Simple beer pairing guide

2 mins read
Beer and steak
Beer and steak

Beer pairing dinners seem to be all the rage lately. More and more people are beginning to realize that the complex flavors of beer can compliment more than backyard barbecue fare. If you’ve ever been to a beer pairing event, you know that the chef likes to describe how the thus-and-such flavor of the beer brings out this particular flavor in that particular dish. It can sound a little complicated and pretentious to your average beer drinker.

So, here is a list of simple beer pairing suggestions, abbreviated from an already short and simple list from

Food Beer Reasoning
Southeast Asian, Indian and Central/South American (spicy) Light, crisp beers such as light lagers Light body cools the heat
Cheese Nutty brown ale, sweet hoppy double IPA or tangy wheat ale Similar to nuts, fruits and sweets often paired with cheese
Desserts or meat dishes Stouts and porters Coffee and chocolate flavors match similar flavors in desserts and meats
Foods featuring spices and herbs Belgian beers Often spicy, tangy or fruity, pair with foods featuring spices and herbs to pull similar flavors forward from the beer
Dessert British Barleywines (usually sweet) Syrupy and fruity, excellent stand-ins for dessert wines
Fatty meats, creamy sauces and starches American Barleywines (usually hoppy) Bitterness helps cut through fat and starches

The basic concept is to take the character of the food (sweet, bitter, spicy, etc) and either compliment it with a beer with a similar character or choose a beer with a contrasting flavor profile. The key, I think, is to experiment because there really are no wrong answers.

In the end it comes down to personal taste. For instance, Mexican food would generally be paired with a light lager but I really enjoy drinking Modelo Dark with Mexican dishes. Besides, if you say a certain beer pairs well with a certain food because the flavor profile of the beer compliments the spices in the food, your less-beer-educated friends aren’t likely to argue. They’ll just think you’re a beer geek and what could be better than that?

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