We here at Ordas Kitchen take pride in our palette and always strive for the best possible food experience and nothing elevates a delicious meal quite like a delectable beverage to match! The pairing of wine and food may be more of a well-known and long-standing practice in the mining industry, but American craft beer, after successfully carving out its own niche with drinkers, has also made the leap into the world of the respected gourmand. Gone are the days
when it was acceptable to pop into a friend’s dinner party with a sample pack of lite beer! Instead, show off your brew-to-food knowledge by remembering a few easy-to-understand rules that will ensure every swig of delicious beer will match perfectly with whatever dish is being served.
Being that colour is a clear and distinguishable trait among beer styles, we can break down most pairings into a general rule of thumb: The lighter tasting the food, the lighter the beer – The darker the food, the darker the beer. The terms “light” and “dark” are subjective when talking about specific flavours, but the light would be something crisp, refreshing and fruity; while dark would refer to something with a roasted, savoury sensation. Though not always the case, this is a fairly simple jumping-off point.
Porters and stouts, with their dark brown colour, are known for being the richest beers one can usually find. With strongly roasted dark malts brewed into its backbone, these warm winter drafts are packed with flavours of coffee, dark fruit, and even chocolate. Though some may find them overwhelming on their own, the flavour becomes more complete when matched with caramelized meats (duck, steak, BBQ) and roasted vegetables. The beer is able to cut through the fat of the food and provide a balance of richness and sweetness, which is why these styles can also work with chocolate or even some fruity desserts.
At the opposite end of the spectrum, we find the golden and clear beers, which includes pilsners, lagers, golden and blonde ales, and wheat ales. While these beers can have small flavour variances, they are all recognized as being crisp and lightly fruity with a balanced match between hoppy and sweet. Because of this lighter nature, they are best matched with fresh vegetables and salads, grain dishes and chicken, cream-based fish dishes and light meat, like burgers. The carbonation of the beer will be enough to clear the palette nicely, but we don’t want the beer, or the food for that matter, to completely cancel out the flavour of the other.
The most popular beer style in America, the IPA (India Pale Ale), is widely known for its distinct hoppy flavour, but beyond that, the colour, strength, and secondary flavours may change based on the brewer. This is due to the many different strains of “hop”, the flowering cones that give beer its flavour, scent, and lasting properties. For the most part, IPAs pair well with spicy and bold
foods that emphasize hop character: curry, sausage, and Mexican food. IPAs are one style that, rather than aiming for balance, aim to emphasize strong flavours when paired with food. The pairing of spicy, bold foods ensures that a weak, lightly-flavoured beer won’t appear to stale out the taste buds after being so engaged.
Similar to IPAs, sour beers usually have a specific fruit or flavour addition depending on the brewer, but the vast majority will have a decidedly salty, yeasty or “funky” flavour. Pairing with food can be a bit more difficult because of this flavour profile; the salinity of the beer needs to be matched by the food. Cured meats and strong cheese can be a good fit, as well as mussels, egg dishes, and other highly acidic foods. Always consider the dominant flavour of the sour though, and you may find some matches that are seemingly too good to be true. For example, street tacos on a nice summer day will always find a delicious partner in a gose sour, known for their lemon-lime saltiness and a hint of coriander. One could almost best be described as a “margarita style” beer, and what could go better with a taco? Though the term “sour” may
frighten some taste buds, do your best to try out some unique experiments and add a little funk to your food!
Much as any drinker will have their own favourite style of beer, personal taste will have a bearing
on what works best when matching beer and food. However, knowing some of these simple
pairing notes means that your next dinner party can be that much tastier when you pop
open a cold one that best suits your meal!