Wine may be the natural counterpart to most Italian fare, but sometimes, you're just in the mood for a big, fizzy beer. You may have wondered if your favorite Italian-American behemoth restaurant chain would be able to accommodate your craving for a cold one. Well, wonder no more, because fortunately, the answer is yes.
If you're a regular at your local Olive Garden, you probably already know the restaurant's bar offerings are pretty robust, with several original house cocktails and, perhaps surprisingly, an award-winning wine program. Though their beer list doesn't get as much promotion, diners should know that they do have one. It's not exactly extensive, but it's not a total throwaway, either, primarily consisting of major domestic and imported brands.
Since most of Olive Garden's alcoholic drinks are available for dine-in only, and the Olive Garden website displays only the to-go menus for each location, the only way to know for sure what your local Olive Garden has on tap is to swing by and look at the physical menu (or ask a server). But from what Daily Meal has been able to gather, it's a similar selection everywhere from Alaska to Alabama.
Read more: 10 Of The Healthiest Beers You Can Drink
Three Cheers For Cold Beers
Because every state has its own laws surrounding the serving and distribution of alcoholic beverages, there may be some differences in availability when it comes to which beers are served at any particular Olive Garden location. That said, there's not a ton of variation — as far as we can tell, it's more or less the same list everywhere.
As far as draft beers, you only have two options: Bud Light and Blue Moon — the standard American light lager, or the Americanized take on a Belgian witbier that's usually served with a slice of orange. In terms of bottles, there are several more options available. The bottle list typically includes several of the big American macro brews, like Budweiser, Bud Light, Coors Light, Miller Lite, and Michelob Ultra; a handful of import staples like Stella Artois, Heineken, Corona, Modelo, and Peroni; and then a couple of extras like a Samuel Adams lager, a hard cider, and in some locations, Black Cherry White Claw. Beer lovers who are tasked with driving can also order an O'Douls non-alcoholic beer at many Olive Garden locations.
A Method To The Mashness
At first glance, Olive Garden's beer offerings might seem pretty basic, or even outdated — a menu with four macro lagers, no craft producers, and not a single IPA feels a little retro nowadays. But given some thought, the beer options actually make a lot of sense.
Many experts on pairing beer and food will immediately reach for a light, effervescent lager to go with Italian food, especially for acidic, tomato-based dishes. The most famous Italian beer, Peroni, fits this bill — as an Italian-style pale lager, it's crisp, refreshing, mild — and is available at most Olive Gardens. But American and Mexican lagers also share those clean, fresh traits, so if Peroni isn't your thing, Corona or Coors are viable alternatives.
Blue Moon, that fluffy Belgian-style witbier flavored with orange and coriander, also makes sense as one of just two draft choices. Experts find that wheat beers and farmhouse-style ales tend to work with Italian dishes, offering fruity, spicy, sometimes funky flavors that can stand up to a heavy sauce while matching its creamy smoothness — perfect for pairing with an Amazing Alfredo! (emphasis not ours).
Heavy-bodied and aggressively flavored styles, like stouts and hoppy IPAs, are harder to pair with Italian flavors, so it makes sense that Olive Garden would skip them altogether. The bitterness can overwhelm rather than honor the flavors of tangy tomato and fresh herbs. Better to save them for heavy fried foods, or dishes with bold spice blends, like Indian or Thai curries.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.