Food and Beer Pairings: Expert Tips From Our Brewmaster
Our brewmaster, Larry Chase, isn’t just an expert on beer. He’s also savvy about food and is particularly fond of crafting beer and food pairings that bring out the best in both. We asked him to share a few pointers.
Why pair beer and food?
It creates new flavor experiences that are often more than the parts. Craft beers provide many flavor possibilities from the wide variety of malted barley, hops, carbonation and yeast used within and across beer styles. Microbrews also work with many foods that wine doesn’t pair so well with.
What are your general tips for pairing food and beer?
First, think about intensities. Combine foods that have a delicate flavor with lighter microbrews, and vice versa. You want the pairing to be complementary instead of having one element overwhelm the other. Think about flavors, too. For example, malted barley provides sweetness you can use to balance acidity and spicy heat. Alternately, use a beer’s bitterness to emphasize spicy heat. Balance sweet or rich food with hop bitterness, carbonation, alcohol and roasted malt flavors..
What pairings do you recommend for folks to try at home?
Bring out the cheese. Beer’s carbonation scrubs away the fat, readying your palate for more cheese. Blue cheeses have fun with IPA’s – the stronger the IPA, the stronger the cheese can be. Try mild white cheddar with a classic Pilsner. Then move to dessert. An easy one is brownies, paired with stout and a fruit-flavored lambic.
Any suggestions for combining craft beer and other ingredients for blended beverages?
A stout float is one of the tastiest and surprising blends. Our Christmas Eve tradition is to create a tomato beer with a low flavored pale lager, tomato juice and lots of spices, like a bloody mary.
- Double IPA: Black and Blue Burger, Spicy Thai Curry
- Amber Ale: Charbroiled 5-Spice Ginger Teriyaki Ribs, Bread Pudding
- Pilot Rock Pale Ale: Sauteed Veggie Wrap, Cobb Salad
- Oatmeal Stout: Sweet Potato Curry Fries, Stir Crazy Black Chocolate Cake
- Noble Stout: Saturday breakfast, especially bacon
What’s one of the most surprising – but delicious – pairings you’ve tried?
I helped host a summer beer and food pairing a few years ago. Being a hound for basil, I topped a water cracker with a few lemon basil leaves and chevre. This was paired with a Hefeweizen. People often enjoy a slice of lemon with hefeweizen, a flavor which the lemon basil brought forth. The creamy chevre played along with the Hefeweizen’s unfiltered texture and added a tanginess to its banana-like character. It was yummy.
A classic pairing that gets at the essence of umami is fresh oysters and stout. The stout’s roasted barley balances the oysters’ brininess. Together, the two create a new flavor sensation that’s heavenly.
Thanks Larry. We’re excited to mix and match across the brewery and restaurant menu, and explore the options at home, too. How about you? Feel free to share your favorite beer-food pairings and any questions in the comments section.