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Matching Beer & Food

In our constantly evolving gastronomic environment, Beer is fast becoming the epicurean choice as the perfect accompaniment to a plethora of food styles and dishes.

Don’t get me wrong, Wine can be an excellent choice for many meals, but for a truly gourmet experience, Beer is simply better at adding wider choice and pairing options. Wines have wonderful fruity and acidic qualities, that can compare and contrast to lots of foods, but the more complex characteristics found across the breadth of beer styles, really do match, and trump the best a vigneron has to offer.

However, you don’t need to be a ’master’ taster or chef to discover and implement the simplest of guidelines. A few rules of thumb can be followed to help you on the road to making the perfect match. It only takes a little time and thought to matching the flavours and aroma’s that are found in both individual beer’s and food’s.

Beer and Food
The Three C’s

Take these as a start point for what you want to achieve from the beer, and how it will best suit the food on offer.

Remember that some beers were brewed to be served on their own, and that you don’t want to lose the flavours of either beer or food by selecting styles that can be too dominant or passive. It’s all about balance.

The beer should either Compare or Contrast to the dish, and in both cases, may also Cleanse or Cut through the food and palate.


Choose a beer that will complement the flavours in the food. Perhaps you have a piece of roasted pork, crackling away, eschewing wonderful deep caramel flavours. Well think of beers that too have caramel characteristics, an amber ale; bock or brown ale, would all equally stand up to the task.


Choose a beer that will oppose the base flavours found within the dish. Perhaps a golden pilsener to oppose the creamy, heart warming properties of a pea and ham soup.


The majority of beers offer a good level of carbonation, which does the trick nicely when looking to refresh the palate. The hops found in many brews also slice through the fats and oils. But be wary that a big hop flavour can help cleanse, but can also overpower the balance.

Take the lead from wine…

To get it back to basics, think of white wine as lagers and lighter beers, and red wine as darker, more robust ales, porters and stouts.

Imagine it as a straight substitution, and particularly with white wine, assess the acidity and try to relate it to the hoppiness and bitterness within beer (the higher the acidity, the hoppier the beer).

Take a dish like Cajun dusted BBQ Calamari, perhaps you would combine with a light; zesty; high fruit and acid Semillon?

Translate those characteristics to a beer, and you may find a highly hop driven India Pale Ale fits the bill.

The hop bitterness and aroma match the wines acidity, and as a bonus (as with most beers), the carbonation refreshes and cleanses the palate, ready for the next tasty morsels.

Cooking with Beer? Click here for Recipe Ideas
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