Food Pairings

Beer and food, what else is there?

For many thousands of years beer and food have been consumed by humans in perfect harmony.

Beer is actually considered a food because it’s grain-based.  Beer has a seemingly never-ending variety and countless flavours, aromas and textures.  This allows us to mix and match different styles of beers with different types of food just as is done with the best wines.

The concept of drinking beer with food isn’t so strange, however a new art or science has been developed perfecting which of the different styles of craft beer tastes the best with which food and which are best to cook with for different recipes.  This new art or science has been coined as “Pairing” and far from being just more “mumbo-jumbo” actually makes a great deal of sense.

Considering taste is subjective, personal pairing opinions open the door for a lot of debate and an infinity of combinations to experiment with in beer and food.  So the general idea is to choose beers and foods that actually enhance each other resulting in greater flavour and a better dining experience.  We believe the following suggestions will make your next beer & food pairing experience an enjoyable success. 

Match strength with strength.  Common sense dictates that delicate dishes work best with delicate beers.  The more malt character or hop bitterness a beer has, the heartier, more assertive and strongly-flavoured the meal needs to be to maintain a good pairing.  Don’t overwhelm your palate with too many varied and complex characters.  Flavour intensity involves a variety of qualities in the beer such as alcoholic strength, malt character, hop bitterness, sweetness and richness.

So try to keep hearty with hearty, sweet with sweet, nutty with nutty and tart with tart.  Find the perfect harmony by always keeping your beer slightly sweeter, nuttier or more tart than the food.  Combinations very often work best when food and beer share a common flavour or aroma.

Hoppy beers, such as our West Coast IPA, can be used in place of dry white wines and malty beers, such as our Lian Shee, can be used in place of richer red wines for food pairs or cooking purposes.  This all may seem very complicated, but it’s really quite straightforward.  The better you get at isolating the specific characteristics of food and beer, like sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, spice and richness, the better you will become at predicting the flavour interaction between your pairing.  Taking advantage of these “pairing interactions” ensures that your combination will be balanced, each creating a desire for the taste of the other.  Pairing must contain both contrasting and complementary elements but great pairing is about balance. 

Remember that personal taste is always subjective and what works for one person might not work for another.  So as a general rule, if it tastes good to you, then use it but be open to other people’s suggestions as they may come with valuable knowledge born out of experience; regardless it certainly makes for good dinner conversations.  Look to the classic cuisines of beer-drinking countries as they tend to offer many unique beer-oriented dishes established generations ago with their recipes passed down through the years.  

Every once in a while, throw all of the rules out and just experiment.  If you take careful note of the results you will surely be enlightening and surprising your palate with wonderful new experiences.

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