PAIRINGS: HOW BEER CUTS THROUGH FOOD
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When it comes to beer and food pairing, although there are so many options the key to remember is that beer is just so versatile. Provided one doesn’t utterly dominate the other – Tokyo* with a garden salad, say? – the combinations are fascinating to explore. And that’s the reason behind our mini-series of beer and food guides, which reaches its conclusion today with this final chapter.
We have looked at how the two things can Complement each other, and also how differing flavours provide a Counter. Now, we take that second concept to a logical conclusion for the last of the three C’s – the swift and decisive world of the Cut. Where one of the elements (beer or food) is strong, full-on or rich, the other is in total contrast. It nullifies and replaces with something that leaves you with a sensation greater than the sum of its parts.
Think of it as the ultimate Counter; the binary opposite. These combinations are often intense and extreme – but then, that’s exactly the way we like it…
If you have any of the beers below in your cellar, head to your nearest supermarket (or independent grocer) and sharpen those knives!
Headliner – This. Is. Lager.
Beginning with a classic, to introduce the concept; if you wouldn’t ordinarily associate lager with food pairing (aside from maybe crisps) then you’re missing out. Take our 21st Century pilsner – it packs a great deal of bitterness, and so is a perfect foil for that BBQ staple; sausages. The rich fat of the meat is totally cut by the bitterness and palate-cleansing properties of This. Is. Lager., meaning each and every bite comes at you anew. And mustard on top? The malt bill keeps this in balance.
Alternate pairings – lightly smoked salmon, chorizo, anything with parmesan cheese.
Amplified – Hardcore IPA
Moving up the spectrum of intensity we have our thunderous imperial IPA. Hardcore is a beer for those who love a hop bomb – but it’s also a beer for those that love carrot cake. No, really. Strong IPA and this specific item of baked goods is a definitive pairing – the sweet, juicily biting beer completely cleans out the cream cheese icing and sweet carrot-embedded body of the cake. For the richness of the latter, think only of the hops of the former.
Alternate pairings – glazed ribs, cheese toasties, stilton.
Amplified – Libertine
Our black ale switches from spiced blackcurrant and caramel to bitter Simcoe hops – so to truly pair this with something to make the palate sit up even more, try smoked game. The extra addition of this dry woodsy char simultaneously lifts the dark roasted malts of the beer whilst also yielding an offering to the hops to slice through. It’s a fascinating result – and one that really proves complex beer and food can go together beautifully.
Alternate pairings – halloumi burger, pork belly, tiramisu.
Small Batch – Dog D
Big beers and desserts are commonly found together; they both tend to arrive at the end of the meal as they will finish you off with overindulgence. They complement each other beautifully – yet can also work in the other direction. Take Dog D and that continental marvel, Black Forest Gateaux. The alcohol from the beer cuts through the cream whilst its rich roastiness offers the perfect contrast to the sharp cherries.
Alternate pairings – meatloaf, brownies, Camembert.
That’s it! But although our three-part journey into beer and food matching might have come to an end – every time you reach for the bottle opener or visit a beer-toting restaurant, you can discover new things. Enjoy the ride – and if you have discovered a pairing that really shines, then let us know in the comments section below!