Beer is a drink that’s best served cold, and it’s flexible enough to be enjoyed alone or with an accompanying appetizer or meal. Given its many varieties, there’s a beer for every mood. Whether you’re winding down from a long workday, celebrating your favorite sports team’s victory, or simply sharing a cold one with friends, it’s a drink for all occasions.
However, beer is undoubtedly taken to the next level when paired with food. Creatively matching craft beer with a delicious meal can send you to gastronomic nirvana, creating an unforgettable experience you’ll want to recreate. To become an expert at pairing beer with food, you’ll have to understand beer’s flavors and the dishes it best complements.
The General Guidelines of Pairing Beer and Food
There aren’t any hard and fast rules for matching beer with food, as it usually boils down to personal preference. You may end up liking an unpopular pairing depending on your taste and mood. However, a few guidelines will ensure that you partner your beer whose flavors will not clash with your food.
If you’re aiming to create a delicious pairing by contrasting flavors, you can select a beer or a dish with one prominent, intense flavor. The taste notes can range from rich to sweet to oily. Your food must have a distinct taste that shines through its pairing with beer without overpowering the beverage. An example of an excellent contrast pairing is oysters and stout beer. Oysters carry a robust, salty flavor that holds its own against the stout’s rich and chocolatey flavors.
Another way to pair beer and food together is to choose flavors that complement each other. Partner rich and hearty foods with heavy beers. For example, a meat-laden pizza will pair exceptionally with a porter or a stout. Similarly, if you have a light and fresh salad, you’ll want to go with a light craft beer.
Beer is also effective as a palate cleanser, primarily when you’re eating a dish with overwhelming flavors, like fatty, fried food, or incredibly flavorful cuisine, like Indian or Korean. The refreshing taste of a light beer is perfect for washing down the heat of an extra-spicy curry or Korean fried chicken. You can also flip this over and use food like french fries to soften the bitterness of an India pale ale (IPA).
A Quick Guide to Pairing Beer By Style
The world of beers is vast in terms of alcohol content, taste, color, and even mouthfeel. Craft beer takes this to another level by using unique brewing techniques to produce sublime flavors that pair even better with food. However, to make an excellent match for beer and food, you’ll have to understand the different styles of beer. Here’s a quick reference to help you make a pairing:
- Light lagers: These beers go well with spicy food, hearty meals like burgers, and light dishes like salads
- Wheat beers: These thick, foamy beers also pair well with spicy food. They’re also an excellent match for fruity desserts.
- Amber ales: The malty drink is excellent for rich food like pizza, smoked pork, and fried food.
- IPAs: With its bitter and fruity notes, it partners excellently with barbecue, steak, and Mexican cuisine.
- Brown ales: Its mild and hoppy taste makes it a perfect match for sushi, fish, and sausages.
- Dark lagers: Like amber ales, it pairs well with pizza, burgers, and heavy stews.
- Stouts: The high malt notes of stout beers go well with chocolate desserts, Mexican food, and shellfish.
- Porters: Similar to stouts, porters match seafood, gamey meats, and coffee-flavored desserts very well.
Beer and food pairings take a dining experience to the next level. Although they’re perfectly enjoyed individually, the flavors and notes create new sensations when matching them together. Matching the perfect beer with a savory dish can be tricky, but with our guide, you’ll be an expert in no time.
Sip Coffee and Beer is a coffee shop, restaurant, tap house, and cocktail bar in Arizona. We use only locally sourced ingredients from all over the state. Whether you’re in the mood for live music, yoga under the stars, or an all-around entertaining evening, we have the perfect vibe, beverages, and food to go with it. Find our nearest location to you today!