Craft Beer Meets Craft Jerky: A Match Made in Heaven

By Duke's Small Batch Smoked Meats

Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats is CraftBeer.com’s March Beer & Food sponsor.

There is something about pairing two foods with completely different tastes, aromas and textures that create perfectly intertwined, mouthwatering goodness.

At Duke’s Small Batch Smoked Meats our jerky-obsessed company prides itself on the craft of making jerky. From the cut of meat, to the simple ingredients, all the way to the preparation and smoking techniques—we consider every detail an art.

Being an avid craft beer connoisseur, it was no surprise when our founder and Colorado native, Duke Havlick, made the discovery that beer and jerky were a perfect fit while sitting at one of his favorite local craft breweries.

A longtime friend of the brewery owner, Havlick started chatting about the specifics of craft beer and the precise method of brewing a delicious and consistent IPA. The quality ingredients, specific boiling temperatures and fermentation periods were all important steps to making a first-rate craft beer.

Inspired by his friend’s passion, the idea of pairing craft jerky and craft beer—both made with quality ingredients, precise cooking techniques and a little love—was an idea that could not be ignored.

Duke reached out to Eric Warner, brewmaster and founding partner of Karbach Brewing Co. in Houston, to help prove that craft beer and craft jerky are truly a match made in heaven.

How to Pair Jerky with Craft Beer

“The general rule of jerky and beer pairings is to start with the milder items and work your way up to the bolder flavors,” says Warner. “It’s all about matching the intensity, so if you have something that’s really spicy, you don’t want to pair that with a milder item. The way I like to go about tasting is to try the jerky first, then take a sip of beer, let it settle on your tongue and then repeat. This way, you’re sure to taste all the flavors. From there, you just have to have fun with it and try different things.”


Duke’s Island Teriyaki Beef Jerky and Dry Dock Apricot Blonde

Duke’s Island Teriyaki Beef Jerky with
Apricot Blonde | Dry Dock Brewing Co. | Aurora, CO

This misty golden blonde ale from Dry Dock provides a crisp, clean finish with a strong apricot taste, notes of biscuit malts and a slight sourness.

Havlick: The blonde has a lingering sweetness that pairs nicely with the tanginess of the Island Teriyaki Jerky.


Duke’s Sweet Bar-B-Q Braised Pork Strips with Weekend Warrior Pale Ale | Karbach Brewing Co. | Houston, TXDuke’s Sweet Bar-B-Q Braised Pork Strips with
Weekend Warrior Pale Ale | Karbach Brewing Co. | Houston, TX

The Sweet Bar-B-Q Braised Pork Strips are fall-off-the bone tender and smothered in Stubb’s Smokey Mesquite Bar-B-Q Sauce.

Warner: Karbach’s Weekend Warrior American pale ale has a refreshing hop taste that accentuates the smoke flavor of the pork strip and finishes with a hint of citrus and clean malt taste.


Duke’s Original “Shorty” Smoked Sausages with Odell 90 Shilling Ale

Duke’s Original “Shorty” Smoked Sausages with
90 Shilling Ale | Odell Brewing Co. | Fort Collins, CO

These slow-cured “shorty” sausages are old world-style, all-pork sausages that are smoked and dried for seven days.

Warner: I love this combination. The shorties have a taste reminiscent of Italian cured meat, combined with a light salty aftertaste. The sweetness provided by Odell Brewing Company’s 90 Shilling Ale provides a nice and satisfying balance to a salty shorty.


Duke’s Bourbon Glaze Steak Strips with Karbach Mother in Lager

Duke’s Bourbon Glaze Steak Strips with
Mother in Lager | Karbach Brewing Co. | Houston, TX

Brewed with dark malts and German hops, Karbach’s Mother-in-Lager is a mix between a Munich-style dark lager and a German-style schwarzbier.

Warner: The dry, smooth malt and chocolate undertones, mixed with the sticky-sweet molasses flavors of the Jim Beam marinade, create a mild peppery aftertaste that makes for a truly delicious match.


Duke’s Cracked Pepper Beef Jerky with Dogfish Head Indian Brown Lager

Duke’s Cracked Pepper Beef Jerky with
Indian Brown Ale | Dogfish Head | Milton, DE

Duke’s Cracked Pepper Beef Jerky uses big, bold whole peppercorns, smashed open and smoked to release an incredible spicy flavor.

Havlick: Pairing the cracked pepper with Dogfish Head’s Indian Brown Ale calms the spiciness and creates an earthy undertone of brown sugar and nuts that almost has an accent of Worcestershire sauce.


Duke’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips with Rodeo Clown IPA | Karbach Brewing Co. | Houston, TXDuke’s Spicy Bar-B-Q Beef Brisket Strips with
Rodeo Clown IPA | Karbach Brewing Co. | Houston, TX

The Rodeo Clown Double IPA from Karbach has a traditional hoppy taste combined with a smooth malty richness. This delicious IPA gets its taste from American, German and English hops which create a delicious beverage full of citrus, spice, raisin, bread and floral hop undertones.

Warner: The earthy accents of the IPA create a surprising balance with the spicy BBQ marinade on the tender brisket strips.


Duke’s Roasted Cayenne Beef Jerky with Odell Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout

Duke’s Roasted Cayenne Beef Jerky with
Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout | Odell Brewing Co. | Fort Collins, CO

The strong chocolate aroma of Odell’s Lugene Chocolate Milk Stout is a perfect balance for the red pepper flake coating on Duke’s Roasted Cayenne Beef Jerky. If you like spicy but need a fire hydrant to calm the blaze, we couldn’t recommend a better milk stout.

Warner: The undertone of the milk stout’s earthy hop bitterness is supplemented by sweet vanilla to calm the impressive, loud taste of the cayenne pepper sauce. This is absolutely fantastic!


DUKE’S Small Batch Smoked Meats are part of Thanasi Foods LLC, a privately held and family-owned, Boulder, Colorado-based developer, manufacturer, and supplier of household branded foods. Established in 2004, Thanasi Foods’ award-winning BIGS® and DUKE’S® brands can be found in over 50,000 U.S. retail locations today with growing share. The Company’s BIGS and DUKE’S products are uniquely flavored with consumers’ favorite co-brand ingredients including: Hidden Valley® Ranch, Jim Beam®, FRANK’S® REDHOT®, Vlasic®, STUBB’S®, Bacon Salt® and Kikkoman®.