Beverage and Food Pairings that Will Guarantee a Tasty Night
By Kacey Mya
Move over wine, there’s a new food pairings king in town!
For far too long, wines have dominated the conversation about beverage and food pairings. Whether you were discussing light fish dishes, savory red meats or sweet desserts, wine was the beverage of choice.
Now, thanks to a renaissance in craft brewing, beer has leapt to the culinary foreground. Boasting a bevy of styles and flavor profiles, beer offers a seemingly endless variety of pairing combinations for food lovers to try.
Want to guarantee a delicious night of eating without spending a decade plumbing the depths of every combination available? Try these five-winning beer and food pairings:
1. Sushi and Pilsners
Sushi presents a complex mix of flavors that can make pairing a bit of a minefield. You want something that cuts through the fattiness of the fish, but doesn’t overpower the umami. You want to enjoy your salty soy sauce and spicy wasabi, yet still feel refreshed every time you take a sip.
Pilsner’s provide a balance of bitter, hoppy flavors that are perfect for cutting through fat without drowning out other flavors. From the excellent recommendations on Serious Eat’s list of sushi pairings, pilsners are probably the easiest to find on short notice, making the combination a great ace to have up your sleeve when a sushi craving strikes.
2. Fire-Breathing Fare and IPA’s
Most people look for a beer that will help temper the flames from spicy dishes — think malty ales — but for those that love face-melting heat or are looking for a way to challenge your spice stamina, try matching those spicy dishes with an IPA instead.
Unlike malts, which counteract heat, hops are known for fanning the flames. So, if you want a beer that will enhance, not dull, the spice in your food, IPA’s are what you’re looking for.
For a dinner table science experiment, try pairing your spicy food with an IPA with a high alcohol content, like Stone Brewing’s Ruination Double IPA, which is 8.5% by volume. Beers with higher alcohol content help cut down on spice, so test which comes through first: fanning of the flames through hops or cutting of the spice through alcohol content.
3. Salty Snacks and Rich Porters
If there’s one winning taste combo that needs no professional proclamations to convince the masses, it’s the classic blend of salty and sweet.
Admit it: you dip your fries in your Frosty, your mouth waters for a pretzel cone topped with decadent dark chocolate, and you can’t take a trip to the beach without picking up some of the local salted caramel.
That’s why, if you’re looking for a delicious night in — or, hey, a great night of snacking on the town — you want to go for simple salty favorites and rich porters. The salt from a great batch of pretzels or a perfectly seasoned tub of popcorn (easy on the butter) will really bring out the sweeter tones lingering in a porter.
True, a stout will do too, but give a little love to the oft overlooked porter by picking one with caramel or chocolate tones to pair with your salty snacks.
4. Decadent Desserts and Tart Beers
Like salty and sweet, tart and rich is a tasty combination that is practically instinctual. That’s why so many sinfully chocolate desserts and creamy cheesecakes are paired with tart berries or sour citrus. The tart gives you a break from the heavy dessert, while the rich dessert keeps your lips from forming a permanent pucker.
Looking for a great end to a meal? Or maybe an in-and-of-itself treat? Look for an insanely decadent dessert that you can pair with a sour beer. For those unfamiliar with this not-as-popular hoppy alternative, Paste Magazine’s top 10 list can point you in the direction of an excellent sampling of American brews, all rich in tart, fruit flavors.
5. Comfort Food and Comfort Beer
Crispy fries, juicy burgers, pizza, wings, delectable and fresh lobster mac and cheese; whatever your greasy comfort staple is, chances are it will go well with your favorite comfort beer. Not your favorite comfort lager. Not your favorite comfort stout. Your favorite beer, full stop.
So many experts and lists — including this one — set out to tell you why you should or shouldn’t enjoy your beer and food. That may be helpful if you’re looking to expand your culinary knowledge or experiment with new flavors. Unfortunately, those how to’s and should do’s can also come across as a bit judgey, like there’s something wrong with you if your personal tastes don’t align with their culinary edicts.
Want to guarantee a tasty night? Grab your favorite beer and favorite meal and enjoy it just because it’s your favorite. Forget flavor profiles. Forget complementing or contrasting your choices. By virtue of both items being your favorite, it’ll be a slam dunk, even if they don’t “go” together.
And hey, who knows, your go-with-the-gut favorite beer and food pairings might end up headlining these lists as an avant-garde culinary discovery.
Kacey is a lifestyle blogger for The Drifter Collective, an eclectic lifestyle blog that expresses various forms of style through the influence of culture and the world around us. Kacey graduated with a degree in Communications while working for a lifestyle magazine. She has been able to fully embrace herself with the knowledge of nature, the power of exploring other locations and cultures, all while portraying her love for the world around her through her visually pleasing, culturally embracing and inspiring posts.