Food & Beer Pairings

For centuries, beer and food have been enjoyed together as part of the good life. The grain-based nature of beer makes it a food in itself, and the wide range of flavors, aromas and textures make it a perfect match for nearly any kind of food, from a handmade sausage to the most luxurious gourmet dish. Choosing beers and foods that enhance one another means paying attention to the qualities of both. Harmony and balance play an important role into paring the two together.

Balancing flavor intensities

  • Causes of intensity in Beer
  • Causes of intensity in food
  • How they work together

When pairing it is best adjusting to proteins, cooking methods, spices and even flavors in the beer. Understanding of the 3 C's is foundational to Food & Beer Pairing Knowledge & Skill. The ultimate pairing goal in complementary and contrasting flavor profiles is to find harmony and balance between complements and contrasts that are delicious and memorable.

3-C's of Beer and Food Pairing:  Cut, Complement, Contrast

  • Cut – Palate-cleansing provided by Alcohol, Bitterness and Carbonation "ABC" in beer. This step must be understood before explaining the beauty and importance of complementary and contrasting flavor profiles.
  • Complement – Similar texture, temperature, aroma and flavor profiles that allow one another to taste better due to their similarities. Complements can bring out the flavor of similar tastes in the food / beer. In some cases a too close complement can reduce the taste if the complement is the exact same flavor. In this case adding a needed complement to each other helps to compliment the beer and food. For example: adding citrus will complement salad or seafood.
  • Contrast – Opposite texture, temperature, aroma and flavor profiles that allow each other to taste more rewarding because they are opposites.

How to Taste Beer:  A A T M F

  • Appearance – What does the beer look like; hold it up to the light. Natural light is the best. Notice the color of the beer and foam, foam retention, clarity, carbonation and the fullness of the beer
  • Aroma – What does the beer smell like? Note hop, malt, yeast and water in order of their relevance to the style of beer. Presence of foam allows the proper releases volatiles- both desired and non-desired. Take 3 short sniffs and on the 3rd take a drink of beer
  • Taste – What does the beer taste like; heavily influenced by aroma Take a big swallow and move the liquid all around the mouth and take a few breaths while you have the beer in your mouth to activate your retro nasal perception of the beer's flavor. After swallowing, exhale through nose.
  • Mouth Feel – How does the beer feel in the mouth; light, medium, full-bodied; also referred to as body of the beer, pay attention to astringency as well as the overall feeling of the carbonation
  • Finish – Swallow the beer, exhale through nose and notice the presence (or absence) of any aftertaste, usually bitterness, but also this is the time to share your overall view of the quality of the beer as well
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