When you are invited to dinner, you usually think of asking about the menu in advance in order to decide which bottle of wine to bring to your hosts. For some years now, beer has been making its way into pairings with our gastronomy, creating harmonious and surprising encounters that exit classic schemes that have always appreciated the grape over hops.
In some places, beer and food pairing is much more widespread. It's enough to think of countries such as Germany, Belgium or England, countries that among other things, produce excellent, well-known and less famous craft beers. In any event, to understand a bit how to correctly pair a beer with a dish, we must take into account some obvious factors, such as the type of cooking or the condiments used.
Beer and food can be paired using the theories of concordance or contrast. In the first instance, a beer is paired with food having a common or similar flavor or aroma (for example, the pairing of a chocolate-based dessert with a dark beer that has similar aromatic notes). In the second instance, however, as the word itself says, the search is that of a contrast that needs to be such as to not lose the flavors of either the food or the beer in the pairing.
However, the most important thing to understand is that one must follow one's personal taste. There is no perfect pairing, but a series of options based on the particular menu and the consumer's preferences that can ideally harmonize and exalt an explosion of flavor to please the palate.
Which beers pair well with which meets?
The beer that by far is easiest to pair with meat, especially pork, is Weizen. Weizen beer is produced with malted wheat, has strong aromatic notes of yeast and ripe fruit, and a round and fresh taste. This beer's finish in the mouth is dry and slightly bitter and works perfectly with fatty pork. Even a beer like Gose, light but acidulous, is perfect for pairing with pork: these peculiarities help to degrease the mouth and at the same time make the taste of the meat even more pleasant.
As for white meats such as chicken, turkey or rabbit, it is better to focus on Pils or Helles. Both are fresh, sweet beers, with low alcohol content and are very pleasant on the palate. They are less likely to suffocate the delicate flavors of these meats, but, rather, enhance their characteristics in part due to their spiced aromas.
For grilled red meat, and barbecued meat, malty beers or Belgian Strong Ale are excellent choices. Belgian beers, in general, are well suited to red meat, especially when rare, cooked on the grill or lightly seared.
Which beers pair well with fish?
Yes, fish can pair beautifully not only with white wine, but also beer. This is not just a phenomena that we are discovering now, however. In Northern Europe, especially Belgium, consuming fish with beer has always been a tradition.
In Italy, there is still some prejudice, and the pairings are quite classic and not too bold. We therefore focus on beers like Pils and Blanche, fresh and sweet, very refreshing and with a delicate citrus aftertaste that goes well with the fish.
Beers with higher alcohol levels struggle a bit to find space in this area, but it is not a gamble to pair them with shellfish-based dishes, perhaps cooked in stews or with spicy tomato-based sauces.
Beer and pizza: an everlasting love.
This is perhaps the most popular combination one can think of. Just close your eyes and think of a nice steaming pizza and next to it a mug beaded with condensation, full of amber liquid and with an airy, foamy hat. The problem is that often, in pizzerias, the draft beer that is served is the most unsuitable to accompany this beloved Italian food. Pizza should not be paired with a bitter beer. Beer for pizza is one that ideally binds well to the acidity of the tomato. Good choices would be Blanche and Weizen, already examined above. Bock beer is perfect, as the malt, fruit and caramel notes work wonders with the leavened dough topped with tomato and mozzarella. The same thing can be said of Tripel beer, which has a very similar taste to the Bock, but possesses a higher alcohol content.
Which beers pair well with which cheese?
Also in this case we are entering a territory that is not particularly well-known in many places. Yet beer and cheese are born from the same process, that of fermentation. And, beer boasts the advantage of being able to degrease the mouth well after eating a structured, savory cheese, for example, thus allowing one to then go on to tasting different dishes.
For delicate cheeses, it is good to choose beers that agree with their characteristics, therefore those with low alcohol content, slightly fruity flavors and not many spiced aromatic notes. Northern Europe teaches us that Bocks are a great choice.
However, possibly the most excellent pairings are those between savory cheeses and Abbey beers, such as Tripel and Dubbel, and with IPA. These are winning choices to be enjoyed with very tasty cheeses such as gorgonzola or aged pecorino, making their flavors even more intense.
Beer at the end of the meal?
Here the gamble is high. In fact, it is not easy to find a beer that is well suited to dessert. Opting for those light and drinkable beers, with a fruity taste, such as Blanche or Weizen is a safer bet. However, desserts with intense flavor, perhaps based on chocolate, call for beers that are equally structured, such as dark beers whose roasted notes are a little reminiscent of those of coffee, such as is the case with Stout beer.