FP21: Beer and Food Pairing

17 Sep 2006, Posted by Jennifer Iannolo in beverages, chefs & restaurants, podcast

Who knew that beer could be such a lovely complement to a multi-course meal? Well, now *I* do, but it took some convincing — and tasting. In Part I of our double-whammy of beer (Part II will be on the next ReMARKable Palate), Mark talks with Jill Vaughn, Brew Master of Anheuser-Busch, about the various flavor profiles of beer and how each type is best matched with food. This little primer is followed by my comments on the tasting dinner we attended at Craft in New York, where Jill’s craft brews were paired with a fall menu from Chef Damon Wise to offer unique ideas for holiday entertaining.

Theme Music: Super Hot Lady Cop by Beau Hall

The Food Philosophy podcast is a production of The Gilded Fork.

  • Anonymous

    Welcome to the world of beer!
    Incidentally, the Craft Beer Radio podcast is the reason I went to the CPN (though it had been mentioned on Eat Feed and by Fran, over at Betumi).
    As it so happens, beer is one of my passions.
    The interview itself was fairly interesting (shows that you’ve done your homework). But the world of beer as a culinary item is much larger than what A-B lets out. A-B should be commended for their attempts to join up forces with the craft beer movement in North America, but there’s still a lot more to think about.
    On food pairings, you might want to check out a recent episode of Basic Brewing Radio when they interviewed Randy Mosher on food pairings. Very insightful and quite surprising to some (IPA and… carrot cake!).
    As craft beer people tend to say, pairing food with beer makes much more sense than pairing food with wine (with a few exceptions in Italian cuisine). And beer is really quite complex, with more than a hundred styles in several categories:
    (Not to mention regional differences. There are literally hundreds of different Belgian Specialty Ales…)
    A large beer category which wasn’t mentioned by A-B (because they don’t brew any) and which pairs very well with food is that of sour beers. From gueuze, Flemish Red, Oud Bruid, and Lambic to Berliner Weisse and Gose.
    Some restaurants are even hiring beer sommeliers:
    Actually, there really should be a feature on beer and food in Imbibe magazine.

  • Sarah

    There’s actually a nice article on beer and cheese pairings in the Sept/Oct issue of Imbibe–there’s also a big feature on hops. Thanks for the interesting podcast.

  • Anonymous

    Finally found a place that carries Imbibe here in town. A must-read, really. It’s so nice to see cross-fertilization between the different beverage worlds and this magazine strikes the perfect balance between being informative and entertaining.

    Speaking of pairing food with beer, I just had the last bottle of a beer I had made a few years ago (a Belgian Saison with hibiscus flowers). According to some, this beer was somewhat reminiscent of Orval, a very unique beer. Thinking of Orval, I went looking for what Garrett Oliver had to say about it in his Brewmaster’s Table. A short excerpt:
    Orval has a complex nose of citric hops, lemon zest, sage leaves, saddle leather, wet wool, and damp earth. Funky, salty flavors will provide a brilliant counterpoint to the beer. Orval will draw the salt out of well-aged prosciutto and then send its funky earthy flavors in to commune with the gaminess of the ham. The band-saw bitterness will slice through the oil of grilled sardines, while the lemon-zest aromatics ramp up the flavor of the fish and the damp earth meets the open sea on your palate.
    And it’s just the tip of the iceberg for Orval. Not to mention that Orval is only one of the Trappist beers (along with Chimay, Rochefort, Westvleteren, Westmalle and Achel in Belgium, and Koningshoeven in the Netherlands) and that each of these beers is as different from the other Trappist beers as a Sauvignon Blanc would be from a Sauternes.

    Beer provides the diversity and complexity needed for my brand of altruistic hedonism. I’m not on a mission to convert people to beer, but I’m anxious to get as many people as possible to enjoy life as much as I do.

    Discovering beer is like entering a hidden dimension of life, where every combination of aromas and flavours is possible, where pure sensorial enjoyment is the key, and where true human character reigns.

    To be honest (but blunt), I can’t find the same complexity in wine as I do in beer. It’s kind of sad, actually, as I don’t enjoy wine as much as I used to. I especially miss some wines made by family members and friends in Switzerland. These were the types of wines you never find elsewhere as Swiss people tend to keep the best products for themselves. They were also carefully crafted wines, made for the particular tastes of a specific person who didn’t have to please a specific crowd or market her wine to an outside audience. Some of these people have passed on and the others are too far away.

    On the other hand, beer can fulfill so many roles that I don’t really feel the loss, on most occasions. The main exception would be when I want to appease snobbish tendencies in my peers. But that doesn’t happen very often. I prefer to live without thinking too much about other people’s personal attitudes.

    The main thing in brewing beer is to follow your own instincts and live in the aromas and flavours you can get. It’s not a lottery, it’s a creative process.

    Many people in North America tend to rely on “beer styles” (from American IPA to Robust Porter and from Dunkelweizen to Märzen). But, at least in the Belgian philosophy of brewing, the only limit to what you can brew is your own imagination. For someone who feels life through and through, that’s not much of a limit.

    Thanks to your show on Scandinavia, I was inspired to add aquavit-type spices to a Lambic I brewed last night. I can already predict the results will be fabulous. Even if the beer turns out less than fabulous, the process was an intense sensory experience.