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Have Your Cake and Drink Beer, Too 

Pairing beer with your dessert

Most every holiday gathering takes place around an altar of sugary fat and carbs. Beer belongs on that table too, but this is no place for light lagers. The dessert course is where beer gets to flex its muscle. I approach each dessert pairing with one of three goals in mind: traditional flavor pairings, matching specific flavors, and WTF.

Traditional flavor pairings are simple to copy with beer. Coffee stouts are delicious with foods that are commonly served with coffee, like pastries. To match specific flavors, Caldera Brewing's Chocolate Coconut Porter would be amazing with coconut rice pudding. WTF pairings tend to steal the show. Next time you find yourself with a pineapple upsidedown cake, break out the Burnside Brewing's Sweet Heat apricot and scotch bonnet wheat beer. It works because pineapples and peppers are amazing together.

These five pairings will excite any beer geek's sweet tooth:

Cheesecake with Deschutes Brewery's The Abyss Imperial Stout (11%) Big, rich desserts need big, rich beers. Coffee flavors in the Stout are delicious with the cheesecake and the big malt flavors highlight the graham cracker crust (my favorite part).

Gingerbread with Solstice Brewing's Winter Schnocker (9.2%) If you like a spicy gingerbread, big winter warmers make for the perfect pair. High alcohol brings out the spices, and stronger malt flavors help the molasses linger on the finish.

Warm Apple Pie with Platypus Pub's Haste Ye' Back Scottish Wee Heavy (8.5%) This beer's caramelized flavors and crisp, spicy hop finish make it taste like it was designed specifically to be served with your grandma's apple pie.

Crème Brûlée with Hair of the Dog's Adam Old Ale (10%) Adam is quite special and deserves special company. Adam's aroma has caramel and toffee notes, while the body is smooth and creamy—perfect with classic crème brûlée.

Caramel Chocolate Brownie with Laurelwood Brewing's Vinter Varmer (6.4%) Sometimes, simple is best. Gooey caramel chocolate brownies are perfect with the roasted coffee and sweet spice flavors of this beer.

Bonus: Orange Dark Chocolate with your favorite double IPA WTF, chocolate? Yes, chocolate. Specifically, dark chocolate with zesty orange. Citrusy hops turn the orange flavors up to 11.

Editor's note: Thom Pastor is a local chef and author of the upcoming book, "Dessert Loves Beer." Check out dessertlovesbeer.com and his beer blog, thompastor.com/blog, for more.

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