Food and Beer Pairing
To us at Beermerchants.com, food is almost as important to us as beer. We're always talking about what beers go best with which dish or getting our colleagues to try different beers and food combinations. I'm sure that many of you want to know which are our favourite pairings? Well, here's just a few...
Golden or blonde ale, American style wheat ales, lightly hopped lagers
Since these beers lack both maltiness and hoppiness, they work best as thirst-quenchers. Try them with spiced foods such as hot currys .Once your tongue has been assaulted with hot spices, complex beers will either overload your palate or lose their intricate flavours.
You want to be able to enjoy the flavours of the yeast, so stick with delicate foods such as delicate soups or light pasta / cheese dishes. These beers also work well with other lightly flavoured vegetarian or grilled chicken dishes.
A good all-around beer for any food that isn't sweet – that would detract from the maltiness of the beer. Works well with sandwiches, hearty soups and pizzas. Also a good slaker when you have hot barbecue or Mexican dishes.
English Pale Ale, English Style India pale ale, German/Bohemian pilsners
As hoppiness cuts through grease and vinegar, these styles are perfect with fried food such as fish and chips. They also complement smoked, boiled, steamed or grilled seafood. And they can enhance highly spiced cuisine.
Fruitier pale ales will complement lamb, beef and game. English or American brown ales are robust enough to match with beefburgers or sausages. And there's the not-so-obvious - English brown can go well with smoked fish whilst game dishes stand up to the extra hoppiness of an American brown.
Porter, dry or oatmeal stout
Think hearty foods -- meat dishes with gravy, barbecues, shepherd's pie, stews. Oysters are ideal. These beers (and the brown ales) will stand up to stronger cheeses such as sharp cheddars and blues such as Stilton.
Cream or sweet stout, imperial stout
These are made for chocolate - imperial stout pairs especially well with dark chocolate. Also try chocolate-and-fruit desserts, such as stout cheesecake with raspberry sauce, or flans with caramel and pecans.
Vienna lager/Oktoberfest/Märzen, dark lager, bock
Like amber ale, these are good all-arounders. The lagers will cut through the heaviness of sauce-based meat dishes - chicken paprikash, goulash or pork rouladen, for example - and will stand up to their strong flavours. That's why they're also the perfect beers to serve with pretzels.. Sweeter bocks, such as doppelbocks, complement heartier, spicier desserts such as pumpkin pie or spice cake. And try a classic Schwartzbier – dark lager - with a good steak.
Fruit beers, Fruited Lambics.
Sweeter fruit beers and fruit lambics pair wonderfully with light fruit desserts such as souffle or chiffon cake/ Sour ones will probably overwhelm delicate fruit flavours, so try them instead with bolder foods such as dark chocolate. Dishes prepared with fruit, such as a raspberry-glazed duck breast, can be enhanced by the complimentary flavours of fruit beer.. Also consider enjoying such beers at the end of the meal.
Old ale, barley wine.
These high-alcohol, robustly malty beers can be more than a mouthful with many foods but compliment perfectly a full-flavoured cheeseboard.
A few more guidelines:
- don't always match like with like. As you can see from the suggestions above, lighter beers tend to go well with lighter foods, heavier beers with heavier foods, but that's not a hard-and-fast rule. Contrasting flavours can work just as well; if you enjoy sweet and sour chicken, you'll know what we mean...
- think about the beers that work well with food in their country of origin. There's a reason why the Brits drink bitter with steak pie; they work well together. So think about pairing German bratwurst with a dark lager, Belgian fish stew with a witbier, rack of ribs with an American brown ale or steamed clams with a hoppy New Zealand style pilsner..
- keep reading! beermerchants.com recomends "The Brewmasters Table" by Garrett Oliver, and the quality musings of the Homebrewchef - Sean Z Paxton.