Beer And Food Pairing

2012 Health Benefits of Beer

Although wines are more widely known for their food pairing abilities, beer and food can be a brilliant in all sorts of cuisines.

Beers come in different colours, intensities and flavours which means they can be matched to a variety of foods. As a general rule, the strength of the beer should match the strength of the food flavour. Just like with wines, strong beers are best served with strongly flavoured meals and light beers with delicate dishes. The beer and food pairing should not result in over-power the essence of the dish but complimenting it.

Beer flavours are a product of several features including the malt, hop bitterness, alcohol levels, their roast and the sweetness. Beers also have particular food-like tastes and aromas such as nuts, chocolate, caramel and cheesy. These features can guide your selection of a beer for a particular food. Some German lagers with caramel flavours go well with roasted pork. English brown ale has a nutty flavour and pairs nicely with cheddar cheese.

With beer and food pairing, if you start with the light beers such as lagers and pilsners, these match well with fish and seafood. The same beer types are suitable for soups, bisques and raw salads. Mid-range beers are the likes of ambers and pale ales. Pair them with stronger flavoured dishes of pork and chicken. The dark beers are the porters and robust ales. Their higher alcohol content and heavy taste go best with really hearty red meat dishes of beef, mutton, venison and buffalo steak. Desserts pair well with stouts, fruit ales, sweet ales and barley wine.

Cheese is quite often eaten with a beer. Some cheeses easily lend themselves to being eaten alongside a good beer. Young Gouda cheese is one of them. It’s fairly mild, smooth and low essence flavour makes it a hard to disappoint any beer partner. Other cheeses need careful selection for beer pairing. Aged cheeses, for example parmesan or aged Gouda have more complex flavours and intense aromas. The salty, sharp tastes of such cheese go down well with a cool, refreshing glass of beer.

Wheat beers tend to be light and spicy and the pair up quite well with Gruyere cheese. A red ale which has a sour flavour, combines nicely with a sharp cheddar cheese. Barley wine goes well Stilton cheese.

Beer and food pairing is also affected by the manner of serving the beer. Old beer, for example, tends to go flat and flavourless even if it remains in an unopened bottle. So always buy and serve fresh beer. Additionally, beer tends to turn ‘syrupy’ when allowed to get too warm which means you may not enjoy it’s flavour as well. Just like wines, as you work your way through a meal with different beer options, start with the lighter beers and progress to the darker ones.

Proper beer glasses are also recommended during beer and food pairing as they are shaped to bring out the best of the beer’s flavour. Glasses that are curved at the top help to concentrate the fragrance of the beer. Conical shaped glasses boost the head (froth) of the beer.