Pairing beer with food can enhance the flavor of your food and is a surprisingly versatile ingredient for cooking, too! Read on to learn how to perfectly pair your brews!
You might be used to pairing steak with red wine, but malty beers enhance the flavors of the beef by contrasting the salt and adding depth to the meat. Belgian-style ales like Dubbels and Tripels with hints of caramel and brown sugar, coax out the succulence by breaking down fat and enhance the caramelization in red meat. These slightly sweet brews also linger on the palate to enliven the juices with every bite and round out the nuttiness of the beef – especially in dry-aged and highly marbled cuts.
Beer is an excellent choice for roast chicken and decadent dishes like Coq au Vin or Chicken Marsala to bring crisp notes to the mix. Farmhouse ales like a Saison are highly carbonated to cut the richness, and the fruity touch balances the butter without without being overly sweet. It's fizzy enough to counteract the fat and oil and fresh enough to cleanse the palate of savory sauces. Saisons also have a touch of spice that impart earthy notes to the poultry that keep the pairing grounded.
Hearty dishes like chili or slow-cooked stews need an equally robust beer to stand up to the flavors and add another layer of boldness in beverage form. Stouts and Doppelbocks both boast big flavors and are toasty and full-bodied enough to hold their own without getting lost in a flavorful chili or stew. Often referred to as 'liquid bread,' when paired with food, these beer varieties are like dipping warm rolls into a savory sauce but with a refreshing swirl of sweetness to create the perfect bite that's both quenching and satisfying. Hints of rum raisin, caramel, and even chocolate truffle will take stewed meats to the next level while upping the aromatic factor to engage all of your senses.
Capping off your crustaceans with a yeasty brew is even better than any vine-grown accompaniment, with the added benefit of quenching your thirst on a sunny afternoon of scarfing down scallops and snow crabs. Witbiers, with their slightly sweet, honey-like flavor, expertly match the sweetness of shellfish and wrap them in its velvety embrace thanks to the addition of oats. A fruity yet malt-forward finish to this style of ale round out the softness of lobster meat to create complex layers of flavor not found in the fish alone.
Adding beer to your recipes is a simple way to enhance the flavors. Use beer to baste foods when roasting, baking, or broiling to impart a deeper caramelization and enliven the sauce. When used in place of water as the simmering liquid for vegetables, beer will infuse them with a brighter, bolder taste. It also brings a rich, earthy flavor to soups and stews as though they've been simmering for hours. You can even add nutty beers to your sweet treats for a more complex, layered dessert. And don’t worry about alcohol content. Virtually all of it evaporates during the cooking process.