How do you choose a beer to match your dish? Learn here before London Beer Week begins
You did read that right. To celebrate the start of London Beer Week on 22 March, we’re exploring the idea of choosing a beer to match your dish, rather than choosing a wine.
Matching beer with food isn’t a particularly widespread phenomenon – though there are many reasons why it should be. For most, their understanding of matching food with alcohol starts and ends with different wines, but as far as we’re concerned, those who do not are missing out. Beer in itself is so wide-ranging, with plenty of diversity and styles available to choose from, which means that whatever you choose to eat there’s likely to be a beer on hand to match it perfectly.
Many people shy away from food and drink matching because it appears, on the face of it, to be a fairly complicated concept; but it is actually fairly simple and surrounds a few key principles. When looking to choose a beer to match your dish, you should consider either selecting a beer to complement, contrast or cut. Keep those three things in mind when you’re dining out and getting ready to look at the drinks list, and you’ll never go wrong.
Considering the refreshing nature of beer as a drink, and the variety of flavours each pint can have, it makes sense to assume that matching your food with your beer is a great way to have a different experience when dining, and to experience a wide range of new flavours very easily. Generally, beers are excellent palate cleansers and are great to match with food because they are perfect for cutting through rich and creamy flavours, or even spicy dishes.
So how do you choose a beer to match your dish?
Below, we’ve included a list of cuisine types and given some tips for matching a beer. With any type of food matching, it may be the case that you agree with everything we’ve said – or you completely disagree. Either way, these matches are always going to be based on your own personal preference, we can simply steer you in a right direction.
Beef & Game Meat
The darker meats tend to match better with darker beers – which is pretty easy to remember! This is because the darker beers and ales often have a level of sweetness in the malt and can even sometimes have nutty flavours which work with red meat perfectly. For those who aren’t lovers of a dark beer, you could consider matching your beef and game meet with a pale ale – but lighter beers are often overpowered by the flavours in these types of meat.
It’s also a good principle to remember to match a stronger meat (venison, for example) with a stronger and more intense beer to ensure that the taste and flavour doesn’t get overpowered and lost.
In contrast with the above, poultry dishes tend to have more subtle flavourings and so need to be paired with significantly lighter beer flavours. For these types of dishes, look for pale ales, largers and pilsners primarily.
Much like with poultry, a beer to be matched with a fish dish should be light so that the delicate and fresh fish flavours aren’t overpowered. Choose a lighter lager, a wheat beer or a pilsners. If you want to get really technical with your matching, you can think about the other flavours used in the dish to make a choice based on the sauces. If it’s a creamy sauce, consider a lager – if it’s a citrus based or salsa sauce you should consider a pale ale. Smoked fish, like salmon, will go wonderfully with golden or amber ales.
For those who will be sampling some Italian dishes during London Beer Week, you’re likely to want to choose a hoppy beer such as a pale ale or a pilsners, to ensure that it’s complimenting your dish choice well. This is because these types of ales are a good compliment to herbs and tomato flavourings – which are common in the Italian cuisine type and are found in many of the staple dishes.
If you’ll be looking for some spice and ordering some Indian dishes, you’re in luck – beers and lagers pair really well with these dishes because they’re so refreshing and cleansing for the palate, and they’re perfect for dealing with the spice found in a hot curry.
London Beer Week is a true celebration of beers, ales, lagers and ciders alike, set against the backdrop of the capital. It’s also fast approaching, taking over the city for its second year for the week of 22-28 Feb 2016. With the fantastic discount that you can get off food at Gourmet Society restaurants in London, you can enjoy one or two extra tipples at the bar.
Whichever dishes you select this London Beer Week, make a special effort to pair them properly with your beer to make the most of the rich flavours of both. Try and stick to some of our rules, or make some flavour combinations of your own – and let us know your results in the comments below or on our social pages.