Become an expert in paring beer with food

Having the chicken sir? I would recommend the Kronenbourg.

For many years now we've been pairing specific wine's with specific food, and some end up doing it for beer too; the last time you went for a curry, you chose a light well matched Cobra or Kingfisher right?

Well now the industry has caught on and is about to launch a full out assault on the beer paring party. Soon you'll be advised to buy Chimay for mussels and Thatchers for sausages, so here's the Brewers Association's definitive guide on how to make up your own mind.

Uncommonly for this blog, the words are theirs not mine, all credit goes to them, I'm sharing so they get their message far and wide!

1. Match with strength

Delicate dishes work best with delicate beers, and strongly-flavoured foods demand assertive beers—no surprise there. Intensity of flavour is not any single thing, but a sum of the taste experience. In beer, it may involve alcoholic strength, malt character, hop bitterness, sweetness, richness, roastiness and more. In food, richness (okay, let’s just say it—fat), sweetness, cooking methods, spicing, texture and complexity all play a role.

2. Find harmonies

Combinations often work best when they share some common flavour or aroma elements. The nutty flavours of an English brown ale and cheddar cheese; the deep, roasted flavours of imperial stout and chocolate truffles; the clean caramelly flavours of an Oktoberfest lager and roasted pork are all examples of this.

3. Consider sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat(spice) and richness.

Certain qualities of food and beer interact with each other in specific, predictable ways. Taking advantage of these interactions ensures that the food and beer will balance each other, with one partner not throwing the match out of whack. These are specific interactions, different from the intensity-matching mentioned above. One sort of has to parse these out one-by-one as the situation demands, and find flavours that will enhance one another. The chart below lays out the specifics. Foods that have a lot of sweetness or fatty richness (or both) can be matched by a various elements in beer: hop bitterness, sweetness, roasted/toasted malt or alcohol. Carbonation is also effective at cutting richness. Malty sweetness cools the heat, so if you’re leaning to a hoppy beer with spicy food, make sure it has plenty of malt as well.

Idea - match crisp lagers with our pico-de-gallo salsa recipe!

What about compliment/contrast?

The complement aspect is covered by step 2, Find Harmonies.
Contrast is always present to some degree, and may dominate the relationship or not. It’s usually the case that contrasting and complimentary relationships exist, as they are not mutually exclusive. Most of the major players in
contrast are covered by the interacting elements noted in step 3, above. Be aware, however, that having some degree of contrast doesn't remove the need to match intensities as described in step 1. To help us all the brewers association have products a handy chart, for stuff you already knew, but here it's written down to make it easier. Click the pic below for the PDF.


With thanks to the brewers association.