| Pairing Beer and Food
by: JR Attamante,
I believe that one of the most delightful aspects of beer in all its
complex glory is pairing it with food. Beer boldly gallops in where
wine slips on occasion such as pairing well with spicy dishes and
When deciding what style of beer to pair with which foods, beware of
sweeping rules. While wine experts have established strict pairing
rules, beer aficionados have stopped short of setting hard and fast
rules. Every palate is different, so let your palate be your guide. Still,
there are a few guidelines I would recommend you consider. Here
are a few.
The malty sweet flavors of a German Marzen cut through the
spiciness of Mexican foods refreshing the palate as it washes down.
Similarly, the acidity of a highly hopped Pilsner or American pale ale
cleans away the fatty film between bites of rich foods like fish and
chips or cheese. To quell the burning sensation of spicy hot foods
like Southwestern dishes with chili peppers, a malty beer with high
alcohol content like a rich German dopplebock is best suited for the
job. Be warned that high alcohol beer with a hoppy astringency like
an India pale ale can be too powerful with hot, spicy foods seemingly
intensifying the heat instead of cooling the palate.
At a sushi bar I particularly enjoy washing down sweet tuna morsels
with a Japanese beer brewed with the full-flavored, mildly sweet
maltiness of Kirin Ichiban lager. s
Another excellent example of food and beer complementing one
another is the pairing of a green salad with a coriander-spiced
Belgian white ale, an unfiltered Bavarian hefe-weizen or a American
wheat beer. The delicate character of wheat beers doesn't
overpower the subtle flavors in a salad but instead enhances them.
When it comes to pairing contrasting foods and beers, it is a little
trickier to find palate pleasing combinations. The classic contrasting
example of pairing a dry Irish-style stout with fresh raw oysters or
cooked mild seafood may not be for everyone. However it has
become such a popular combination, that one style of stout is
brewed with oysters in it -- not surprisingly it's dubbed oyster stout.
I also suggest trying to pair international beer styles with foods from
the same region or country. In most cases, it's no coincidence that
the foods and beers of a given region pair well. Another thing to try
is to pair like with like: mild beers with mild foods, robust beers with
When designing your gastronomic pairings keep in mind the nature
of the occasion. You'll want to select a beer or a style best suited to
the occasion. An elegant corked bottle of a Belgian framboise
shared over Valentines dinner would surly endear your Valentine to
you more than a six pack of pilsner.
Conversely, that six pack of pilsner would be a welcome sight at a
picnic on a hot summer's day, while a magnum bottle of Anchor
Brewing Company's spiced Christmas ale would hold its place on the
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