Note: This text is excerpted from Thomas Horne’s On Beer and Food (Gestalten, 2015).
Beer is food, the saying goes. Judging from the fact that malted grain is the primary ingredient, this isn’t actually far from the truth. This makes it both fun and simple to seek out delectable combinations of beer and food.
Malt is associated with bread, breakfast blends, roasted nuts, caramelized vegetables, and meat. Hops gives beer its bitterness, as well as aromas containing herbs, flowers, citrus, raisins, and pine needles. Yeast adds hints of fruit, spices, cinnamon, cloves, and black pepper. The manifold tastes and aromas from malt and hops, combined with the yeast, allow for such a rich diversity of beer that you can nearly always find a beer to accompany any type of meal.
Wine contains two elements which beer does not have, and which are essential when choosing a wine to suit a meal: the acidity in white wine; and the tannins, or bitterness, in reds. Acidity balances against sweetness, and tannins rinse fat from the mouth. On the other hand, beer has something that wine does not (with the exception of Champagnes and wines): carbonation. Carbonation functions in the same way for beer, rinsing fat from the mouth and posing a robust match for balancing out the sweet and heavy flavors in a meal.
In pairing beer with food, there are few right answers, and the most important thing is to try out all kinds of combinations while noting down what has worked well for you. Nonetheless, there are a few general rules that may be a good idea to follow.”
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Text by Thomas Horne, from On Beer and Food, Gestalten, 2015.