How to Match Beer and Food
Updated: Jun 21
Today with all of the focus on local microbreweries and people becoming more quality conscious about beers, there are new efforts afloat to match foods and beers in ways that they can complement one another. It is no longer just about having a beer with a steak and salad, chicken wings, or pizza. Today people are trying to pair foods and beers in such a way that there is a new harmony between the two.
To match foods and beers successfully, it is necessary to figure out what the strengths are of both the food and the beer that might lend themselves to one another. Some of the things to consider are how light dishes and light beers work together. Not light as lightweight or as in having less substance, but light as in delicately flavored. For instance, perhaps a pale ale might work with food such as a salad.
Foods with strong flavors such as dishes with onions or sausage should be paired with stronger-tasting beers and ales. You would need to consider such characteristics or qualities as sweetness and bitterness, highly carbonated or lightly carbonated, the character of the malt, and the richness of the flavors when successfully matching beers and foods. A good example is how a German lager with rich flavor might go well with a dinner of roast pork.
Another way to match beers and foods is to take a look at the country in which the beer is brewed and at the kinds of foods that are served with it there. At first, don’t give up if your beer and food matches are not exactly right on with one another. Light foods can be matched with light ales in the summer and heavier foods with darker ales in the winter.
Here are some examples that might help to match foods and beers. A light, refreshing beer or wheat beer might be a good choice to go with a salad. Red or amber ales work well with certain types of fish, such as smoked salmon. Lagers and pilsners can be good with roasted chicken or other poultry dishes, while grilled or roasted beef might call for a heartier beer, something along the lines of a stout.
Wine and cheese are no longer the only complimentary appetizers. Beers have all of the different flavors necessary to work well with any cheese combination. Here, you might try a hard cheddar cheese with a stout or hardy beer. Some soft cheeses go well with beers that have slightly fruity flavors, such as those of raspberries or strawberries.
There are also beers to go with just about any kind of dessert. Older ales are often good with nutty-tasting sweet bread. If you have a very sweet dessert, such as cheesecake, you might try to find something with a spicy taste. You can’t beat a dark beer for the way it tastes with chocolate, and often a fruit pie might do well with a fruity beer or ale.
As more and more people experiment with the endless possibilities of specialty microbrews, it will be easier and easier to figure out which food and beer pairings work the best. Keep experimenting with different tastes. You are sure to find pleasing combinations and you will have a lot of fun in the process.
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Beer and Ale Expert