When I was first thinking about pairing beer and food, I wasn’t sure if one was more important than the other. But after pondering it, I’m thinking food has the edge. It’s what brings us to the table. The table is a special place because it’s a social place. Eating alone for sustenance is boring. The table is where we interact with friends and family, it’s where memories are made and life happens. And of course, good beer makes it that much better.
When planning pairings, consider the characteristics of both the food and beer. It’s best to match intensity of each, as to not overpower the other, and increase intensity throughout the meal. Beer has a lot of pairing characteristics we can work with, like maltiness, sweetness, carbonation, bitterness and alcohol content. If we pay attention to what the beer is telling us, we’ll have a good idea of what foods to pair with it. Remember, it’s more of an art than science. Experiment and have fun with it!
Like beer, food has a lot of characteristics that can be used to complement or contrast the beer it’s paired with. So when you’re planning your menu, think about these things as you’re deciding beer pairings…
- Are there sauces served with the food? I have some friends that do a wing fry, they have 5-6 sauces for the wing, from hot and super-hot buffalo, to garlic herb or Thai peanut. Each sauce could have a different recommended beer pairing.
- What is the cooking method? Are you going to stew, roast, fry, grill or smoke that chicken? Those cooking methods will lend very different taste to the bird.
- Think about preparation. For example are you marinating the ribs or using a dry rub?
- Consider the the ingredients in the dish and how they combine to create flavor combinations, especially the herbs and spices used.
- Also take into account the levels of flavors in the meal:
Next, we’ll consider flavor interactions and see how both complementary and contrasting flavors in beer and food can make delicious pairings.
Eat and drink well. Cheers!