An Appetite for Beer
Imagine there is no wine, it isn’t hard to do. Let’s imagine there’s only beer, lots of excellent, flavorful, distinctive, hand made beer and your appetite is whetted. It’s a picnic where lovely hand maidens arrive with overflowing plates of gastronomic delights. Am I tapping into one of your favorite dreams? Now try to concentrate on the food and drink.
Can you taste Stout and Cornish pasties, or German Dunkel with a rich savory beef stew or roast chicken and a cool mellow pilsner? Sounds good to me; isn’t beer great?
If you’re inspired to partake in this kind of beertopian feast, I applaud you! Let the feasting begin! There are no rules, except to have fun! Here are a few beer/food suggestions for your cooks to mull over:
As with any meal, it’s harmonious to pair food and beer together that are alike, such as mild flavored light dishes with mild, light beers such as pale ales or mild lagers and more robust flavors with more robust beers, such as a porter or stout with steak, lamb or game. Some of the newer, experimental beers will be a fun challenge to try, since we are all in uncharted waters , so, please let me know what you find that works; I enjoy getting feedback.
Beer is made up of varying types and amounts of hops, yeast, water and fermentable sugars (usually malted barley). Identifying these qualities in your beer will help: very simply, hops tend to be astringent and a little bitter, malt has a mellow, sweet quality and adds body and different yeasts add bready or earthy flavors.
Hefeweizen is great with a wedge of lemon and would go well with some fresh shellfish like crab, lobster or mussels, as well as a Belgian style wheat or a light lager or pilsner.
Try a clean mellow golden ale or a light lager with some other light dishes such as salad or plain roasted chicken. For a spicy chicken or BBQ try a hopped ale. If your salad includes fruit try experimenting with one of the fruit flavored ales or wheat beers.
Richer flavors can stand up to heartier beers. Try Brown ales, porter or stout with beef, most dark lagers with savory rich dishes like chicken in red wine or mushroom sauce. For meats seasoned with herbs, like lamb try a hopped dark ale or a bitter ale.
Amber ales tend to complement pizza or tomato based dishes with pasta.
Barbecue which has both intense sweet, tangy and smoky flavors can go well with mellow, malty, Brown Ales, Ambers or with some slightly hopped Pale Ales.
Spicy hot meals like Cajun, curries or Mexican with chili peppers cry out for beer- but which type? Try a cool light Pilsner, light Wheat beer, or a malty brown beer. For a switch, give a heavy Stout a try, it has big enough flavors to be able to take on those spices and heat. Beware of high alcohol beers with spicy foods, they tend to amplify the heat and it’s unbelievably awful! Remember this and reserve this combo for someone you dislike.
If you want to go there, I suspect that any sweeter or fruity style beers such as Lambics will taste okay with fruit desserts. It would be interesting to try chocolate desserts with a dark beer that has those chocolate, coffee, toasted flavors, like a stout.
An imagination is a terrible thing to waste.
© text Black Sheep Wine and Beer Shop 2012
Photo/Illustration Credits: personal photos of the author, Wikimedia Commons, Bigfoto.com, Public Domain, MorgueFile.com., PDPhoto.org
Jennifer Laskey VerPlanck