Throughout history, beer has been the drink of the populace. Traditionally, wine was reserved for the upper classes, due at least in part to the limited area in which grapes would grow, the subtlety of the flavors, the sheer price of production. Barley, on the other hand, grows much more plentifully than grapes do, in a much broader climate. It can be made much more inexpensively and in much greater volume, so beer supplied a vast peasantry with something safe, sustaining — and delicious — to drink.
With the explosion of craft beer, the inclusion of ales and lagers in tasting menus throughout the country, and the development of the Cicerone program (like a sommelier certification for suds), the past few years have seen the elevation of beers to a status wines have long held on their own: as discussion-worthy matches to the greatest cuisines around the world.
As I paired a flight of wines with a menu of wonderful music a few months ago, I thought that we'd take the same tack with beer: pick a program of fabulous music and find the perfect accompanying brew. With bottles in hand and iPod on full blast, I set out to find suitable matches. (Tough job, I know.)
Aaron Sherman is the sommelier at NoMI Kitchen at the Park Hyatt Chicago, a 2012 Wine Spectator restaurant award winner. As a percussionist, he has played with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Lyric Opera of Chicago.