We’re all well used to the idea that different wines go with different meals, so why not beers? After all, they can be just as tasty and with some dishes can even work better than wine.
As pairing beer with food explodes in popularity – and with the Great British Beer Festival on the horizon (6-10 August) – it’s time to treat your taste buds with the help of our guide to beer matching.
Know your beer
Fear of the unknown holding you back? Alongside better-known brands we’re spoilt for choice in the beer aisle with a huge selection of craft beers and foreign offerings. It can be a bit overwhelming, but don’t worry, here are the beer basics:
- Ales and lagers are the two main types of beer.
- Ale has been around since the dawn of time. It’s quicker to brew and it tends to be darker in colour and stronger in flavour.
- Lager is a newer invention (and by new we mean a couple of centuries so not exactly cutting edge). It’s brewed with different yeast to ale and in colder conditions. It takes longer to brew which usually results in a cleaner and mellower taste.
- There are loads of different lager and ale varieties, check out this handy graphic if you want to geek out. Otherwise, any decent drink will have some description of the taste on the label.
There are no set rules when picking a beer to match your meal; we’ve all got our own ideas about what tastes good. But think about the flavours in both the food and the beer and either match them up or choose combinations that do it for you.
Sip with simple suppers
Light and refreshing beers like pilsner and blonde ale are the perfect choice for chicken. Try this tender beer can chicken where the beer is also an essential cooking tool. A summery salmon dish will also do nicely.
Serve with Sunday lunch
Beer needn’t be a pre-meal pint before the main event. Choose a bitter for a classic roast chicken dinner, while brown ale works well with roast pork and beef.
Pair with party food
A bucket full of chilled lagers will always have its takers at a barbecue, but if you want to impress your guests then match your menu with some flavourful alternatives. Serve blonde ales and IPAs with burgers, while the deeper flavours of dark ales work wonders with grilled meats.
Even fancy-shmancy party food pairs well with beer. Pilsner and pickled oysters, brown ale and sushi, golden ale and crabmeat – whatever you’re cooking up there’s bound to be a beer to match. And there’s no need to swig from a can when there’s a glass for every type of beer.
Drink with dessert
Beer and pudding? Yep, that works too. Choose the right combination and you’ll experience a flavour epiphany (a beerpiphany?)
Gooey chocolate pud is a great match for a porter, especially a chocolate porter (no prizes for guessing why those flavours work). Try a stout with chocolate-drizzled profiteroles or salted caramel mousse. And if you’ve ever put a wedge of lime in your lager, then you’ll love it with a citrus dessert like this limoncello tiramisu.
Discovered some of your own delicious beer and food pairings? We’ll drink to that!