How to Pair Beer the Easy Way
While wine pairings are widely available, beer often seems to be left out, even though it has such a strong table presence. Beer is stereotypically believed to be only suitable for hearty meat dishes and grub food, but the flavours and tastes of our beloved hoppy beverage have more to offer. Here are some easy tips on how to pair beer the easy way.
Where to start?
Although it can seem that way, but pairing food and drinks isn’t rocket science – meaning it can be learned. What you want to achieve is a desired experience with flavours and tastes in harmony with each other. If you don’t have a particular goal in mind (or have never done it before), you simply start with either the food or the kind of beer. Once you have decided on one part, you can find the perfect taste in the other part.
Most people will find it easier to start with food, trying to find the perfect beer match. Once you have selected your dish or dishes, you need to break them down into basic food components. What is the main ingredient base, taste, or flavour? Is it shellfish, grains, rich meats, vegetables or braised meat? Those are just a few examples – there are of course more.
Compliment or contrast?
Pairing drinks and food isn’t only about complimenting each other. Although a dessert will often go well with slightly sweet beer, you can also choose to contrast food and drink. As long as the tastes are in harmony, you can do it either way. An IPA is actually just as good for desserts, as the strong taste will cut through the sweetness, creating a pleasant experience.
Keeping it level
Both taste and flavour of food and beer can be overpowering and intense. The trick here is to match them at the same level. If the strong hoppy flavour of an IPA overpowers your delicate risotto, you won’t enjoy the latter. If your dish is however very rich and heavy, the strong IPA will suit you well, as all the flavours are strong enough.
Even though you consider yourself to be entirely hopeless with flavours and tastes, you can learn how to pair beer. Don’t make it too hard for yourself and start easy. Take one of your favourite meals and drink a good old Pilsner with it. This particular kind of beer is very crisp and clean, helping you to cleanse your palette. That way you can detect the food flavours better and start thinking about what other beer taste would suit that meal – malty, hoppy, sweet, roasty, fruity, or sour? Take it step by step.