Thanks to the population of Polish immigrants in the Midwest, Paczki Day has become an unofficial regional holiday. Paczki (pronounced “poonch-key”) aren’t just another jelly donut, but part of a rich cultural history. Keep reading to learn more about what makes paczki special and how to celebrate with the perfect beer pairing.
And if you’re desperate to pick up your favorite treats right now, you can find them all in our stores.
Not Just a Jelly Donut: The History of Paczki
Paczki have roots in Poland in the Middle Ages. Like many traditions in Poland, these treats were born out of the observation of Lent in the Catholic faith. Lent is a 40-day period of fasting that takes place before Easter to reflect and prepare for Easter. Indulging in flour, sugar, and eggs during this time was forbidden, so the paczki was created to use these ingredients up. Thus, the tradition of eating paczki on Fat Tuesday, the day before Lent, began.
Although they’re similar to a German Berliner or American jelly donut, paczki have a distinct texture that’s richer than other pastries: fluffy, not too oily, and a bit collapsed. Traditional fillings include prunes, plums, berries, or cream. Today, there are endless varieties of filling, but the distinct paczki dough is a consistent feature setting paczki apart.
The Origin of Paczki Day
To the uninitiated, Paczki Day takes place on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the first day of the Lenten fast. Driven by the large Polish population in the American Midwest, Paczki have become synonymous with Fat Tuesday. Today, everyone is invited to indulge, whether they fast afterward or not.
Combine Two of Your Favorite Things: Paczki and Pints
If you observe Lent, or you just want to enjoy a good pint with your paczki, here’s a list of pairings sure to please the beer and donut fanatic alike.
An Apple Paczki with Short’s Bellaire Brown Ale
A classic brown ale, Short’s Bellaire Brown balances toasted malt and caramel flavors. Since an apple’s best friend is caramel, the Bellaire Brown Ale brings out the best in the apple-cinnamon filling, making this pairing a cozy treat.
An Orange Zest Paczki with a Leinenkugel’s Sunset Belgian Style Witbier
If you’re looking to venture into traditional paczki elements, orange zest is a is a great place to start. The tartness of the orange peel creates a pleasant balancing act with the richness of the paczki pastry. You can accentuate this zip of orange with the light and subtle lemon flavor of Leinenkugel’s Belgian-style Witbier.
A Raspberry Paczki with an Atwater Brewing Whango Mango Beer
In terms of food pairings, raspberry and mango are second to none. Atwater’s beachy Whango Mango ale is lightly hoppy and sweet — a perfect complement to a tart raspberry paczki.
A Vanilla Crème Paczki with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
Another tried-and-true paczki flavor, vanilla crème’s richness can make it difficult to pair. A similarly sweet beer can be too much, while something too hoppy is a setup for gastronomical whiplash. The solution is a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale that balances hoppy flavors and maltiness, creating a refreshing contrast to the rich crème.
A Mixed Berry Paczki with a Goose Island 312 Wheat Beer
Smooth, malty, and easy-to-drink, the Goose Island 312 can handle the bright acidity and richness of an assorted berry paczki. This combo capitalizes on the harmony of complementary flavors in the fruit and the beer.
A Traditional Spiced Plum Paczki with Bell’s Official Hazy IPA
If you’re looking to kick it old school with your paczki selection, a spiced plum-filled donut will do the trick. And an exciting new release from Bell’s Brewing, the Official Hazy IPA, is a perfect companion for a classic paczki. Double dry-hopped with notes of stone fruits and a dry finish, the Official Hazy IPA both complements the plum filling and balances out the paczki’s notorious richness.
Get Your Sweet Treats and Favorite Beers at a VG's Grocery Near You
Whether you’re celebrating Paczki Day, trying to satisfy your sweet tooth, or looking for a refreshing beer (or all three!), you can check out our weekly ad for great deals and stop by one of our stores to pick up everything you need to treat yourself.
And if you’re looking for an even better reason to indulge, Bell’s Official Hazy IPA is on sale in our stores this week! Swing by and pick up a six-pack with your box of donuts today!