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How to Pair Food and Beer

Exploring Beer Flavors and Aromas

  1. 1Explore crisp beers. These light, clean, and refreshing beers are light to medium in body. Delicate fruit styles, like wheat or cream ales, aren’t especially hoppy or malty and often have a hint of fruit flavor. Malt-accented styles like amber lager or Oktoberfest have a bready or biscuit flavor. Styles that exude a brisk hoppiness like pilsners, have a drier finish with floral or spicy aromas.[1]
  2. 2Try a hoppy brew. With aromas and bitterness derived from hops, these beers are intense in flavor and are medium to full in body. Earthy and dry styles like English Pale Ale or Belgian Indian Pale Ale have light malt profiles and grassy or woody hop flavors. Styles like American Amber Ale or California Common have a malty backbone, while American Pale Ale and American Fresh Hop Ale are bolder with tropical fruit and citrus flavor notes.[2]
  3. 3Sample a malt-driven beer. With notes of coffee, caramel, and nuts, these styles are light to full in body. Styles like Doppelbock and English Brown Ale have a mild, yet crisp quality with bready and biscuit malt flavors. Extra Strong Bitter and Scotch are also have a solid malty backbone, but also have fruity aromas.[3]
  4. 4Sample a beer with roasted flavors. These medium-light to full bodied styles feature coffee and cocoa flavors. Soft and silky styles like Oatmeal Stout and Imperial Brown Ale are dark and rich in malty flavor, but not overly intense. Dark and dry styles like Black IPA and American Brown Ale feature notes of chocolate and espresso as well as fruit flavors like cherries and plums.[4]
  5. 5Consider a beer that incorporates smoked malts. These medium-light to full bodied beers feature malts that have been smoked, often over wood fired. Styles with subdued smolder include Smoked Porter and Steinbrau and balance toasty malt flavors against spicy or smoked notes. Spicy and meaty styles exude heavily-smoked flavors that overlay more subtle aromas like bananas, raisin, or nuts.[5]
  6. 6Try a fruit and spice beer. Bright styles like Belgian Blond Ale or Hefeweizen have bright fruit qualities like peach, lemon, or pear as spice profiles that include clove, coriander, and vanilla. Dark styles like Dubbel or Weizenbock have darker fruit qualities than their brighter counterparts, with malt flavors reflective of chocolate or caramel.[6]
  7. 7Sample a sour beer. These tart beers have rustic notes. Delicate styles like Gose and Faro have mild acidity and are light in body with soft tart and fruity flavors. Fruity and vinous styles like Wild Ale and Traditional Fruit Lambic couple a pronounced acidity with fruity aromas. Earthy styles like Saison and Gueuze Lambic are typically quite sour and even funky in flavor, with earthy notes.[7]

Method2Pairing Beer and Foods That Complement Each Other

  1. 1Find harmonies between beer and food. Pairing food with a beer that shares some of its flavor or aroma is a great place to start. Seek out beers and foods with similar elements of aroma and flavor profiles.[8]
  2. 2Pair brown ale with foods that have nutty, toasted flavor profiles. Foods such as aged Gouda, walnut cake, roasted pork, smoked sausage and cashew chicken will complement the malty flavor of a brown ale.[9]
  3. 3Try pairing a stout with oysters. The coffee and chocolate flavors of a stout highlight silky, salty foods such as oysters on the half shell. A stout also pairs well with braised or caramelized meats and sauces.[10]