Beer and Food Pairing

Beer can be paired with all foods! It’s all about creativity and some basic guidelines and there is not one straight answer to beer and food combinations. Pairing beer based on style involves matching the flavors and characteristics of the beer with the flavors and characteristics of the food. For example, a malty and hoppy India pale ale (IPA) can be a good match for spicy food, while a crisp and refreshing pilsner can be a good match for seafood.

Beer is fun and creative. So is food! Play around and find out, what works for you. Just keep this in mind:

Simple guidelines:

  • Match the aroma of the food with the beer’s aroma
  • Match the fullness / richness of the food with the beer’s alcohol and aroma
  • Opposite tastes compliment; sweet vs salty, malty vs salty, sweet vs sour, acidity vs sweet
  • Harmony flavors; sour with sour, acidity with acid, sweet with sweet.
  • Light beers with light food – dark and heavy beers with dark and heavy food

The king of beer and food pairing is doppelbock! It goes with most things up till veal. One of my favorite beer pairings is tatar with doppelbock. Altbier and Brown ale works great as well, though!

 

Here is what beer can do that wine cannot:

  • The alcohol cleanses the tongue and removes that kind of filminess from the fat
  • Hops cuts through strong flavors and grease
  • Carbon dioxide lightens the food and cleans the taste buds and resets taste memory
  • Flavor and aroma enhances the beer and the food experience. Kind of like 1+1=3

 

Beer and food pairing according to aroma and strength

  • Light food, ex. Launch, salat, chicken, light fish: Light beer, pilsner, lager, wittbier, weissbier, gose, ale, pale ale, NEIPA
  • Medium food, ex. Pork, light veal, aromatic fish, varm launch: Medium beer, hoppy lager, dark lager, session IPA, red ale, bock, APA, brown ale, IPA, duppel, saison
  • Rich food, ex. red meat, fatty sauces, stews: Strong beer, doppelbock, stout, porter, strong IPA (double), strong brown ale, dark Belgian beer, trippel, quadrupel
  • Spicy food, ex. Mexican food, Thai food and sushi - light beer, lager, mexican lager, wittbier, berliner weisse, gose, golden ale, pale ale, Japanese lager, low hoppy beers
  • Fast food, ex- burger, pizza, fried food: IPA, hoppy lager, west coast IPA. Fried food loves bubbles and hops!
  • Fish: Duvel for fatty fish or an Altbier with low fat fish. Watch out for hops. They can sometimes make it more bitter and metallic. But again, pair the aroma of the fish with the beer. Wheat beer, saison.
  • Shellfish: Wheat beer, saison.
  • Smoked fish: Scotch ale or Bock, while cold smoked fish does better with something zippy. My favorite is a Belgian saison or a hefeweizen
  • Oisters and clams: Porter!

 

How to Pair Beer Based on Style
  • Light lagers: Spicy food, burgers, salads, launch, fish, sushi
  • Wheat beers: Spicy food and fruity desserts, fish, shellfish
  • India pale ale (IPA): Steak, pizza, burger, fried food, barbecue, Thai and Mexican food
  • Amber ales: Pizza, fried food, smoked pork
  • Dark lagers: Pizza, burgers, heavy stews
  • Brown ales: Sausage, meat
  • Dark heavy ales (Belgian): Dark and heavy food

 

Cheese
Pair beer alcohol to strength of the cheese, ex. cheddar with Guinness and barley wine with blue cheese

  • Barley wine, imperial porter and stouts goes with strong, flavorful cheese and blue cheese
  • Lighter cheese with porters and stouts
  • Sour goat cheese with IPA
  • Brie with lambic

 

Dessert
Stouts and porters are always your go to beer for desserts, but here some more pointers.

  • Porter and stouts with chocolate
  • Cream and sour desserts with kriek
  • White chocolate with wittbier/berry soured beer
  • Milk chocolate with IPA/weissbier
  • Dark chocolate with stout/porter/kriek
  • Vegan chocolate with lambic
  • Candy with sour beer

 

Beer in cooking
There are two important rules here:

  • Hoppy beers are not good in food
  • The stronger the aroma of the beer, the more you can taste it

 

Where to use in cooking
Hoppy beers rarely work, but dark beers work great in

  • Sauces
  • Marinades
  • Bread
  • Desserts in general, ex. Chocolate cake with kriek or porter. Pancakes with porter or brown ale. Also try barley wines, stouts and other porters. You can really get creative here.

