While pairing wine with food is second nature, introducing guests to craft beer’s unique flavor combinations can enhance their dining experience.
From simple dishes like fried Brussels sprouts with West Coast IPA to a more decadent chocolate zucchini cake with fruity lambic, learn how to pair foods and beverages with beer that are sure to impress your customers. Check craft beer online.
1. Smoked Meats
There are a few key principles to keep in mind when pairing craft beer with food. One of the most important is to consider the intensity of both the beer and the dish. Lighter beers like lagers pair well with delicate dishes, allowing the flavors to shine without overpowering the palate. On the other hand, robust beers such as stouts can stand up to heartier dishes, adding depth and complexity to the meal.
Malty beers such as amber ales can complement dishes with roasted flavors, harmonizing with the caramelization of the meat. Meanwhile, hoppy beers like IPAs can provide a vibrant contrast to spicy or heavily seasoned foods by balancing the heat and enhancing the flavor profile.
Savvy operators can capitalize on this trend by offering paired beer menu items that showcase unique combinations of craft beers and culinary favorites. From BBQ short ribs to mint watermelon salad, there are endless opportunities for creative beer and food pairings that can elevate your dining experience.
When foods with gills, fins and tentacles are on the menu, most people default to wine, but craft beer can also complement these dishes beautifully. Unlike wine, which can be heavy and overpowering with fish, beer is lighter in texture.
This makes it a great choice to pair with delicate seafood dishes, including sushi and sashimi, as well as other light fare like fish tacos and seafood salads. For example, a crisp, citrusy American lager such as Victory Brewing Company’s Prima Pils pairs perfectly with Chef Coopey’s Seared Halibut Tostadas with Melon Salsa.
If you are serving a dish that is richer in flavor, try pairing it with a darker beer such as a stout or porter. These beers will help balance the flavors of any dish, from dark fried cod to creamy lobster bisque. Pairing your seafood with the right drink can elevate the dining experience, so make sure your customers are aware of this popular beverage choice.
Craft beer has more room to play with flavors than wine, thanks to the addition of barley (which adds sweetness), hops (which provide bitterness), and yeast. This makes it a great complement to many types of cuisines, including Asian, Mexican, and spicy foods. Plus, there’s a huge variety of beer styles from trendy sour brews to citrus-flavoured shandy and radler to classics like pilsner, pale ale and IPA.
Pairing food with craft beer is all about leveraging the flavor qualities of both to enhance one another, using a technique called “like with like.” For instance, pairing an IPA with a pizza topped with sausage and mushroom will help bring out the earthy flavors in both.
Other key pairing principles include matching intensity—lighter dishes go well with lighter beers, while bolder dishes work best with assertive beers. And don’t forget about dessert: fresh fruit and light, creamy desserts pair well with brighter beers such as lager and witbier, while cooked and stewed fruits can complement the roasted and caramel flavours in an imperial stout or porter.
With the emergence of craft beer, pairings with dessert is becoming a culinary trend. While wine has always been served with dessert, the lighter flavor of beer makes it more of a natural fit. Pairings can either complement or contrast the flavors of each dish and are a great way to show off the versatility of beer.
A good rule of thumb is that sweeter foods work best with darker beers. Lighter beers with citrus undertones match well with lemon desserts, while wheat beers can be paired with fruity desserts. Darker beers, like stouts or porters, can stand up to chocolatey desserts, while lambics can be used with cheese-based dishes or to top a creamy cheesecake.
The key is to experiment and find the right combination of food and beer that elevates the dining experience. A few simple menu changes can make a big difference in how your customers experience craft beer.