Fancy some chocolate truffles? How about a little stout with that?
Just as good wine can make a meal even better, beer can bring out flavors in food, making it a great addition to everything from steak to seafood to salad. The Brewers Association, a US trade group of more than 5,400 brewers, suppliers and retailers, recommends that beer enthusiasts take a three-pronged approach to matching beer and food. It should be noted that the BA does not view this approach as a 1-2-3 process, which means beer lovers do not need to go through the steps to hone their pairing skills.
1. Match strength with strength. The BA recommends pairing strongly flavored foods with assertive beers and delicate foods with delicate beers. For example, a relatively low alcohol witbier should pair well with light seafood like steamed mussels. Beer lovers who enjoy strong barley wines, which typically contain 10% alcohol by volume (ABV) or more, should find that a strong cheese or dessert pairs well with this irresistible style.
2. Find harmonies. The BA notes that beer-food combinations generally resonate more effectively when they share a common flavor or aroma element. The BA emphasizes how the deep, toasty flavors of an Imperial Stout often pair well with chocolate truffles.
3. Take into account sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat (spice) and richness. The BA recommends that beer lovers seek to take advantage of the specific and predictable ways in which certain qualities of food and beer interact with each other. For example, the malty sweetness can cool the heat, making a hoppy beer with a lot of malt a good choice to accompany spicy dishes.
Pairing the right beer with food can make any night on the town even better.
Consider these pairing recommendations, courtesy of the Brewers Association.
Witbier: Lighter seafood dishes like steamed mussels
Blond beer : Light food, including chicken, salads, and salmon
Indian Pale Ale: Strong spicy food and bold, sweet desserts like carrot cake
Double / Imperial IPA: Smoked beef brisket, grilled lamb and fried southern chicken steak
Amber / red beer: Chicken, seafood, burgers and spicy cuisine
Carry: Barbecue, sausages, roast meat and blackened fish
Sweet or oatmeal stout: Rich and spicy food including grilled beef and Sichuan cuisine
Classic Pilsner: Light foods like chicken, salads, and salmon
American wheat beer: Very light food including salads, sushi, and vegetable dishes
Double abbey: Barbecue, meat stews and a thick, hearty steak.