Beer + Food
Wine and food is a wonderful thing and saturates the fine dining world, with beer often regarded as the unsophisticated choice for the dinner table. White wine and fish, red meat and merlot, and port and cheese are safe pairings, but for the discerning and curious beer drinker, there’s an alternative way…
Let’s swap the sauvignon for a cider, red wine for red IPA, and port for porter. If the average wine drinker knows that they like a particular region of grape variety, there is as much depth and variation in hops and beer-styles to intrigue and excite. As beer and food matching is a growing concept in modern cuisine, there are no hard and fast rules. Discovering a great taste combination is exciting and rewarding so it’s best not to feel constrained by anything other than good taste. Do remember that everyone’s palate is different, so what works for one might not work for another.
Here are some classic beer and food matching hints, tips and suggestions:
Treat beer like wine, it’s about head space
It’s important to use good glassware. Beer is commonly drunk from straight edged glasses that doesn’t help to deliver the optimum performance. In our opinion beer looks better in a chalice (red wine / brandy balloon) glass which also holds the liquid properly and accentuates the aroma.
Match lighter beers with lighter flavours and dark beers with fuller flavours
White fish and chicken work well with lighter ales and lagers like a good Pilsner, but for darker, richer dishes such as lamb, go for dark, rich beers like a vintage ale or Belgian Dubbel.
Beer as an ingredient
As well as matching your beer with food, use the beer as an ingredient in recipes for a more advanced integration of flavour. By doing this you’ll be bridging the flavour gap between the two and the food will naturally complement the beer.
Don’t be afraid to train your staff or ask for training, whether in restaurants, bars or pubs. Whilst the trade is embracing this beer renaissance, it is still embryonic, until people are more confident to ask for recommendations and try new beer and food matches, it’s up to us to empower people to have confidence in beer and food.
Ed’s Tip – Be pushy. Write your beer match suggestions alongside menu items on your specials board.
“you’ve got to taste it”
It sounds very simple but the advice from Michelin Starred Nathan Outlaw, who really champions food and beer pairings, is you’ve got to take the time to try the different flavours for yourself. From there the ideas will usually click. Theoretical matches don’t always work, so it’s a great excuse to try a selection of beers and find what works for your taste!
Ed’s Tip –Why not hold tasting sessions for customers on a quieter evening with sample size sliders and drink suggestions? Get your customers exploring this concept in a low risk environment and it could pay dividends.