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Last time on our three-part look at pairing beer with food, we discussed the notion of Complementary matches; how the elements of one combine and enhance similar elements in the other. This time however, we are going in another direction – literally – as we discuss how craft beer can Counter your favourite dish (or even one that you never thought about until this moment).

The many and varied components of beer – the grain bill, the hops, the yeast character, added ingredients and so-on – yield a truly enormous array of flavours, giving you the perfect opportunity to find one to work against (in a good way) the food that you are about to enjoy. As we stated before, as long as one of the pair doesn’t totally overpower the other, the balance of the pairing can lead to an amazing contrast of flavours.

So, for the second of the three Cs of food pairing, we need a beer and we need a food that offset each other. Not in a crazy way, but in a way where you get one element and then the other, and that second moment brings an unexpected smile to your lips. Think of sweet and salty popcorn. Great as individuals, but mix them together and every bite is interesting, and that Adam Sandler movie goes by all the quicker. That is the concept we are after here (only minus Adam Sandler).


Here are four BrewDog beers with the perfect contrasting dishes. Time to get the apron on!

Headliner – Punk IPA

India Pale Ale and curry, right? If you’ve ever been drawn to a bottle of Punk after knocking together a hot and spicy curry, then it’s likely down to more than just the name of the beer style. Specifically, the citrus and pine from the multitude of hops jut up against the aromatic spices in the dish; the IPA counters the heat. As both food and beer have a robust character, neither gets lost in this quintessential pairing.

Alternate pairings – seared tuna, jerk chicken, vegetable samosas.

Amplified - Dogma

The idea of countering the flavours in beer and food doesn’t just refer to diametric opposites, however. You can go in the same direction to find a contrast. That does make sense, believe us. Try our revamped wee heavy Dogma with the ultimate pub dessert, sticky toffee pudding. The sweet malt backbone counters the sugar rush of the caramel, lowering that tooth-aching saccharinity as a result, making the experience a lot less cloying than the dessert alone.

Alternate pairings – roast lamb, carbonara, French onion soup (the auld alliance).

Seasonal – Electric India

Our hop-forward saison is a complex beer; with elements of herbal spice, pepperiness, citrus and amidst a backdrop of heather honey. To get a contrast here, look for something savoury, something briney. Like sashimi. If you steer away from the fattier salmon and instead go for tuna sashimi, (or even better, mackerel), the slightly metallic ozone edge you get from fresh Japanese seafood works really well to contrast the sweeter and yet spicy multi-ingrediented saison.

Alternate pairings – falafel, pork chops, black pudding.

Small Batch – Nanny State

Finally for our contrasting pairings, we return to a ‘poles apart’ sensation – the classic that is bitter versus sweet. For the former, the hop-laced bitterness of our imperial mild Nanny State. And for the perfect foil, pair it with for something like vegetable tagine. The sweet Moroccan spices and raisins really go well against the bitter, dry flavours from the beer; the perfect example of how one set of flavours can work with another, despite being so hugely different.

Alternate pairings – seafood chowder, sausages, sweet potato curry.

On the final pairing post next time, we’ll take a look at four more BrewDog beers and the dishes to fulfil the third of the three Cs – flavours that Cut through each other. Until then, if you have any other favourite food matches that counter the beer, let us know in the comments below!

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BrewDog Rich 13.08.2015 @ 2:49pm
Chris - I know it's all subjective, but it does depend on the IPA (and, as you say, the level of 'research') ;) Personally I think the twin citrus and pine really works with the heat and the spice - but I totally agree, saison and something like Thai food is fantastic. And I've never had a stout with a beef curry so that has gone right to the top of my list. Cheers!
Chris Airplays 13.08.2015 @ 1:05pm
believe me - I've done a lot of research! - IPAs and curry are not a particularly good pairing. Doesn't mean it can't work or be enjoyable but a wheat beer or saison are far superior matches. A stout with a beef curry really works too.
Iron Mike 12.08.2015 @ 2:47pm
That has to be the first time I've ever seen black pudding mentioned in an article about beer and food matching. I trust that you are recommending Stornoway - craft black pudding.
Hop Fan 12.08.2015 @ 2:32pm
@Fletch - Better than after lunch, it means you can head out and try and find them!
Will 12.08.2015 @ 12:17pm
I usually drink lager with a curry - I know, I know - but I can see how Punk would work. To be honest, I'd just have the three cans in that picture and that would do. ;)
Neil 12.08.2015 @ 11:56am
I think if I had sticky toffee pudding and a Dogma I'd need a quiet lie down somewhere...
Fletch 12.08.2015 @ 11:48am
Do these posts deliberately go up just before lunchtime?