of fooling around with the slightly spiced guacamole chips we’re diving into the JALAPENO & CHEDDAR chips that convey the true flavor of this pepper. Side note, these chips are also made with white cheddar and crushed red peppers (very awesome). Use the same rationale as before and simply fill your serving bowl with the entire bag. Now we’re going to whip out the DOUBLE IPA! That’s right, we need a more intense beer to stand up to these zesty tortilla chips. I chose another widely popular beer for you to seek out in stores, Dogfish Head’s 90-Minute IPA. This one packs a wallop at 9% ABV with a pungent, but not crushing, hop flavor. Be ready, this beer/chip combination will WOW some folks.

Sweet Potato Chips & Imperial Stout

And lastly, we’re going to end on a dessert-like note. Food Should Taste Good makes a Sweet Potato tortilla chip with a hint of cane sugar. These bad boys are subtle and sweet, perfect to match with a dark stout that is equally amazing. I went Local with this pairing using Buffalo Bayou Brewing’s Gingerbread Stout. As the name suggests, this beer tastes like Christmas in a bottle with rich flavors of nutmeg and cinnamon. Combine it with the sweet potato chips and you get true bliss. Or it might be the 10% ABV that this beer has so tread carefully. If you are unable to find this Gingerbread Stout brew I suggest using any darker stout beer that is sweeter instead of a coffee stout. The coffee stouts are great but not for what we’re trying to do here.

OKAY – that does it. You are now equipped with four simple yet awe-inspiring beer & tortilla chip pairings to use during your March Madness, MLB season, or whatever you want to celebrate events. Give them a shot and let me know how it goes. Cheers to the beers and remember, your Food Should Taste Good too.