Beer Break Vol. 1, No. 12
Good pairings: Start with the beer
Nov. 22, 2000
Last week we provided some basic tips on pairing food and beer. This week
we'll get more specific about pairings. However, let's keep our priorities in
order. Instead of picking a dish and then the appropriate beer, we'll start
with the beer and go from there:
Golden or blonde ale, American wheat ale, lightly hopped lagers: Since these
beers lack both maltiness and hoppiness, they work best as thirst-quenchers.
Try them with super-hot food, such as blackened redfish. Once your tongue has
been assaulted with hot spices, it will no longer be able to appreciate an
intricately flavored beer, anyway.
Weissbier, dunkelweiss: You want to be able to enjoy the flavors of the
yeast, so stick with delicate foods, such as soup or pasta or light cheeses.
These beers also work well with lightly flavored vegetarian dishes, such as
grilled vegetables, or light chicken dishes.
Amber ale: A good all-around beer for any food that isn't sweet -- something
sweet will detract from the maltiness in the beer. It complements sandwiches,
hearty soups and pizzas. Also a good thirst-quencher for barbecue or Mexican
Bitter, pale ale, India pale ale, German/Bohemian pilsners: Although hops can
kill your tastebuds when paired with many foods, they do make for some
particularly good matches -- fried seafood, for example, because hoppiness
cuts through grease, or anything with vinegar as a main ingredient. They also
complement smoked, boiled, steamed or broiled seafood. And they can enhance
the spiciness of highly spiced cuisine. The fruitier pale ales also will
complement lamb, beef and game, or try them with liver pate.
English or American brown ale: Hamburgers and sausages are hearty enough for
either kind of ale. The English brown may match nicely with smoked fish,
while game dishes can stand up to the hoppiness of the American brown.
Porter, dry or oatmeal stout: Think hearty foods -- meat dishes with gravy,
barbecue, shepherd's pie, stew. Oysters are also ideal. Both these beers and
brown ales will stand up to stronger cheeses such as sharp cheddar and blue.
Cream or sweet stout, imperial stout: These are made for chocolate, and
imperial stout pairs especially well with dark chocolate. Also try
chocolate-and-fruit desserts, such as stout cheesecake with raspberry sauce,
or something with caramel or pecans.
Vienna lager/Oktoberfest/Maerzen, dark lager, bock: Like amber ale, these are
good all-around food beers, and they're not as filling as ales. The lagers
will cut some of the heaviness in sauce-based meat dishes -- chicken
paprikash, goulash or pork rouladen, for example -- and will stand up to
their strong flavors. The perfect beers to serve with pretzels and mustard.
Sweeter bocks, such as doppelbocks, can complement heartier, spicier
desserts, such as pumpkin pie or spice cake.
Fruit beers, lambics: Sweeter fruit beers and fruit lambics can be paired
with light fruit desserts, such as souffles or chiffon cake, but sour ones
will probably overwhelm fruit flavors. Some people like to drink lambics with
dark chocolate. Entrees that are prepared with fruit - for example,
raspberry-glazed duck breast -- can pair nicely with fruit beers. Consider
enjoying these alone at the end of the meal.
Brewed by Crannog Ales in Sorrento, B.C.
Stephen Beaumont writes:
The Partition Bitter, which may have its name changed to Beyond the Pale Ale,
impressed me the most of the three Crannog brands. A rich copper colour and
lightly fruity, leafy aroma precedes a peachy start, dryish, nutty and
slightly tannic body and a very dry, toasty finish. The progress of the
flavour from start to finish was admirable and makes the ale highly
quaffable. I was certainly left wanting more.
HARVEY'S CHRISTMAS ALE
Brewed by Harvey & Son in England
Adrian Tierney-Jones writes:
The family-run brewery in Lewes have been established since the late 18th
century and were pioneers in the current trend for seasonal beers. Their
Christmas Ale is a reddish brown colour with a malty, fruit-cake nose.
There's also a subtle hoppiness which stops this delicious ale from being too
sweet. It's rich, warming and malty on the palate at first with a hint of
bitterness in the fruit finish. A very well-balanced and well-rounded dessert
beer which would accompany fruit cake and Christmas pudding. Available in
bottle only. 8.1% abv.