Find the Superior choice of food to complement your favorite beer
For centuries, beer and food have been enjoyed together as part of the good life. Being grain-based, beer can be considered a food. Beer’s broad range of flavors, aromas and textures makes it a perfect match for nearly any kind of food, from handmade sausages to the most luxurious gourmet dishes. Choosing beers and foods that enhance one another requires paying attention to the gustatory qualities of each.
- Match strength with strength. It is simply common sense that delicate dishes work best with delicate beers. It is equally true that strongly-flavored foods demand assertive beers. With beer, flavor intensity involves a variety of qualities such as alcoholic strength, malt character, hop bitterness, sweetness, richness and roastiness.
- Find harmonies. Combinations often work best when food and beverage share some common flavor or aroma elements. The nutty flavor of an English-style brown ale and a handmade cheddar cheese; the deep, roasted flavors of an imperial stout and chocolate truffles; and the rich, caramel flavors of an Oktoberfest lager and roasted pork are all examples of this.
- Consider sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat (spice) and richness. At first, this may seem complicated, but it’s really quite straightforward. Specific characteristics of food and beer interact with each other in predictable ways. Taking advantage of these interactions ensures that the food and beer will balance each other, creating a desire for a taste of the other.
- Look to classic cuisines. The cuisines of beer-drinking countries offer many traditional beer and food combinations. Schnitzel with pale lager may be obvious, but who would have thought to put stout together with oysters? Classic matches like this can be found if you seek them out, and offer a great start to further exploration.
- Practice makes perfect. Not every pairing works as expected—this can be fun if you learn to appreciate the unexpected. Build on the things that work and keep seeking those magic combinations.
- Consider seasonality. The warm summer months favor light foods and beers while heartier fare works best in winter. The beers and foods of a given season pair naturally together and suit the mood as well.
- Contrast and complement. All beer and food combinations should involve both of these principles. Some pairings will be more dependent on contrast, others on complementary flavors. All should strive for some kind of balance.
Food Pairings – Courtesy of the Brewers Association