Beer Goes With Salad You Know
Matching Beer with healthy salads
by A. Bruce Sandson
For those of you who have met Bob you realize this is one guy who
must eat a lot of salads. It's either that or he works out 8 hours a day.
When I was trying to begin a more healthy diet I asked Bob for advice
and he said "Beer (well he always says that) and salads. Well, I took his
advice, lost nearly 20 pounds and now feel great. As I ate more and
more salad I experimented with which beers would enhance their
First, remember that salads are now are among the world's most
perfect foods, especially this time of year. They can be sweet, tart,
savory, spicy, herbal, fruity, and funky, sometimes all at once. But with
so many simultaneous flavors, they can pose problems when trying to
choose the perfect beer. The acidity of a vinaigrette, for instance, and
the bitterness of certain greens can be hard to partner up. In the
beginning it was really hard for me to decide which flavors to focus my
beer matching on when there's so many things to deal with.
By the way, I even tried wine at first. However it was quickly evident
that the wine was often knocked out by a salad. Beer easily stood up
to the most aggressive salad flavors and had the added bonus of
offering a wide range of flavors to partner well with just about anything
you might slice, dice, or toss.
Here are my simple rules of thumb to keep in mind when you make
your beer selection-
1. Keep it on the lighter side: Lighter-weight salads need a beer to
match. Reach first for pilsners, hefeweizens, and American wheat beers.
2. Acid + Acid = Less Acid: While this seems counter-intuitive, pouring
an acidic beverage with acidic foods lessens the perception of acidity in
both. Sour Flanders red ales are amazing with pickled herring, for
instance. Pick beers with some pronounced acidity to serve with
strong vinaigrette. Lambic, gueuze, Berliner weisse and geuze all work
3. Hops and fizz cut fat: For salads with fatty components, whether
that comes from avocado, mayonnaise, or meat, hoppy and fizzy
beers will leave your palate feeling clean and fresh. Consider pilsners,
saisons, or American-style pale ales.
4. Pick an anchor flavor: With some salads there's so much going on
that it's easy to become a deer in the headlights. Look at all the
ingredients of your salad, then pick a flavor and go with it. It might be
the dressing or it might be a light crumbling of blue cheese or bacon.
Focus on choosing a beer that will draw out that flavor.
I generally pick the beer I want first then decide on which salad to
make to match it. I guess most people do it the other way around but
remember we're beer people first and foremost! The keywords to
keep in mind in deciding how the beer will impact the food are "cut,"
"complement" and "contrast."
One warning - I learned the hard way - drinking the wrong beer with
certain salads will detract from both the food and the beer. The flavors
in the beer can overwhelm the salad, but the reverse can also occur.
Just remember that matching any type of food with beer is not an
exact science. There are no set rules which makes it fun. All I know is
that every time I try a different beer with a different food, I'm awed
by the possibilities.
Many thanks to Bob for allowing me to write this month's column. It's
been a blast!
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