After spending thousands of years converging on the perfect beers, this century culture went crazy and overdid hops, tinkered with grains, and generally made niche beers at high cost. Yet there is no question craft beers are big business, a growing segment when balanced lagers are in decline.

So many new choices means a lot can go wrong pairing beer and food. Dr. Ann Sandbrook,  Certified Beer Server and food chemistry lab manager at Virginia Tech, is here to save your Independence Day.  Sandbrook says if you are a traditionalist, burgers and dogs, go with a helles because it is light and crisp - not without throwing in an endorsement of Virginia Tech’s Fightin’ Hokies Lager. She notes that the hops work well with red meat fats. I haven't tried Hokie lager so it's right to be skeptical but I buy the Washington State University agriculture department's Cougar Gold cheese like it's my job, so it is not fair to assume academics can't, you know, do anything just because academia made "it's academic" part of the lexicon. When it comes to food products, there ain't no multiverse hologram mumbo-jumbo, schools are applied science.

Your author doing his part to make Independence Day great again.

For cake or ice cream, Sandbrook says a "malt-forward" stout or porter is the way to go. That has an air of scientific truthiness. I have never been a drinker but Murphy's Stout is the one beer I can say I have enjoyed. It's heavy for me, though, so I end up nursing it and have never had more than one.(1)

If you are not a tedious hipster eating avocado toast points, you may get a relief from over-hopped craft beers on July 4th. “Hops add bitterness to a beer, and an extremely bitter beer is drying and not as refreshing when it’s hot out,” according to Dr. Sandbrook. “Alcohol is dehydrating and gives that hot sensation in high concentrations, which magnifies any bitterness in the brew. A lower alcohol beer light in bitterness makes for a more refreshing drink."

In other insights, I have long cooked bratwurst in beer - Pabst Blue Ribbon or something red, white, and blue-canned on Independence Day - but a brown ale marinade is something I have never tried. Yet now I will.


(1) In other arcane flavorings, last week a cigar aficionado said chocolate milk with a maduro (generally, dark wrapper) stogie would change my view on everything, so you never know.