The science of pairing beer with food

The science of pairing beer with food

The science of pairing beer with food

Beer is having a moment in the spotlight when it comes to food and drink pairings, according to a leading figure in the brewing business.

At the Institute of Food Technologists 2016: Where Science Feeds Innovation event, Keith Villa, founder and head brewmaster of Blue Moon Brewing Company, offered valuable into this trend, explaining how times have changed since he launched his business when "beer and food pairings were an anomaly". These days, beer is readily accepted as making an effective accompaniment to a range of dishes - "everything from greasy foods to fine cuisine," he added.

The scientific reason for this could lie in the make-up of the drink. Beer contains a much wider spectrum of ingredients than wine - most of which add something to the flavour. This variety of different compounds and flavours allows operators a wide variety of options when it comes to making perfect pairings.

An article published last year by the Morning Advertiser detailed several 'golden rules' for beer and food pairings. Firstly, categorise blonde and golden beers and lagers as similar to white wines, with dark, strong bitters and porters similar to reds.

Another consideration is to remember the 4 Cs - complement, coordinate, contrast and cleanse - and focus on achieving these ends when pairing beer with food. Complementing highlights a similar flavour or characteristic in the drink and dish, whilst coordinating balances the intensity between the two. Contrasting is the carefully planned meeting of two very different flavours, whilst cleansing cuts through oils and freshens the palate in anticipation of the next bite.

Villa made a few specific recommendations for pairing at the event, including: light, refreshing white beers with poultry, pork, seafood and spicy dishes such as Thai and Mexican food; fruit beers with game recipes and desserts; and amber or Irish red ales with steak - the acidity and carbonation of the beer cuts through the fat of the meat, providing plenty of flavour for the palate.

As customers get adventurous and embrace pairing beers with food, hospitality operators can demonstrate their creativity and showcase quality offerings like never before.

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