Wine pairing has been popular for centuries, but for those who prefer a tall glass of hoppy brew over a fancy glass of fermented grape juice, there's a new way to combine your food and alcohol -- beer pairing. By choosing a beer that complements your dish, you bring out the best flavors in both the beer and the food, making for a truly pleasurable dining experience. Another good thing about beer pairing is that it does not have to take place in a refined environment. You can practice basic beer pairing at your local pub or favorite bar and grill. Here's a look at some common dishes, and the styles of beers that pair best with them.
A hearty burger calls for a robust and complex beer, such as a malty nut brown ale. Simple burgers can be paired with a hearty stout or porter, while those dressed with complex toppings such as bleu cheese and bacon can be paired with a somewhat lighter lager. The deep, roasted flavors in these beers complement the flavor of beef very well.
Like burgers, steaks pair well with dark beers. Stay away from creamier oatmeal stouts, which are too sweet to pair with a steak, and opt instead for an Imperial stout, which tends to have a cleaner mouth feel. Basic porters (not those flavored with vanilla or spices) are also great choices.
Spicy Chicken Dishes
A spicy chicken dish calls for an equally intense beer that won't get hidden by the spice. A hoppy India Pale Ale is a great choice. If you're hoping to tone down the spice, pair your chicken dish with a fruit-flavored beer such as a lambic or Belgian white ale.
Mild Chicken Dishes
The flavors of mild chicken dishes are easily hidden by strong beers, so the secret here is to go as mild and light as possible. A pilsner will do the job well. If you're craving a creamier beer, pair your chicken dish with a honey ale.
Salads, once again, call for a mild beer that won't mask their flavors. Pair a fruity, spring salad with a lambic or pilsner. Heavier salads with bleu cheese or balsamic dressings can taste excellent with amber lagers or nut brown ales.
Fish and lager is a classic pub combination. Enjoy your fish fry with a medium lager. If you like something a little stronger, a pale ale or an India pale ale can work well, too.
Experiment with some of the beer pairings suggested above, and see how much flavorful your food tastes. If you're feeling rather adventurous, you can go to a bar and grill like Mugshots Burger N' Brew, order a flight of several different similar beers, and compare the way each tastes with your food.