Matching Beer and Food

Beer Sommelier Jane Peyton of Dea Latis shares some matchy-matchy wisdom.

While many drinkers enjoy a glass or two of beer in the pub, when it comes to choosing what to drink with a meal, most people reach for the wine list – thereby overlooking some fantastic food and drink matches. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to matching beer with food, but a few basic principles to guide you in the right direction:

Complement
Flavours in the beer meld with the flavours in the food to create a perfect balance. Delicate dishes, such as grilled chicken, work best with delicately flavoured beers, like lagers and wheat beers, and stronger flavoured foods such as steaks call for strong bitters and traditional ales.

Cut
Beer, unlike most wine, is carbonated and this, combined with the zestiness of the hops, ‘cuts’ through oily or fatty foods. It means beer is a perfect partner to foods such as cheese, oily fishes (like smoked salmon,) lamb, and fried foods, which all leave a coating of fat on the tongue. Beer cuts through and cleanses the palate.

Contrast
Putting very different flavours together creates some of the most successful pairings. Good examples of contrasts are tart fruit beers with chocolate puddings and pate, or gamey meats like venison contrasting with the espresso-like flavours in stouts and porters.

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