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Beer & Food: The Perfect Pairing

By 18 May 2011 14

beer and food

The taste of beer used to make me screw my nose up…then I moved to Canberra for uni and it was the only thing I could afford to drink…and I learned to love it. So much so that, at one point during my stellar drinking…er…academic career, I could scull a middy through a straw in 11 seconds. Oh yes. My mother was so proud.

Anyhooooo. It’s been quite a few years since the VB-guzzling days of my youth and, in that time, beer has had quite the makeover. With more than one hundred microbreweries now operating in Australia, interesting and diverse styles of beer are becoming more and more readily available…but one aspect of craft beer that has yet to really take off is the idea of beer and food pairing.

If you’re a MasterChef fan, you’ll know that Series 1 contender, Chris Badenoch, was one of the first to really push the concept in the mainstream media…but it’s not something I’ve seen a lot of since. Then I heard that The Durham in Kingston are hosting a Beer and Food matching lunch this Sunday.

As a mad keen foodie who knows her way pretty well around wine and food matching, I was intrigued to find out how pairing principles work for beer. I asked local craft beer expert, Dan Rayner, to explain.

Most people will have some experience – or will at least have heard of – matching different wines to different meals or flavours but matching beer to food is a relatively novelty here in Canberra. But, with a far greater diversity in styles and flavours of beer out there now (compared with wine), beer is arguably a far more versatile beverage to pair with food.

This article first appeared on HerCanberra.

Just consider how well a crisp, grassy hoppy, dry lager cuts through a Thai curry or imagine how Little Creatures Pale Ale with strong fruity hop bitterness balanced with a malty sweet body might go with something as simple as a beef burger at your local pub.

When considering beer and food pairing the first thing to remember is the three “C’s”: complement, contrast and cleanse.

The first one, complement, is pretty straightforward. Getting a beer like a rich English old ale, for instance Greene King Strong Suffolk Ale, aged in oak, amber in colour with flavours of toasted nuts and burnt toffee paired with rare roast beef, caramelised onion gravy and potatoes. The sweeter caramelised characters in the beef dish are complimented by the malty, toffee, vanilla and nutty characters in the beer.

Contrasting flavours can sometimes bit a little more difficult; the idea is that the flavours in the beer and those in the food will match but might be vastly different. Imagine dark berry compote with something chocolaty – very different flavours that harmonise perfectly.

In exactly the same way a Belgian fruit beer, like Timmermans Framboise (“framboise” is French for raspberry), sweet and slightly sour but intensely raspberry would be a perfect match for a rich, dense, dark flourless chocolate cake.

Cleanse, the final pairing method is pretty much as it sounds; the beer is there to cleanse the palate of the dish with every mouthful.

A battered dish, like tempura-battered soft-shelled crab or even something more mainstream like fish and chips can leave the palate a little oily and this is where a big, fluffy, Bavarian hefeweizen (wheat beer) like Franziskaner or a light, yeasty Australian pale ale like Stone & Wood Pacific Ale comes into their own. The high carbonation of the hefeweizen bubbles away in the palate stripping away the oils leaving the mouth fresh and ready for the next bite of battered fish!

And with all of these ideas one must consider the size or boldness of the beer with that of the meal. There’s no sense in pairing a soft, subtle Belgian-style witbier like White Rabbit White Ale with a big rich meal like duck confit, the duck will almost certainly overpower the beer and the light flavours of coriander seed and bitter orange peel in the witbier will be lost – better to match this beautifully balanced beer with something equally delicate like summery salads, light-flavoured fish or seafood or maybe a goat’s cheese omelette.[/box]

If you’d like to learn more about craft beer and food pairing, or just savour the experience first-hand, pop along to the Durham Castle Arms in Kingston this Sunday 22 May. Events kick off at 12:30pm and you’ll get  a six course lunch paired with five of Australia’s best craft beers and one British cider all for $49 per person. Call Adrian at the Durham on 6295 1769 to book.

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14 Responses to
Beer & Food: The Perfect Pairing
EvanJames 5:46 pm
18 May 11
#1

I’d do a reply, but my mouth is watering and I’m off to buy some Little Creatures Pale Ale before the shop closes…

indigoid 6:46 pm
18 May 11
#2

Stop. Now. You’re over-complicating it.

