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

3 thoughts on “Beer and Food Pairings 101

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s