While wine and food have been paired for what seems like eons, beer and food pairings are just as important, even if lesser known.
Many people might simply pair their favorite brew with a hamburger or whatever their favorite bar serves them, but there is a more precise art to pairing beer and food. Certain foods can completely change the flavor of a beer, which can be either good or bad, depending on the pairing. Not only can beer be paired with foods like cheese, but surprisingly can work well with dessert as well.
There are two basic tactics for pairing beer and food. The first is to pair beers with a certain flavor palate to foods in a similar range, such as a fruity dessert with a fruity beer. On the other hand, one may also pair contrasting tastes to create a new, unique flavor. For example, a sweet dessert paired with a dark and bitter coffee porter can actually make the beer taste lighter. Or a fruity beer paired with cheese might actually begin to taste like coffee. Lighter beers are typically better paired with light dishes, and heavy beers with heavier food.
Another way to pair beers with food is to match imports to food traditional to their country of origin. For example, a Hefeweizen pairs well with weisswurst or a German pretzel. On the other hand, experts do not recommend just any Mexican lager when consuming spicy foods. Wheat beers, which tend to contain a strong citrus or fruity flavor, are recommended when pairing with bolder foods.
Typically, the more bitter the beer, the more it will overpower the food. For a more bitter beer (or a dark beer), heavier meals such as barbeque, strong cheeses, and gamey meat will pair best. To pair bitter beer with desserts, these heavier or darker beers work best with fruit desserts, versus cakes and chocolate. Dark beers work better with chocolate and richer desserts. Lighter beers work best with light desserts, such as plain fruit or banana cream pie.
For the easiest pairing, follow the same “light with light and heavy with heavy” rule of thumb when pairing beers and cheeses. Wheat beer works well with fresh mozzarella, while IPAs can stand up to extra sharp cheddar.
The number one rule for pairing beer and food is to experiment! You may find some strange combinations that end up making your beer taste even better than it did before your paired it with food. Nothing is truly off-limits.
If you would like some more assistance pairing beer and food, simply visit Julio’s Liquors in Westborough, MA, and we can help you find the perfect pair. We have an extensive stock of craft beers, as well as a gourmet food shop that sells many different local cheeses as well as other food items.