Jethro 8:41 pm
18 May 11
#3

What should I drink with my $26 case of ALDI beer? I’m thinking a $10 (2kg) ALDI frozen lasagne??

LSWCHP 10:03 pm
18 May 11
#4

Jethro said :

What should I drink with my $26 case of ALDI beer? I’m thinking a $10 (2kg) ALDI frozen lasagne??

I used to say that there’s no such thing as a bad beer, until I discovered ALDI beer. Maybe they make some good ones, but the first one I tried actually made me gag, and I ended up pouring half a slab of it down the sink. The others haven’t been that bad, but not that great either.

Deckard 10:07 pm
18 May 11
#5

Mmmmm!! Fruity Hops…

Jivrashia 9:00 am
19 May 11
#6

Jethro said :

What should I drink with my $26 case of ALDI beer? I’m thinking a $10 (2kg) ALDI frozen lasagne??

Just make sure you cap the pop off the guzzle before you beer it.

Thoroughly Smashed 9:31 am
19 May 11
#7

indigoid said :

Stop. Now. You’re over-complicating it.

Back under your brick of VB tinnies.

qbngeek 10:02 am
19 May 11
#8

Food and Beer matching??????

Why oh why do you lot insist on making beer complicated. It was created to be an uncomplicated, working mans drink. Designed to slate a serious thirst.

Now its all pansie-ar$ed crap with twists of citrus and too much sniffing. Its thatbad that I have gone back to drinking more red wine than beer because wine seems to be a manly drink, where beer is becoming too………..rubbish.

And no, I don’t drink VB, I drink beer from two microbreweries becasue the bottle shops no longer sell proper ales anymore. It is all that lager crap. Give it too me hoppy and full of flavour.

EvanJames 10:16 am
19 May 11
#9

Jethro said :

What should I drink with my $26 case of ALDI beer? I’m thinking a $10 (2kg) ALDI frozen lasagne??

Hmmm. I think you might be over-capitalising the beer there.

Regarding cheap euro beer, the Coles iteration (henniger or somesuch) is the best I’ve found. The Aldi and Woolies’ offerings are a bit elbow-y.

I wish the Wig and Pen would bottle more of their ales. Really superb work there.

Thoroughly Smashed 4:06 pm
19 May 11
#10

qbngeek said :

Why oh why do you lot insist on making beer complicated. It was created to be an uncomplicated, working mans drink. Designed to slate a serious thirst.

Citation needed.

Even if you’re right, all it means is that you’re a luddite. Nobody’s holding a gun to your head and forcing you to contemplate your beer as you drink it. Nobody’s making your beer drinking experience more complicated.

qbngeek said :

Give it too me hoppy and full of flavour.

On this we can thoroughly agree.

indigoid 9:07 am
20 May 11
#11

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Even if you’re right, all it means is that you’re a luddite.

I don’t think “luddite” means what you think it means

sirocco 9:22 am
20 May 11
#12

I think, by definition, a Luddite would probably support Stone & Wood’s “handcrafted” beers and would be in total opposition to the relatively more industrialised mass production of VB.

Maybe “beer philistine” or “culinary troglodyte” might be better slurs :p

Skidbladnir 9:32 am
20 May 11
#13

Thoroughly Smashed said :

Even if you’re right, all it means is that you’re a luddite. .

What? He’s destroying technology because he’s afraid will replace him?
I’m guessing that you’re something of a beer hipster, then?

indigoid 10:03 am
20 May 11
#14

sirocco said :

I think, by definition, a Luddite would probably support Stone & Wood’s “handcrafted” beers and would be in total opposition to the relatively more industrialised mass production of VB.

Maybe “beer philistine” or “culinary troglodyte” might be better slurs :p

Yes, this.

My original gripe was with all teh complicated thought processes that mere primitives such as myself find too, well, complicated.

I like enjoying my beer and letting it stand upon its own podium. I have a nice simple rule of thumb. If I’m having a steak, I’ll have a Coopers Sparkling if available, or any other non-s—* beer. Any other time I’ll have a Coopers Pale if available, or any other non-s—* beer. Easy!

I’ll go vegan and start riding bicycles before I drink another VB. Yargh.

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