Raise a Glass and a Fork: The Art of Pairing Craft Beer with Food

Raise a Glass and a Fork: The Art of Pairing Craft Beer with Food
Best craft beer and food pairings

We all make terrible choices everyday, but don’t let a beer-food pairing be one of them. Here are some basic tips to help you choose the right dishes for your beer, or vice versa.

Intensity

The first thing you should know about pairing food and beer is matching the intensity of the two. Afterall, you don’t want one to overpower and erase the flavours of the other. A perfect match results in a pairing that complements each other, rather than having one dominate the other.


Image credit: @holgatebeer

The intensity of a beer is determined by several factors: alcohol percentage, presence of basic or complex flavours, mouthfeel, and carbonation. You can’t really adjust the intensity of the beer since it has already been brewed, but you can play around with its temperature. Colder temperatures can reduce the intensity of the flavours and aromas of the beer.

Basic beer flavours and textures

You can have more fun with pairing beer and food flavours as it will definitely be more flexible than matching their intensity. Different flavours in beer can balance, temper with or even bring out certain flavours in food.

Sweet


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Sweetness in beers depends on the type of malt used and the presence of any residual sugars during the brewing process. Sweet beers, such as a Dubbel or a Bock, are best paired with sour and spicy food as they help balance such flavours very well.

Bitter

Bitterness in beers arise from both the hops, as well as the alcohol content. Bitter, hoppy beers like an IPA or a Stout go very well with dishes that are fattier and contain more protein (like fish).


Image credit: @sebastiancoman

Fats and protein help to absorb some of that bitterness from the beer, unless the bitterness is what you are into. In that case, you may want to pair bitter beers with spicy dishes, as the two flavours reinforce each other.

We would, however, caution against pairing bitter beers with spicy dishes as the resulting flavour would overpower the other complex flavours in both your food and beer.

Sour


Image credit: Andy Hay

Sour beers, namely a Flemish Ale or a Lambic, are perfect with salty or spicy foods, as they would complement the tart flavours of such beers. We would recommend avoiding pairing sour dishes with sour beers, as the combination of the sour flavours can be too overwhelming.

Salty

Certain beers, like Gose, have a hint of salt in their flavour profiles. Salt is an excellent flavour enhancer for sweetness, and also helps to cut bitterness. As such, chocolate, caramel, or bitter dishes would pair well with salty beers.

Spicy


Image credit: @streets_of_food

Spicy beers, like a Tripel, are perfect with spicy dishes. The different types of spice in the beer and the food will help to enhance each other.

Caramel


Image credit: José Ignacio Pompé

Dark beers, such as a Dubbel and a Quadrupel, often have a hint of roasted caramel due to a longer roasting process. These beers go super well with roasted meat like duck, venison, lamb, or beef.

Carbonation


Image credit: @coronadobrewing

Carbonation in beer is an excellent palate cleanser as it leaves your mouth feeling fresh and clean. As such, beers that are high in carbonation, like a Tripel, is perfect with fatty and greasy food, as these beers will help cut through all that.

Best beer and food pairings

Besides matching intensity and flavours, a good rule of thumb is to pair beers and foods with similar flavours. For instance, beers with a hint of chocolate would go well with chocolate cake. Otherwise, you could look at popular flavour matches, such as banana and chocolate, and pair your chocolate-flavoured beer with a banana pie.

Food and beer pairings are ultimately subjective; what works for everyone may not work for you. As such, the best way to figure out your favourite food-beer pairings is to experiment with the different flavours yourself!

Raise a Glass and a Fork: The Art of Pairing Craft Beer with Food

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