Beer Pairings for National Chili Month

Chili - what a classic cool weather food that fits so many occasions.  Chili was first made in 1731 and was called Spicy Spanish Stew according to What’s Cooking in America.   Say that three times fast.   The International Chili Society says chili was popularized during the Gold Rush of the mid-1800s.  Dried beef, fat, pepper, salt, and chili peppers were formed into chili “bricks” and then dropped into boiling water.  There are many different variations of chili - Texas chili contains no beans, chili verde uses pork, and white chili uses chicken or turkey.  President Johnson was a chili lover and it is the state food of Texas.

What to pair with chili?  Most of the recommendations below are big beer items.  They need to be big to stand up and pair well with a very big tasting food. 

One of my favorite imported beers is Lion Stout from the Lion Brewery in Biyagama, Sri Lanka.  Lion Stout is made with British, Czech, and Danish malts, hopped with Styrian hops, and utilizes an English yeast.  This stout is delicious.  It has dark roasted barley as the base and has sweet notes of coffee and chocolate.  It is very easy on the palate but you need to exercise moderation with the 8.8% ABV. Available in Michigan stores.

One of my first import beers was Newcastle, a brown ale that started in England.  Known as the working man’s beer in England, this brown is very tasty.  Newcastle started its life in 1927 by Colonel James Porter.  The colonel wanted to make a beer like Bass and tried for three years.  He gave up his venture and settled on this very good tasting brown ale.  The star on the bottle represents the 5 founding breweries of Newcastle.  This beer is now made in the Netherlands in order to allow for shorter lead times and swifter transportation to the U.S.  Low in hops, this beer is made with pale and crystal malts. Available in all Family Fare stores.

A third beer for chili is Founder’s Dirty Bastard.  This is a scotch ale that is available all year long.  It has a dark ruby color and is made with seven malts.  It has a malty richness and just enough hop to keep it from being too sweet.  You will get hints of smoke and peat in the nose.  The ABV is 8.5% and has 50 IBUs.  It is very good with chili. Available in all Family Fare stores.

What pairs well with white chili?  I recommend Founder’s Rubaeus.  Rubaeus is all raspberry, all the way through.  You cannot believe how much raspberry is introduced into each batch of Rubaeus.  This beer is described as summer that can be enjoyed all year long.  The fruit in this beer will pair great with all the creamy richness of white chili.  The best white chili I had was at a chili contest that I was a judge.  There was a white chili that I thought would not even place because all the competitors were traditional chili.  The white chili came in second.  The secret ingredients that are no longer a secret are vermouth and cumin.   Rubaeus would have been a great pairing then. Not available in Minnesota, North Dakota or South Dakota Family Fare stores.

The last recommendation is not a craft beer from Michigan or anywhere else.  It is however a great selling beer at Family Fare.  We have this beer on ad this week and it will pair great with chili.  The beer is Bud Light Lime.  This beer will surprise you with flavor.  It is made with real lime peels to make it the “most summery beer on the planet” according to Anhueser Busch.  Only 4.2% ABV and has 0 fat. Available in all Family Fare stores.

This blog makes me hungry!

Willie’s World Famous (no Kidney Bean) Chili


  • 2- 15oz Cans Black Chili Beans
  • 2- 15oz Cans Pinto Beans
  • 3- 14.5oz Cans Crushed Tomato’s (Whole or Diced if your prefer)
  • 1- 4oz Can Diced Green Chili’s
  • 2 Pounds Ground Beef
  • 3 Med Onions – Chopped
  • 2 Tbsps. Olive Oil
  • 1/8 cup Worcestershire Sauce
  • 4 Cloves Garlic – Crushed
  • 5 Tsp Chili Powder
  • 4 Tsp Black Pepper (coarse ground)
  • 2 Tsp Cumin
  • Salt to taste, typically 1 Tsp
  • ½ Cup your favorite Red Wine (I use a Merlot)

Instructions: Brown hamburger and drain off fat, and then cook everything in a crock pot 5-6 hours. 

Greg Vanoverloop Beer Wine Spirits Category Manager


  • Started in the Grocery business bagging at D&W in 1975.  Worked at D&W for 30 years in various departments.
  • Worked at SpartanNash for 11 years.  Currently the Category Manager for Wine/Beer/Spirits for SpartanNash East.
  • Have been a category manager since 1990 and a category manager of beer  since 1997.  CM of wine and spirits since 2007.
  • Have travelled extensively which provided the opportunity to taste many foods and beverages from Hong Kong to Caribbean, from California to Maine.
  • Love to cook, grill, and bake, snow ski, sail, and read books.    Best baked item – a bourbon pecan pie with rum crust.  Best grilled item – salmon with blueberry onion wine sauce and goat cheese.  Best cooked item – Squash Apple soup with bourbon.  Best ski slope – Go Devil at Keystone.  Best book – Wonder.
  • 1 wife, 3 children, 7.3 grandchildren.