Food With Beer Recipe

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Food & beer have been friends for centuries, bringing joy to millions of people along the way. With Food With Beer, we explore their connections, from ancient times to modern day pairing and recipe creation. Through food travel, beer education and cooking innovation, we celebrate the beautiful harmony of food and beer.

Food With Beer Recipe

Beverage directors, chefs, and even wine lovers have learned that beer has an amazing capacity to pair with all kinds of foods. As a result, beer sommeliers have popped up in cities across the country, especially Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and Portland, Oregon. Beer-and-food tasting events have multiplied exponentially—the monthly lists at beerfestivals.org are enormous. Nowadays, asking for a beer no longer means you’re simply afraid of wine (or the type of person who wears face paint to football games).

Beer may actually be more food-friendly than wine is. There is certainly more room for flavor variety. Winemakers, after all, have one ingredient to play with: grapes (two, if you count wood barrel–aging). Beermakers, on the other hand, can experiment with barley (which adds sweetness), hops (which provide bitterness), yeast (which lend that characteristic “bready” flavor), as well as spices, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables.

Here, a list of beer and food pairing menu ideas to help you plan your next dinner party (or what to order on your next night out!).

Ale

Pair with: Burgers; buffalo wings; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food; nutty food; fried food; pizza; steaks; Cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheeses.

Recipes to try:

  • Steakburger with Tangy Caramelized Onions and Herb Butter
  • Coconut Chicken Curry in a Hurry

Bock Beer

Pair with: Gruyère, Emmental, and Swiss cheeses; Cajun food; jerk chicken; beef; sausage; seared foods.

Recipes to try:

  • Grilled Jerk Chicken
  • Grilled Pork Chops with Pineapple-Turmeric Glaze

Fruit Beer

Pair with: Mascarpone cheese; light white meat; foods driven by herbs and spices; duck and pork dishes with sweet components (avoid very tart lambics); pickled dishes (great with tart lambics); salads with fruity dressings; fruity desserts.

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Recipes to try:

  • Herb-Crusted Cauliflower Steaks
  • Southern One-Cup Peach Cobbler

Lager Beer

Pair with: Shellfish; light seafood; sushi; grilled pork and chicken; not-too-heavy pasta dishes (without cream or meat sauces); Southeast Asian food; Latin food; Mexican food; spicy food.

Recipes to try:

  • Greek-Style Shrimp Pasta With Kale
  • Sheet-Pan Crispy Fish Tacos With Chili-Roasted Corn
White serving platter on a granite countertop filled with salmon asparagus and escarole salad with elegant wooden salad...

Pilsner Beer

Pair with: American cheese; Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack cheeses; salads; light seafood; salmon; tuna; trout; asparagus; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food.

Recipes to try:

  • Best-Ever Grilled Cheese
  • Lemon-Roasted Salmon With Escarole, Asparagus, and Potatoes

Porter Beer

Pair with: Smoked foods; barbecue; sausage; rich stews; meats; bacon; chili; braised dishes.

Recipes to try:

  • Our Favorite Texas Beef Chili
  • Smoked Chicken Wings
Gingerbread brownies in a rectangular cookie tin against a green backdrop.

Stout Beer

Pair with: Roasted foods; smoked foods; barbecued/grilled foods; salty foods; oysters; rich stews; braised dishes; chocolate; desserts (ideally the beer is sweeter than the dish).

Recipes to try:

  • Shawarma-Spiced Braised Leg of Lamb
  • Gingerbread Brownies

Wheat Beer

Pair with: Light soups and salads; vegetarian dishes; sushi; Gruyère cheese and Feta/goat cheese; sweet and fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.

Recipes to try:

  • Cheesy Potato and Kale Gratin With Rye Croutons
  • Grain Bowl With Spiced Squash, Mushrooms, and Curried Yogurt

Food that Goes Incredibly Well with Beer

l too often, craft beer aficionados will throw around jargon which leaves even the most well-studied among us blank-faced and head-scratching. What does it mean for a beer to have body? Does anyone actually even know what hoppy beer tastes like?

If you’re finding yourself asking some of these questions, enjoy a quick primer before taking a deeper dive into pairing.

