Whether you like to drink beer as a refreshing beverage between meals or prefer it with food, the varieties of beer available today are more attractive than ever. For example, many brewers now use hop pellets to create a combination of flavor and aroma. Even if you’ve never tried beer made with hops, you’ll notice the difference in taste between low-foam and high-foam versions.
To find good food and beer pairing combinations, it’s best to experiment with several different kinds. Some of the most common food and beer pairings include sweet and savory flavors, with a hint of bitterness on end. Beer flavor can also vary by region: German brews may be biscuit-like or spicy and herbal. In general, darker and smokier beers pair well with fuller-bodied foods, while light lagers pair well with savory items.
One easy way to find a great beer pairing is to consider the flavors of your favorite dishes. If you have any rice or other grain-based stews or hearty dishes, pairing them with a lighter beer can help cleanse the palette. Similarly, fish and chips are a good bet for a wash, although you can dress them up with sauerkraut, ginger ale, or mustard in a pinch. Other foods that make good food and beer pairing possibilities include Mexican chili, Italian pasta, Chinese stir-fry, and Middle Eastern kebabs.
One of the most versatile foods and beer pairings is to serve the same dish as a complimentary brew. Many restaurants have a sous vide selection on tap, which means using a vacuum sealer for cooking fish or poultry in water that has been seasoned with salt. Pairing this salty fish with sweet apple cider vinegar or stout IPAs works perfectly, as does a keg made with pale ales and dark lagers. If you are serving it with chicken, brown stout will round out the taste.
Another easy beer and food pairing is serving a hearty stew alongside sweet potatoes as a world of beer. Both robust maltiness and buttery flavor are characteristic of Hoof Hearted, a British beer often paired with chocolate malt in chocolate wedding recipes. If you like beefier dishes, try an Irish stout like Guinness or a German dark like Bitburger. For a hoof-hearted twist on a chicken dish, try a traditional chicken pot pie with a hoof hearted in a rich beer like McCloud. The complementing flavors will give you the right amount of spice, but not too much so that you get the meaty taste.
Carbonation is another vital component of many beers, especially lagers. If you pair sweet/sour beers with fatty foods, opt for lagers with light to medium body carbonation. A session pilsner will have a more petite body than a heavier beer, while a wheat beer will have more carbonation than either a light beer or a dark lager.
Beer and food go together perfectly when paired with French fries. Both are heavy and richly flavored, with the French fries being thicker and crunchier than other batter forms. Pairing beer with French fries is like taking out a square of French fries on a bed of sour cream – the contrasting flavors will be irresistible. Look for light lagers with light to the medium body for best results.
Finally, when you’re looking for great pairings with food, think about desserts. Any pairing of sugary and acidic foods goes well with beer. Your brain will make connections between sweet and sour, the creamy and evil, the spicy and mild. You’ll get an idea of which desserts go best with which beers, but if you’re still not sure, stick to light to medium-bodied lagers. Light beers are easier to drink when you are trying to decide on a dessert to pair with.