Craft Beer and Food Pairing Tips
Today, pairing food and beer has gone way beyond the typical burger, fries, and cold draft pilsner. While we still appreciate a great cheeseburger and beer at our favorite pub or backyard bar-b-cue, pairing craft beers with the perfect meal has us just as excited as a sommelier at a fancy French bistro. Believe it or not, microbrews can be as complex as an Old World Bordeaux or a Chardonnay. When the perfect brew is partnered with the perfect meal, they will arouse flavors in both the food and beverage, so that your palate will experience pure bliss.
According to CraftBeer.com here are some craft beer and food pairing tips.
There are four basic flavor elements you can rely on to help make the flavors of the food and the beer shine. Consider them as guides to teach you how to pair certain food flavors together.
Sweet calms sweet.
This will allow other flavors rise to the surface, and is your basic food partners like peas and carrots or milk and cookies. Consider a stout with vanilla ice-cream.
Acidic calms salt.
Here the acid cuts through the salt and will balance the flavors to create a “clean” palate. Contemplate foods like chips and salsa, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, or pickles and a corned beef sandwich.
Bitter calms sweet.
Pairing these flavors will allow them to balance out; allowing other flavors to rise to the top. For example, a sweet carrot cake with a strong bitter cup of coffee will help to balance the sweetness of the frosting.
Umami compliments umami.
Umami is the absence of the typical flavors of salty, sour, bitter, or sweet and is described as savory. Umami will help to enhance other flavors, making them richer: mushrooms in a creamy pasta sauce or parmesan cheese on spaghetti with meatballs.
Flavor grouping will help to create a harmony of flavors. As a general rule, look for commonalities within flavors to create complimentary pairings. Some of these flavors and brew pairings may surprise you.
- Rosemary, pine or spruce: American Pale Ale and roasted chicken, with a rosemary infused light cream sauce.
- Brown sugar, butter, caramel, caramel, vanilla, coffee: English-style barley with a Blondie brownie topped in caramel sauce.
- Mint, dill, endive, coriander, lemongrass, oregano: Belgian-style Saison with a white fish with lemon and dill sauce.
- Cinnamon, cumin, pepper, cardamom, ginger and clove: Ginger spiced porter with Moroccan inspired beef kabobs and saffron basmati rice.
- Date, fig, and raisin: Belgian-style ale with dates stuffed with goat cheese, wrapped in bacon.
- Pineapple or tangerines: American-style IPA with a spicy orange chicken stir-fry.
- Chocolate: A milk stout with a flour-less chocolate cake.
These flavor pairings are just a few examples of how to match up different foods and craft beers. The one rule you always want to be sure to follow: try to match strength with strength. Avoid having either the craft beer or the food outweigh the other. The combinations are endless, and you can be as simple or complicated as your mood dictates.
Lastly, just like with wine and food, these are just guidelines. Drink what you like, with what food you like.
We have included a recipe and beer pairing below perfect for a summer get together. Stop into Festival Wine and Spirits. We have a great selection of unusual beer and exclusive releases. Pick up a craft beer to pair with your favorite meal.
Samuel Adams Summer Ale Lobster Roll
- 1 1/2 pounds cooked lobster meat (three or four 1- to 1 1/2 pound lobsters)
- 3/4 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup Samuel Adams Summer Ale Glaze or Sauce
- Juice of 1 grapefruit
- 2 teaspoons grated grapefruit zest
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 hot dog rolls, split and toasted
Yield: Serves 4
- Cut the lobster meat into meaty chunks. It should be recognizable as good-sized chunks of lobster. You will have 4 to 6 cups lobster.
- Transfer the meat to a mixing bowl and add the mayonnaise, glaze, grapefruit juice and zest. Stir gently, taking care not to break up the lobster meat any further. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve the lobster salad on the toasted rolls.
Samuel Adams Summer Ale Glaze
- 12 ounces (1 ½ cups) Samuel Adams Summer Ale
- One 332-gram bottle ketchup (10 or 11 ounces) ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed
Yield: Makes about 2 cups
- In a glass, ceramic or another nonreactive mixing bowl, whisk together the ale, ketchup, lemon juice, pepper, ginger, and fennel seed. Serve immediately or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
If you have any questions or are looking for suggestions for beer and food pairings, come into Festival Wine and Spirits in Annapolis. Our knowledgeable staff is here to help. Also, make sure you check out our weekly specials!