Complement & Contrast – Flavors & Meal Planning

As we wrap up this series on beer and food pairing, let’s talk about flavor interactions when planning your meal. Most of the time, we think of the flavors in beer and food complementing each other, but we can also use dissimilar flavors in beer and food to contrast the other. When pairing for complementary flavors, or resonance, you should look for compatible flavors present in both the dish and the glass. For example, a Porter with a hint of chocolate, would pair nicely with a similarly chocolaty Mexican Mole sauce.

On the other side of the spectrum, dissimilar flavors accentuate the differences in the pairing and make both the food and beer taste better. Sour beers, such as a Gueuze, are great with Mussels because the sour acidity contrast the sweetness and richness of meat. Also, beer characteristics, such as carbonation, sourness and bitterness, “cut” the flavors of food and cleanse the palate. The cutting character of beer helps cleanse the palate by removing rich and fatty flavors. Like a bitter IPA, which refreshes the palate while enjoying delicious, but fatty, fish and chips.

It’s fitting to end this beer and food series with an example of a well-paired meal. Here’s the menu from a beer dinner hosted by Craft Brewed Nashville, with Blackstone Brewing’s beer and food by Frothy Monkey and Chef Chase Ingalls. As you explore the courses, think about the concepts of pairing: intensity, flavor interaction, food preparation, beer qualities, complement and contrast. This was a fantastic dinner and Chef Chase’s pairing selections were spot-on.


  1. Crab Stuffed Ahi Tuna, with Smoked Sea Salt, Charred Grapefruit and Mango-Honey Puree
    • Blackstone American Pale Ale
  2. Duck and Cherry Rillette, with Chilled Butternut Squash and Cinnamon Corn Anglaise
    • Blackstone Pumpkin Ale
  3. Butter Poached Lobster Tail, with Tomato Confit, Watercress Salad, Parmesan Crisp and Pomegranate Molasses
    • Blackstone Hop Jack IPA
  4. Porter Braised Bear Creek Farms Brisket, with Roasted Fingerlings, Caramelized Pearl Onions, Brussels Sprouts and Foie Gras Pan Jus
    • Blackstone St Charles Porter
  5. House Made Graham Cracker, Chocolate Covered Benton’s Bacon, Toasted Marshmallow, Olive & Sinclair Bittersweet Ganache, Belle Meade Bourbon Ice Cream
    • Blackstone Barista Brew Black Coffee Stout, made with Frothy Monkey Roasting Company

Remember, the rules of beer and food pairing are there to guide you, but they are not rigid. Experiment with pairings… you never know when serendipity will hit!

To good food and beer, cheers!