Beer is the new wine… at least in the world of themed dinners, which are popping up all over Orlando these days. Turns out there is a lot to learn when it comes to pairing food with beer. Some have even argued that the beer/food combo is much more complex and interesting than wine and food. I'm tempted to agree after attending a beer dinner preview last week at the JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes where Executive Chef and Certified Cicerone Chris Brown schooled me about the world of beer dinners.

Chris cleared up two misconceptions for me. The first is that beer is too filling for a multi-course dinner. Not true when the dinner is focused on craft beer, which tend to be low in carbonation, the culprit for that full feeling. The second is that wine is the best accompaniment with food. Also not true. “With wine you get two ingredients: grapes and yeast,” Chris says. “But with beer you have the hops, yeast, barley, and water all coming into play. That makes the pairing so much more interesting.”

Here are a few upcoming beer dinners inviting you to see (and taste) for yourself:

New Belgium Beer Release Dinner

Citron, JW Marriott Orlando, Grande Lakes
Thursday, September 19
Reception in Primo Garden at 6pm
Dinner in Citron at 6:30pm
Certified Cicerone Chris Brown and Chef de Cuisine Zeb Hartline will present a five-course beer pairing dinner highlighting New Belgium Beers. The menu, which will include dishes prepared with hops and malt, promises to be just as stimulating as the education guests will receive about beer.
$85 per person (price includes tax and gratuity)
Valet parking will be validated
For reservations please call 407-393-4683

Wreckers Beer Pairing Dinner
Wreckers Sports Bar at Gaylord Palms Resort
Friday, September 27, 7-9pm
A six-course food and beer experience, featuring cuisine from local farms and ranches paired with organic beers from Orlando Brewing, Florida's only USDA-certified organic brewery.
$25.95, plus tax and service charge
For reservations call 407-586-1330.

Oktoberfest Beer Dinner
Ruth's Chris Steak House, Lake Mary
Friday, September 27, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Five gourmet courses, including a Bavarian Sausage Sampler and Black Forest Molten Cake.
$69 per person plus tax and gratuity
Call 407-804-8220 for reservations.

You might also want to check out…

Beertoberfest 2013
Fort Mellon Park, Sanford
Saturday, September 28, 4pm – 8pm
Enjoy unlimited samples of the world’s greatest brews including seasonal and limited edition selections. Also included with the one price admission are tasty treats from area restaurants including Hollerbach’s, Joe’s Crab Shack, The Corner Café, Park Avenue Popcorn Shoppe, Lime Fresh Mexican Grill, The Breezeway Restaurant & Bar, Riverwalk Pizzeria, Dunkin’ Donuts, Sanford’s Little Italy and a bunch more! Live music from the Little Big Band!
$25.00 advance ticket includes all the beer and food samples.
VIP $50.00 advance ticket available (online only) gives access to tented VIP area and upgraded buffet menu from Hollerbach’s Willow Tree Café

Jake's Beer Festival

Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando
Friday, October 4, 5-9pm
An all-you-care-to-enjoy beer and food event with live music performed by Hindu Cowboys. Jake's Beer Festival takes place in the outdoor pavilion of South Seas island paradise.
$35 in advance, $45 at the door