Beer and Food Pairings 101

Beer and Food at the Benelux Brewpub in Montreal

Beer and Food at the Benelux Brewpub in Montreal

Most people have a much easier time figuring out what wine to have with dinner than they do what beer.  But food and beer pairings are way more versatile and enjoyable than wine in my opinion.  Trouble is most people aren’t entirely sure what to pair with beer because there are so many variables.  I generally start by checking out what is on the beer menu before I decide what food to order.  That usually helps to narrow it down a little.  But if you are in the mood for a specific food item start there and find a beer that best matches it.

But what do you do next?  As luck would have it I came across this great info-graphic at Buzzbin that helps to summarize the choices.  (I suggest saving each of the photos and keeping them handy on your smart phone for quick consultation.) It has narrowed it down to 10 basic beer styles, it simplifies things and it is quite helpful.

Pilsners are light straw to golden in colour with a dense and rich head.  The flavour is simple with light grain and hops bittering.  it has a clean and refreshing finish.

Pilsners are light straw to golden in colour with a dense and rich head. The flavour is simple with light grain and hops bittering. it has a clean and refreshing finish.

Wheat beers (found under many different names, such as Hefeweizen and Wit) are refreshing, pale in colour, sometimes cloudy and unfiltered, and highly carbonated.  Fruity flavours are common.  In addition to the graphics listed brunch food like Eggs Benedict also pair well with wheat beers.

Wheat beers (found under many different names, such as Hefeweizen and Wit) are refreshing, pale in colour, sometimes cloudy and unfiltered, and highly carbonated. Fruity flavours are common. In addition to the graphics listed brunch food like eggs benedict also pair well with wheat beers.

Pale ale is usually light-coloured beer that is both malty and hoppy.  Pale ales (or bitters) from England are often  earthy and spicy, where as American pale ales are a little lighter, usually with grapefruit and pine characteristics.

Pale ale is usually light-coloured beer that is both malty and hoppy. Pale ales (or bitters) from England are often earthy and spicy, where as American pale ales are a little lighter, usually with citrus and/or pine characteristics.

Lagers are crisp and refreshing with a smooth finish from longer aging. Most lagers are a pale to medium gold colour, have high carbonation, and a low to medium hop flavour.

Lagers are crisp and refreshing with a smooth finish from longer aging. Most lagers are a pale but can also be a medium to dark amber to jet black colour.  They have high carbonation, and a low to medium hop flavour.

The saison is a complex style of beer; many are very fruity and spicy in aroma and flavour, with mild to moderate tartness.  They tend to be semi-dry and vary in colour from pale to reddish amber.

The saison is a complex style of beer; many are very fruity and spicy in aroma and flavour, with mild to moderate tartness. They tend to be semi-dry and vary in colour from pale to reddish amber.

IPAs range in colour from very pale golden to reddish amber.  They are moderate to medium bodied with herbal and/or citric character, and are known for their bitter aroma and flavour.

IPAs range in colour from very pale golden to reddish amber. They are medium to full bodied with herbal and/or citric character, and are known for their bitter aroma and flavour.

True to it's name, brown ale is a dark amber colour.  They have a higher level of malt, which makes them more earthy and less bitter.  Flavours vary from sweet to slightly hoppy, to malty.

True to it’s name, brown ale is a dark amber colour. They have a higher level of malt, which makes them somewhat sweeter and the hops used make it earthy and less bitter. Flavours vary from sweet to slightly hoppy (earthy/herbal), to malty.

Bock beer is a rich, complex, malt forward, low hop style of lager, with a dark amber to brown hue.  Among the heaviest and maltiest, yet smoothest, of brews, they are very rich in flavours of dark fruits and chocolate.

Bock beer is a rich, complex, malt forward, low hop style of lager, with a dark amber to brown hue. Among the heaviest and maltiest, yet smoothest, of brews, they are very rich in flavours of dark fruits and hints of chocolate.

Stout features a rich, creamy head and is flavoured and coloured by roasted barley.  Stouts often use a portion of unmalted roasted barley to develop a dark, slightly astringent, coffee-like character.

