Almost everyone knows that different types of wine must be paired with certain types of food for the best results. Did you know that the same is true for beer? Each style of beer works best with a certain range of foods. This article will explain how to properly pair beer and food.

As a general rule, strong beers should be paired with strong foods. Consider alcohol content, hop bitterness, richness, aftertaste etc. As an example, a traditional IPA works best with strong, spicy dishes and rich, bold-flavored deserts. A lighter beer like a cream ale is best paired with dishes such as chicken, salmon, and salads.

It is also useful to consider the inherent flavors of a beer (ie. nuts, chocolate, caramel) and match it with a similarly flavored food. Finding this kind of harmony can sometimes be challenging for inexperienced beer drinkers, but once you are able to establish the underlying flavor of a beer, finding complementary foods is easy.

If your meal consists of fois gras, goose, or a bold dessert like chocolate mousse, try pairing it with the rich, roasted flavors of an Imperial Stout. Or, if you’re planning on serving a dish such as cajun chicken or roast beef this holiday season, keep an amber ale on tap. If they appreciate beer, your guests will certainly notice the excellent harmony of flavors.

Here are some other notable beer and food pairing suggestions:

  • Rich, creamy soups go well with a hoppy beer such as a Czech-style pilsner.
  • Spicy foods like Thai or Indian curries are, not surprisingly, best accompanied by an India Pale Ale.
  • For light meals like salad, chicken, and seafood, consider pairing with a wheat beer such as a Hefeweizen.
  • Barbequed or smoked fare works nicely with an amber lager.
  • Duck and roasted pork can be accompanied by a dark, rich beer such as a Doppelbock.
  • If in doubt, stick to a traditional Pale Ale, which works well with many types of food.

Additional food pairing suggestions can be found in the Brewery Association’s Beer and Food Matching Chart. For best results, you will also want to provide fresh draft beer for yourself and your guests. At half the cost of cans and bottles, draft beer saves you money and tastes superior to bottled and canned products.

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