While wine is commonly viewed as the popular choice for food pairings, over the last few years beer has entered the culinary scene and is becoming a new favorite to pair with food.
Epicurious.com states food industry professionals have learned that beer has an incredible capacity to pair with all kinds of foods – and may even be more food-friendly than wine due to its abilty to pair with a wide variety of foods. As beer & food pairing has grown, beer sommeliers, known as cicerones, have popped up in cities across the country, including our very own Chicago.
Below are some ideal food matches for a few of the most common types of beers to help you get started with beer and food pairings. Whether you’re looking for a great beer to go with your favorite dish, or want to select the best beers to pair with your menu, this guide will point you in the right direction
Wheat beer is light, easy to drink, and has very little aftertaste. This type of beer matches well with vegetarian foods, light soups and salads, sushi and citrus-flavored dishes.
Lagers are crisp, refreshing, and provide a smooth finish due to being aged longer than other beers. They complement dishes such as shellfish, light seafood, sushi, grilled pork and chicken, and light pasta dishes.
A type of lager, pilsners have a dry, crisp, and slightly bitter flavor. Compared to other lagers, the hop taste in pilsners is more distinct.
Pilsners are great with a variety of cheeses, including American cheese, Muenster, and Havarti, as well as salads, light seafood, salmon, and tuna.
Pale Ale & IPA
Ales are generally robust and complex, with subtleties of fruit or spice, along with a hoppy finish. They come in many varieties and pair well with fried food, spicy food, steaks, burgers, and pizza, as well as cheeses like Cheddar and Parmigiano.
Porter is an ale that is brewed using a combination of roasted malt for flavor, aroma, and color. It pairs with smoked foods, barbecued foods, meats, chili, and braised dishes.
Stout is also a roast brew like porter, but its taste isn’t as sweet and often has a dark, coffee-like character. This beer is great for pairing with roasted, barbecued, and grilled foods, as well as salty foods, oysters, and chocolate.
Fruit beer is a form of beer that’s made by adding fruit for flavoring. Fruit is often added to lambic beer to help counter the bitter flavor that frequently exists as a result of the combination of unmalted wheat and malted barley in this beer.
Fruit beer is a good match with light white meats, foods full of herbs and spices, salads with fruity dressings, and fruity desserts.
Next time you are looking to host a party, take your beer selection to the next level by providing several pairing opportunities through your menu. Share with us your favorite dish and Chicago brew pairing. Cheers!