An Essential Beer and Food Pairing Guide for Beginners
Beer and food go hand in hand on many occasions, whether for big celebrations or simple meals at home. They’re also the go-to combination in restaurants, clubs parties, and are enjoyed by many. In our opinion nothing beats having a refreshing beer paired perfectly with various sweet and savoury food items.
Foodies, beer lovers, and casual drinkers consider it a treat to have several types of beers to enjoy and pair with their favourite finger food or dishes. However, how do you pair the different types of drinks with food to ensure you’ll have the best flavour combination and dining experience?
Here’s a general but essential beer and food pairing guide for beginners which you may find helpful.
Some light-bodied types of beer include lagers, wheat beers, and Pilsner. They’re refreshing, crisp, and neutral in flavour. Because of their light body and flavour, they tend to work well with any savoury dish, particularly those with a kick of spice in them.
Light-bodied beers are your best bet the next time you snack on spicy chicken wings or nachos. They also work well with grilled treats such as hotdogs and kebabs or a pita, which make light drinks ideal for barbecue parties.
Are you looking for a crisp drink to cut the richness of cheesy dishes? Pilsner can be a good match, although some cheeses pair well with a special beer. For example, in Belgium some monasteries where beer is brewed also produce cheese with the same name. It would be a sin to enjoy the cheese with another ‘strange’ beer.
A light-bodied beer is also ideal during a hot day and pairs equally well with salads and easy seafood dishes, white meat, or pasta. Wheat beer might be the perfect drink to end the meal if you have a fruity dessert such as berry panna cotta or a cherry jubilee. Its light taste which is soft on the palate makes it an excellent match with sweet tarts and pastries as well.
Medium-bodied drinks include India pale ales (IPAs), ales, and bock beers. India pale ales are characterised by their brassy, bitter taste, which makes them perfect for flavourful dishes. The best pairings for IPA beers are grilled steaks, barbecue, burritos, and fried delights such as French fries, crispy chicken, or mozzarella sticks.
The toasty and aromatic flavours of ales work also when served with savoury dishes such as pizza, briskets, smoked ribs, and bacon. Some find that ale is a go-to drink with Asian and Mexican cuisine since its depth of flavour works just right with rich, creamy, and spicy food. We personally would choose a light-bodied beer. Would you consider grabbing a glass of cold ale the next time you have a Thai curry or a plate of spicy enchiladas?
You’ll have a variety of dish options to choose from with a glass of strong, dark bock beer. Its rich and toasty flavours work well with flavourful meal options and since bock beer features crisp and refreshing flavours, it’s best to pair them with hearty, filling comfort food.
Full-bodied beers such as stout, Porter, and barleywine beer typically have a hint of caramel balanced by deep, full-roasted flavours and aromas. Since they have deep flavours with a touch of sweetness, stout beers are paired perfectly with salty dishes such as clams and oysters. Bacon and barbecue meat are also pleasurable with these kinds of beers, and stout also works well with chocolate or coffee-based desserts such as mousses, cakes, or banoffee pies.
Porter beers are deep, aromatic, and toasty, making them ideal for pairing with game such as rabbit, or venison. Finally, the hint of coffee and chocolate makes this beer perfect for desserts with the same flavour profile.
Barleywine beers offer the same robust flavour and fragrance as their counterparts, making it a great drink to pair with dishes with a similar depth and strength. You can drink them with heavy roasts, hearty stews, and other food full-flavoured foods and creamy items. It’s a great option if you want to dig into rich, pungent cheeses such as Camembert, Rochefort, Stilton, or other blue cheese.
How to serve beer correctly
There are many ways to serve beer, and it is important to learn the basics to optimise the flavours. Belgium is known as the ultimate beer country and you can surely learn from the many beer brewers how to do it right! Besides, when serving beer correctly with a meal, there are various ways to make it an enjoyable, refreshing, and satisfying food adventure.
These suggested pairings have been tried and tested by many beer and food lovers, though you’re certainly free to make your own preferred flavour combinations. Explore as many types of beer as you can handle, and match them with your favourite dishes and snacks to create your beer and food matching list. Anyone is free to explore food and dining in their unique way, and nothing should stop you from creating an experience that best suits your taste and dining style.