Stout features a rich, creamy head and is flavoured and coloured by roasted barley. Stouts often use a portion of unmalted roasted barley to develop a dark, slightly astringent, coffee-like character.

Porter is a dark, almost black, fruity-dry, top fermented style.  An ale, porter is brewed with a combination of roasted malts to impart flavour, colour and aroma.

Porter is a dark, almost black, fruity-dry, top fermented style. An ale, porter is brewed with a combination of roasted malts to impart flavour, colour and aroma.

One final thought when doing beer and food pairings:   What grows together, goes together.  So beer from a certain region or country generally pairs well with food from that region or country.  A good example would be cheddar cheese and English bitters or pale ales.  Enjoy!

Advertisements

Buffalo Cauliflower Wings and Cameron’s Lager

I’m a huge fan of Frank’s Red Hot Sauce and chicken wings, but I’m also a huge fan of oven roasted cauliflower. So this vegan fusion looks like an amazing thing to try! As far as beer pairing with this I would opt for either the Cameron’s Lager Dan is suggesting in here or if you want to amp up the spicy try a very hop forward American Pale Ale, like Clifford’s Pinball Wizard or Rainhard Armed and Citra.

BrewScout

I mentioned in my last recipe / beer pairing that I’m awfully fond of spicy food. I also really like when cooking doesn’t take a lot of effort. This healthy, vegan recipe is super easy.

I’ve been playing around with Buffalo Cauliflower Wings since last summer – pretty happy with where I’ve got it now.

You could simplify this further by choosing just one type of flour, but I find the combination of buckwheat and whole wheat makes the batter just gluey enough, without gumming up inside the cauliflower’s little pockets.

I downed this batch with a bottle (or two) of Cameron’s Lager (5.0%); a tasty, refreshing German Pilsner that washes away the heat from the Buffalo Sauce, so each bite has all the flavour of the one before.

TIME NEEDED

About 25 minutes, start to finish

INGREDIENTS

Stage 1

1/4 cup buckwheat flour

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 cup water

Stage 2

1 head of cauliflower

Stage…

View original post 186 more words

A Great Food Pairing for a Flight of Beer

Beer Flight at Pelican Brewing in Oregon

Beer Flight at Pelican Brewing Company in Oregon

Ever been to a brew pub with just too many great beers to choose from?  Places like that can be a little overwhelming, but it really is a great way to get a little variety and try something new.  In many of these types of places you can usually order a flight, which are about 4 ounces each and can be 4 to 8 different samples.  It’s great because you can sample everything you want and still be able to comfortably walk out of the place when you are done.

The only downside to ordering a flight is how they can sometimes be poured.  Many places don’t pour each glass with enough head on it to truly appreciate how the beer smells and tastes.  But thankfully some places really understand the importance of head on a beer and they should be thanked when they pour it properly.

Flight at the Rogue Brew Pub in Oregon

Flight at the Rogue Brew Pub in Oregon – They know how to pour a great flight! 

The other very cool thing you can do with a flight of beer is order food and experiment with the different flavours and see how it complements or contrasts with the beer.  There are several great menu choices that will give you a number of interesting experiences, but the best one for me has been the Cobb Salad.

Traditional Cobb Salad

A Traditional Cobb Salad

A traditional Cobb Salad consists of iceberg lettuce, blue cheese, bacon, hard boiled eggs, tomatoes, avocado and chicken.  There are variations on this that can include other things such as seafood, but this is the usual combination.  It is also generally served with each of the component ingredients placed on the salad in separated sections, which makes it ideal for a taste experimentation.  Beer and salad pairings are very underrated and an interesting way to enjoy both.

With your flight you can experiment with different combinations and really understand how a great beer and food pairing works.  I still remember the first time I had an imperial stout with blue cheese, it was heavenly!

Be sure that when ordering your flight to pair with food you choose several different styles and try beers you wouldn’t normally order.  It’s only 4 ounces and if you really don’t like it, it’s only 4 ounces!  By doing this you may discover a style of beer you wouldn’t normally order and find a new favourite, especially if it works well with the food.  These sorts of beer and food pairings are a great exploration for your tastebuds and an excellent way to go outside of your comfort zone to discover new combinations.