 

These are all just guidelines. Try out different things and find out, what your preference is. Have fun!

Fermentation Guide

A good fermentation is critical for a good beer. It’s way more important than the perfect recipe. We create the wort, but it’s the yeast that creates the beer. There are a few things we can do to create the best environment for the yeast.

  1. Nutrition and oxygen, especially for higher OG beers (that’s for another guide)
  2. Pitching and pitching rate
  3. And temperature control

Yeast produces other things than alcohol and co2 – esters and phenols gives fruity and spicy flavors but some other compounds like diacetyl, acetaldehyde, and fusel alcohols are not desired. DMS is not caused by yeast btw. With a good fermentation we can control these compounds.

But the most important thing is to start of with a good healthy yeast and make sure you have enough of it. A program like Brewfather is a good tool for this. With higher OG (original gravity) beers oxygen and yeast nutrition is also important. But that’s for another topic.

 

There 3 phases of fermentation

  1. Adaption or Lag phase, 6-24 hours, the yeast is getting ready by using their own glycogen reserves and lipids and oxygen from the wort to rebuild themselves and grow. An oxygen rich wort shortens the lag phase
  2. High growth or high kräusen, is about 1-6 days, is where the yeast starts to eat and produce alcohol by eating sugar and thereby also creating esters and phenols
  3. Maturation or conditioning phase can be as long as 10 days and starts when the co2 activity slows down. The rule of thumb is double the time from the high growth phase. Unless you increase the temperature. I’ll get back to that.

 

There are 2 (3) ways to add yeast
1. Direct pitch, which often goes well, but you need buy several packets of yeast.
a. It’s recommended to rehydrate dry yeast if the OG is higher than 1.065. Rehydrate dry yeast is better for the yeast in general, especially higher OG beers. There is a link on how to this in the description
2. Making a yeast starter. Programs like Brewfather is also great for this


Controlling the temperature
If the yeast is too cold it will go to sleep and too hot it will go berserk and create off flavors (10f or 5c above range) like fusel alcohol, banana or bubblegum esters. These flavors cannot be re-absorbed be the yeast.


A good fermentation starts with pitching the yeast at the right temperature.
Pitching at high temperature is risky because the yeast might produce more metabolites (and thereby off flavors) than it can reabsorb in the maturation phase, which effects how clean tasting the beer is in the end.


You can get a perfectly clean beer by pitching at the low temperature range of the yeast. Or just below. Ex The Chico strain, California ale, has a range of 68-73degf (20-23c), you should pitch at 65-68degf (18-20c). If you want more fruity esters and phenols, you should pitch higher within the range.


When the yeast is pitched let it rise to wanted fermentation temperature and keep it there to the end of the high growth phase. If you’re measuring the SG (specific gravity), you should now that the maturation phase tarts, when there are 2-5 SG points left. If possible, you should raise the temperature for phase. 5degC or 7degF for ales and 8-10degC or 14-18degF for lagers and keep the temperature there for 6-14 days. If you don’t raise the temperature, you should go at least 14 days. If you want to be sure, you can just double the time from the high growth phase and then the yeast has done its job cleaning up. Unless you have underpitched your yeast, but in that case it’s too late anyway. You’ll be stuck with the off flavors at that point.
I’m often asked about secondary fermentation, but I never transfer my beer to secondary. There is no evidence that this has any benefits. It doesn’t make a cleaner beer and it doesn’t make a better tasting beer. But you risk oxidation and contamination, so I don’t recommend that. There are other reason why commercial brewers do it, but we really don’t have to.
You can easily let your beer sit in the fermentation tank for 5-6 weeks. It won’t produce autolysis.

You can check out here how to make a simple fermentation chamber

 

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BU/GU Guide

BU/GU is SO important to know something about for a balanced beer. The higher the gravity is, the higher the bitterness needs to be - relatively. It also depended on the style. Take a look at this guide

 

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