Beer and food have been enjoyed together for centuries.
Beer’s broad range of flavors, aromas and textures make it a perfect match for nearly any kind of food, from handmade sausages to gourmet dishes. Choosing beers and foods that enhance each other requires paying attention to the gustatory qualities of each. The Brewers Association, along with several beer and food experts, have suggestions that will make your culinary experiences more enjoyable.
For great beer and food pairings, a number of things should be considered according to Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer: An Insiders Guide to the World’s Greatest Drink:
- Match strength with strength. It is common sense that delicate dishes work best with delicate beers. It is equally true that strongly-flavored foods demand assertive beers. With beer, flavor intensity involves a variety of qualities such as alcoholic strength, malt character, hop bitterness, sweetness, richness and roast factor.
- Find harmonies. Combinations often work best when food and beverage share common flavor or aroma elements. The nutty flavor of an English-style brown ale and a handmade cheddar cheese; the deep, roasted flavors of an imperial stout and chocolate truffles; or the rich, caramel flavors of an Oktoberfest lager and roasted pork.
- Consider sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat (spice) and richness. This is straightforward. Specific characteristics of food and beer interact with each other in predictable ways. Taking advantage of these interactions ensures that the food and beer will balance each other, creating a desire for a taste of the other.
- Look to classical cuisines. The cuisines of traditional beer-drinking countries offer many beer and food combinations. Schnitzel with pale lager may be obvious, but who would have thought to put stout together with oysters? Classic matches like this can be found if you seek them out, and offer a great start to further exploration.
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