When pairing beer with food, there are a few important things to keep in mind. The first, and most important, is the intensity of both the beer and the food. As with any beverage pairing, you want to make sure that neither the beer nor the food overpowers the other. For instance, you wouldn’t want to pair an intense and bitter Double IPA with something delicate and subtle, like raw fish.
After taking into account the balance of intensity between the beer and food, the next step is to decide what you want your pairing to achieve. There are essentially three basic categories in terms of pairing: Complement, Contrast, and Cut, otherwise known as the 3 C’s. First up, we'll be talking about Complement.
Let's talk about complement. When you are thinking about beer and food pairings that complement one another, you’re looking for similar aromas and flavors in both the beer and the food. For instance, if the dish has a certain spice to it such as coriander, then look for a beer with a similar spice note, like a Belgian Witbier, which is actually brewed with coriander. Eating a cheese that has a pleasant funky aroma, pair it with a similarly funky-smelling sour beer, such as a Gueuze.
One of our favorite pairings is a nice robust porter paired with a grilled barbecue ribs. The deep, chocolaty roasted character of the malts perfectly complements the caramelized and charred outer edges of the ribs. Go for a nice American robust porter for a medium body that can stand up to the texture of the ribeye. We like Founder’s Porter from Grand Rapids, Mich. Or brew your own and pair the ribs with our Chocolate Maple Porter.
If you want to go to extremes in regards to complement, pair a classic German Rauchbier with the ribs. You'll still have the same caramelized and roasted flavors but now with the added complement of smoke from the beechwood smoked malts in the Rauchbier. We like Aecht Schlenkerla Rauchbier, or brew your own with our BBQ Beer recipe from our first Beer Making Book.
Both of these pairings would also complement perfectly with a grilled ribeye steak.
Check back in two weeks, when we’ll be talking about the second C, Contrast.