Light: It varies depending on who you ask, but light beers are generally those with a more amber coloring, a milder flavor, and a crisp and refreshing feel. Lightness has also become a commercial term used to describe caloric content and it’s no coincidence. Most lighter beers are lower in alcohol content––think pilsners or lightly tart ales.

Dark: As you might expect, dark beers typically have an opaque brown or black coloring which corresponds to their richness and weight. Often, darker beers have thicker consistencies owing to the malt used in the brewing process. In contrast to their lighter counterparts, dark beers also have higher ABV’s and calorie contents (most of the time). That said, there are plenty of offerings out there with ABV’s in the neighborhood of 5%.

Hops: Hops refer to the flower from the female hops plant used to brew beer. Hops can add an element of bitterness to beer which helps to balance out the sweetness of the grain. Though, to be clear hops impart a variety of flavors beyond bitter (fruity, funky, dank, earthy, etc.). But, when that regular at the bar refers to a beer as “hoppy,” they mean that they can more clearly taste the hops of the beer (i.e., typically it’s more bitter). IPAs and Pale Ales typically have the most notable hop characteristics in modern beer.

Malt: Malted grains comprise the backbone of most of the beer we drink. As a result, a beer’s color and mouthfeel are influenced largely by its malt content. In contrast to hops, which can add an element of bitterness to beer, malt is often sweeter. Beers with more of a discernable malt presence include stouts, porters, and brown ales.

Bitterness: Measured in International Bitterness Units (IBUs), bitterness refers to a sharp taste, generally lacking in sweetness. As a general rule of thumb, beers with higher IBUs will be more bitter, but there are tons of variables that go into the final taste and there are bound to be exceptions.

Mouthfeel: Think of the tactile sensation you experience in your mouth when drinking a beer. Beers with more mouthfeel are those that skew more towards solid. In contrast, beers with less mouthfeel are often gentler, with a less-defined sipping sensation.

Still with me? Good. Now that you’ve got some of the basics under your belt, read on for a crash course in pairing with food.

Know Your Goals When Pairing

Photo courtesy of Springdale

Without having a clear idea of what you’re looking to achieve, how can you expect to make informed pairing decisions? (After all, you’re reading a pairing guide for a reason.) Have some direction when choosing food and booze, otherwise you’re apt to lose sight of the end result.

Whether that means carefully matching flavors or opting for opposites,

But at the same time, don’t forget to experiment (see below for more). The best course of action may be to forgo conventional wisdom in favor of something novel.

Complement the Food With Your Beer

Photo courtesy of Hoof Hearted

For the most part, this one’s pretty intuitive. Think of beers that’ll boost the food’s flavor rather than overpower it. You’re looking for harmony––just like music, you’ll notice when something’s off-key.

Hoof Hearted’s Brayden Volk emphasizes that “there’s been ample experimentation that backs up most of the hard and fast recommendations” and that “matching the weight of the meal with the body of the beer” or “amplifying flavor components of the dish with complementary flavors in beer” would “serve to enhance what could otherwise have been a fairly banal Monday night dinner.”

In other words, people have been eating and drinking for a long time, and there’s good reason to get your food and drink to cooperate (it tends to work).

For example, Mo Bentley suggests that “if you’re going with seafood or something spicy, or generally lighter food like chicken, you’re gonna want to go for a lighter lager or sour beer.” Sticking to lighter beers with less body to them will keep you from overwhelming something milder like chicken or fish.

Conversely, Bentley says that “dark beers pair well with smoked meats and sausages and richer desserts”––advice she puts into practice in the form of some dangerous-sounding porter-chili combos and stout brownie mixes.

When Pairing Food, Opposites Attract

Contrasting your beer with your food is a bold statement that’ll surely demonstrate your foodie clout. It’s one thing to spring for “like with like,” but something else to pit two opposing flavors against each other (and make it work).

When going for this option, be sure to pick out a strong flavor you wish to highlight, because that’ll be what gets most of the spotlight. Bentley suggests pairing a “fatty seafood dish with a hoppy IPA” because the “beer will cut through the fat,” providing “balance to the hops’ bitterness.”

Where these flavors might be too much on their own, exploiting their differences allows you to make them manageable. That being said, it’s critical that they’re strong enough to stand up to your pairing––pick something that’s too mild and it’ll get lost.

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