We have talked about beer pairing before on Beer Utopia but I came across a handy chart at beertown.org, the Brewers Association site, and I thought it was worth sharing. You can download or order a hard copy of the chart and I would encourage you to do so.
In addition to pairing suggestions for many styles of beer, the chart shows the beer’s relative alcohol content, flavor, bitterness, and color. As if that weren’t enough, it also lists the proper serving temperature and glass wot use for the style.
There are also some general pairing guidelines on Beer Town’s seasonal beer page.
Match strength with strength. It is simply common sense that delicate dishes work best with delicate beers, and it is equally true that strongly flavored foods demand assertive beers. Intensity of flavor may involve many aspects: alcoholic strength, malt character, hop bitterness, sweetness, richness, roastiness and so on.
Find harmonies. Combinations often work best when they share some common flavor or aroma elements. The nutty flavor of an English-style brown ale and a handmade cheddar cheese; the deep, roasted flavors of an imperial stout and chocolate truffles, and the rich, caramelly flavors of an Oktoberfest lager and roasted pork are all examples of this.
Consider sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat (spice) and richness. This may seem a little complicated, but it really is quite straightforward. Specific characteristics of food and beer interact with each other in predictable ways. Taking advantage of these interactions ensures that the food and beer will balance each other, each giving you a desire for a taste of the other.