Forget wine, it’s time to match your food with beerMon 07 2017 | admin
Food and wine is an obvious pairing. For centuries, diners have been advised by experts on which wine best complements a dish, whether it’s a sweet white with soft cheese or a bold red with red meat.
But what about beer? It has long been thought of as a less complex drink, something to enjoy ice-cold on a hot summer’s day, flat and warm in a plastic cup at festivals and sporting events or by a cosy fire at a country pub on a cold evening. For many it always boiled down to a choice between a bitter ale or a light, bubbly lager.
The craft beer movement has begun to chip away at those old stereotypes. A wide variety of beer is now consumed on a regular basis, ranging from light pilsners, pale ales and session IPAs, hoppy IPAs and American pale ales to strong, malty porters.
Spurred on by American pioneers, who started experimenting with ancient techniques in the 1960s (according to Ciaran Giblin, head brewer at London’s Meantime, craft beer is simply “modern interpretations of traditional European beer”), Britain is now part of a global trend. People want quality beer, and hundreds of breweries across the land are giving it to them.
Associating beer with food, however, is still in its infancy. While some American restaurants have introduced beer sommeliers, the trend is yet to fully take hold in Britain. “It’s about education”, says Giblin, “people are starting to realise that actually it can work well with food. You might not want a whole pint, it might be a smaller glass of beer, and it starts to really enhance it.”
Knowing what beer and food to combine can be tricky at the beginning. For Giblin, there are two main rules: complementing and contrasting. “You might want to really accentuate the flavours in the food. For a chocolate fondue pudding you want to bring the flavours of the chocolate out with a chocolate porter.
“Or you do the other way, which is a contrast to the food you’re trying. For example, with fish and chips, you’ve got the fattiness coming through from the batter, so you might have a hoppier beer, an American pale ale or an IPA, which will cut through the fat and clean the flavours up.”
The opportunities for beer and food matching are limitless. Whereas wine has to be made from one key ingredient, grapes, two if you include the barrel, there is a lot of room for experimenting with beer. “You can use different types of malts, different hops, and you can add all sorts of things, like heather or spices. The world’s your oyster. You can even put oysters in if you want.”
With summer still very much in full swing, barbecues are the perfect time to test some beer and food pairings. Here are some top tips from Giblin:
Suggested beer: Meantime London Pale Ale
“It depends what kind of burger you’re going for. You’ve got gherkins, the meat, ketchup, for this type I’d go for Meantime’s London Pale Ale or a red ale. Something with a nice bitterness to it, but not too intense. It should be able to bring the fattiness of the meat through, to enhance the flavours and the saltiness. If you’re going for a more intense flavour, with stronger sauces, you might want a stronger beer.”
Suggested beer: Meantime India Pale Ale or a session IPA
“If you’ve got spicy sausages, you probably want a maltier beer. Avoid the IPAs as the spice in the sausage will increase its intensity. For a more traditional sausage, something like an IPA would work well as it cuts through the fat. A session IPA is generally a bit lighter at about 4.5-5%.”
Suggested beer: Meantime London Lager, Pilsner or Wheat Beer
“This is where I think pilsners come into their own. They’re very delicate beers, a little malt flavour, a little hop flavour. Our London Lager also works well with fish. It has the right level of bitterness and malt balance to complement with fish like salmon or seabass.
Shellfish go well with Weissbeer, a traditional German wheat beer. It’s cloudy but has a lot of interesting flavours from the wheat and the yeast. It’s a light beer, and that work swell with foods which are lower on the spectrum of intensity.”
Suggested beer: Meantime London Porter or London Stout
“This is where you try and build on that intensity of flavour. You’ve got a lot of richness coming through the meat, and the charcoal flavours coming off the barbecue. I’d suggest a porter or a stout. They are much richer in flavour and the roasted malt will work well with the flavours of the steak. Meantime has a very traditional London Porter which would work well.”
Suggested beer: Meantime Raspberry Wheat Beer or Chocolate Porter
“You would definitely want to complement the flavours. For something like an Eton mess, or a fruit tart, I’d go for a sweeter beer. Something like a Meantime Raspberry Wheat Beer, which would really bring out those flavours. Similarly, a chocolate dish you might pair with a chocolate porter.
You can also pair cheese and beer. A strong cheese goes perfectly with a nice IPA or a barley wine, it brings out the flavours of the cheese.”
Via The Telegraph