With so many different styles of beer out there, each with its own array of flavors, it takes time to try them all and figure out what style or styles suits you. On top of that, comes pairing the beer with foods. There are all sorts of beer traits to consider when finding a favorite and when pairing it with food, such as hoppiness, bitterness, maltiness, fruitiness, sourness, richness, and so much more.
When food comes into play, there are four guidelines or rules to keep in mind, and they are contrast, complement, cleanse, and avoid overpowering flavors.
Contrast: This method is tricky and may take a few tries, but the objective is to pick either a beer or dish with one strong dominant flavor, and pair it with a contrasting distinct taste, that wont overpower or be overpowered. One of the most used examples of this is pairing oysters with Stout. The briny flavors in Oysters can stand up to the rich chocolatey flavors in Stouts.
Complement: When done right, this is one way to make the most delectable food and beer pairing. Simply put, match your flavors. If you have a rich, heavy beer like a Stout or Porter, pick a food that is rich in flavor also. If you’re enjoying a light salad or fish, lean towards a lighter beer such as a wheat beer or pale ale.
Cleanse: Beer can sometimes be used as a palate cleanser. This rule is ideal when pairing your beer with dishes that have strong or overpowering flavors, like spicy or fatty foods. A cool and refreshing light beer can help cut down the heat of a spicy meal. Likewise, this pairing works in the opposite direction, where you can use fatty foods to lessen the bitterness of an IPA.
Avoid Overpowering Flavors: It’s important to keep the levels of flavor in your food and your beer in mind. Sometimes rich and powerful flavors of a dark beer can overpower certain foods. Similarly, strong flavors in a meal can cover light nuanced flavors in a beer.
Check out the chart below for details on seven popular beer styles, and what food pairs well with each!
Experiment with a variety of beer styles to pair with food by joining our Beer of the Month Club. Cheers!