Emily Baime Michaels and Darin Michaels met in 2009 and hit it off from the start.

"She talked about cooking. I talked about beer," said Darin.

When they became a couple, Emily started thinking about an idea she had to share her passion for good cooking. She was a fan of Georgeanne Brennan, the internationally known author and cooking instructor based in Winters, and was looking to do something with food and wine pairings. She had a background in catering and wanted to take her cooking to new heights.

Darin was a beer distributor who had done many beer-pairing events at breweries. So he chimed in: Why not do it with beer?

Beer?

Yeah, beer.

Emily wasn't sold right away. Like a lot of people, she may have been thinking of basic beer, not the wide, eclectic world of real beer.

That's part of the thinking behind Sacramento's Community Tap and Table, which Emily and Darin started to host cooking and beer-pairing classes. Their goal: "to elevate beer, wine and food pairing from pub grub and a pint to seasonal, fresh foods paired with American craft beer and microbrews."

There are no absolutes, but there are some things to understand and try. If Emily is making seared scallops with ample amounts of butter, Darin is thinking of a beer that will clear that richness off the palate. Maybe something crisp and effervescent like a Downtown Brown, a full-bodied, lightly hopped nut brown ale by Lost Coast Brewery.


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For a rich dish such as macaroni and cheese, Darin might pair it with a hoppy India pale ale, thinking that the spicier the dish, the higher the hops in the beer.

If you're looking to do more with pairings, the couple has a book, "A Year in Beer and Food" (AltaMira Press, $28, 180 pages). On the website, https://communitytapandtable.com, Emily and Darin provide recipes and specific beer pairings. I'm already looking forward to whipping up some bacon-fried Brussels sprouts to go with a Pliny the Elder.