Don't you just hate those wine snobs? Geez, so uppity about the different grapes and countries and "finishes". Pfft! Don't get me wrong, I love wine. And I love the kinds I love. But sometimes beer goes better. As a rule, lighter beers taste best with lighter food; heavier more stout (more alcohol) brews should be shared with heavier meals. If you do enjoy wine, think of it like this: lagers are like a white wine, and ales are like red. Go by that rule, and you know that lagers go with fish and poultry, while ales are better when paired with red meat and stronger cheeses. But a beer is not a beer is not a beer. Ales can be light "pales" or dark "browns", so think about how “hoppy” the beer is as well. Suite101.com says, "India Pale Ales brewed in the American style frequently have a strong taste of hops, and go particularly nicely with salads and citrus-flavored dishes. They are also a good choice with veggie platters or casual chip-and-dip or cracker-type appetizers. Many pale ales contain citrus flavors themselves, so they pair quite well with lighter fish or shellfish dishes. Try them out with buttery or creamy sauces, as they nicely cut the bulky texture of such rich tastes. English-style Pale Ales are generally more balanced and may therefore be more versatile than American brands." Darker ales are heavier and a lot of times more bitter, and they are better enjoyed with beef or other heartier game. Then there are malts. They go super well with spicy foods. Suite101.com reports, "experts recommend Scotch ale with Mexican dishes or any brown ale matched with Thai cuisine. Beers with a lot of malt flavor may accompany any grilled, roasted, or smoked meats and poultry, though. The highly malty Oktoberfest ale is said to go excellently with pork." They also advise to choose a lower alcohol-by-volume beer to accompany strongly spiced dishes. (Alcohol and spice are a bad mix for some wicked heartburn.) Sweeter beers, though, you can drink with tomato-based sauces or even lemon chicken. And if you're in the mood for oysters, you can try those with the more bitter kinds of stout. Finally, some people like wheat beers alongside a creamy herb and Parmesan risotto, served with lobster or shrimp for something truly palate-pleasing.
Beer and Cheese: Strong beers ------------ strong cheeses (Stilton or Limberger) Pilsner or pale ale ----- American or any blander cheese. Dark ales pair ---------- Colby or sharp Cheddar. Barley wine ales -------- Cheddar, gorgonzola, or even bleu cheese Wheat beers ------------- Feta or goat cheeses (some wheat beers tend to be sweet, so test before you serve!)
Beer with Dessert: Rich, aged “sipping beers” like a barley wine ale ---- chocolate truffle or cake. Dark, sugary stouts or porter ----- cheesecake or other creamy treats. Some of the more complex beers can actually substitute for dessert; as they have such definite and appealing aromas and tastes of molasses, fruits, nuts, caramel, and chocolate.
Wintertime Beers and Food Special winter beers are usually ales and can be dark or light. They age well, and are a pleasantly warming treat on a cold night.
Why not have some friends over, tell everyone to bring a beer they've never had, and have a beer tasting? Or, these days, a lot of supermarkets will offer a "sampler" six pack. How about trying a few new brews?