Modern menus, whether it’s dinner party, café, pub or restaurant, offer a huge range of delicious dishes with chefs using the best ingredients to create memorable dining experiences. Diners want to bring out the best in their food and nothing does that quite as well as beer. Consumers have also become more informed about the quality, versatility and diversity of beer thanks to the range of beers brewers are producing, and also campaigns such as ours where beer and food matching is core to our messaging and output
What makes beer such a good match for food?
The vast array of flavours found in beer, that includes everything from citrus and herbal notes to dark chocolate and sour cherries, ensure there’s no food that’s out of bounds. Beer also has the added benefit of its carbonation which does a great job of refreshing the mouth after each bite. Carbonation is still present in cask ale but it’s more subdued.
What are the main principles of food and beer matching?
A good basic principle is pair the intensity of the beer to the intensity of the food. So light beers such as wheat beer with white fish, and dark beers like a stout with a beef stew. We also use the Three C’s pairing principle – cut, complement and contrast. Cut: Beers that cut through the flavour or body of the food through their carbonation or their bitterness. The carbonation also cleanses the palate. Complement: Beers with flavours that complement similar flavours of the food, delivering a perfect match. Contrast: Beers with flavours that offer a complete contrast to the food, such as sweet contrasting with saltiness.
What would you say to somebody who likes beer but who is reluctant to give up their bottle of wine with a meal?
Beer deserves its place at the dining table, certainly as much as wine. The diversity of flavour mentioned above mean it’s more than a match for its grape counterpart, but beers carbonation is arguably what gives it an edge over wine. No other drink can cleanse the palate quite like beer does.
What are the main mistakes pubs make when it comes to beer and food matching?
It would be great to see pubs recommending beer and food matches on their menus and also through bar and waiting staff. The principles aren’t complicated and it genuinely gives people a delicious and memorable experience. So pubs aren’t making mistakes as such, but they’re perhaps not putting beer and food matching in the minds of their customers as much as they could. But we’re here to help with that.
Are there any really easy combinations of beer and food?
Absolutely. Beer and cheese is a match made in heaven with everything from IPAs with Cheddar to Stilton with stout. We’ve created a beer and cheese guide which outlines how to put the two together and the best pairings to try. Sausage rolls and pork pies will find a firm friend in bitters and pale ales, while those pub staples crisps and peanuts are partnered perfectly with golden ales.
What combinations of beers and food are most popular?
That’s probably more a matter of personal taste but there are numerous pairings that are consistent crowd pleasers. At our events a kriek or fruit beer paired with a chocolate dessert is always hugely popular. Then there’s roast chicken and the caramel notes of a bitter, blonde and golden ales and their citrus notes with fish and chips, porters and stouts with beef stew, IPA with a Ploughman’s… the list goes on.
what are the top three favourite beer and food matches?
It’s difficult to pick a favourite as it depends on season and occasion, but a wonderful lunch or dinner might be a starter of smoked salmon terrine beautifully complemented by the citrus, sweet notes of a wheat beer. For main you can’t go wrong with roast beef or steak pie and the bittersweet character of an English pale ale. And there are few better ways to end a meal than with some apple crumble and a small glass of porter or stout.