Combining ales and food can be determined by the local cuisine, local beer and they often naturally fit and complement one another. For example, Asian dishes fit with tropical flavour Pacific pale ales. English ales (bitter) will be good with meat pies (including the Shepard’s pie), and fit in perfectly with hamburgers and the famous British fish & chips.
Light ale can be combined with a very broad palette of flavours – from spicy Indian cuisine to a variety of meat, fish and poultry dishes. The tunes of bright hop perfectly complement the savoury and spicy taste of meals. Bitterness of hops contrasts with the smoky flavour of charcoal-grilled dishes. It blends well with blue cheeses. It is also suitable for bright desserts like chocolate cake or the French crème brulee. Food taste should not be concealed by the intense hop flavour and aroma.
Bitters can be complemented with most of the oven-baked meat dishes with a crispy crust, burgers, and meat pies. The American amber ale has a wide range of matching foods: chicken, seafood, burgers, and spicy meals. American wheat ale will fit in with very light foods: green salad, sushi, and vegetarian dishes. Indian pale ale will fit to tangy and hot foods. The classic combination with curry dishes – hop bitterness contrasts with spicy, hot food, and smoky flavours. Double IPA will fit with dried and smoked beef, charcoal-grilled lamb, southern fried chicken and blue cheese.
Strong light drinking ale is used with satiating, heavy, hearty food such as roast beef, lamb, or game. Hot and strong barley wine will maintain the balance with blue mold cheese with its bright aroma and intense flavour. It will be good with hard cheeses or desserts. Scotch ale – with grilled meat: beef, lamb, and game, also with smoked salmon.
Belgium is proud of its beer traditions, beer in this country is closely connected with food, and generally used with all dishes and even desserts. One could say it was the Belgian beer that developed and promoted the popularity of the combination of beer and foods, and the rising trend of themed dinners and beer in sommelier restaurants.
Intense taste of beef stew will fit to Franco-Belgian Dubbel type of beer. This dark Belgian ale will go well with other meat stews, grilled meats and vegetables, steak, or hot-smoked pork ribs. Bright Belgian tripel ale is recommended for spicier foods such as fried pheasant and turkey meat. Witbier type beer blends well with light seafood dishes, a classic combination are stewed mussels. Pair it with fresh mozzarella, brie or other soft cheese. If these cheeses have more intense or more spicy taste – taste them with the Franco-Belgian saison type of beer, which is also good with abundantly spiced chicken.
German wheat is in perfect harmony with light meals: salad, seafood, or sushi. Classic hefeweizen combination – with German white sausage weisswurst, also with fresh mozzarella, brie or other soft cheese. Dunkelweizen is good for rich salad, grilled chicken or pork with gravy or thick sauce. Weizenbock should be used when eating roast pork or beef, smoked ham, or wild poultry. Hybrid kölsch beers (ale fermented at lager-like temperatures) will fit with lighter food – chicken, salad, salmon and other fish dishes, crabs and shrimps. Also with Brätwurst sausages, eggs, and particularly well with bacon, because the sweetness of beer makes a nice contrast with the meat salinity. Hybrid Dusseldorf altbier is recommended with roasted beef, or stuffed Mexican burrito. Wheat beer is also good with Mexican dishes – beer carbonation is appropriate to reduce the fat content of cheese and avocado, as well as starch content of black beans and rice. Coriander matches with a hint of herbs in beer, paprika, cumin and cayenne pepper matches with pungent beer, therefore you should be testing German ales with Mexican quesadilla, fried baby corn or guacamole sauce.
These dark and rich beers are good with charcoal-grilled or smoked meat, as well as extensively stewed meat or meaty soups. By combining them with sweets, choose coffee or chocolate-based desserts. They will be also good with dishes flavoured with nuts – coconut, peanuts or roasted almonds.
Porters make a good combination with grilled or smoked meat, especially pork, steak, as well as sausage or bacon. They complement the taste of chocolate desserts or coffee flavours and soft, cream cheeses, for example, gorgonzola.
Stout highlights the dishes with chocolate, nuts and caramel notes, and complements cheeses. Like porter, it goes well with oysters and other molluscs and scallops. Rich and bright stouts, such as double stout, will fit with blue cheese snacks. Only with smoked duck and goose liver (foie-gras). Gouda type of cheese together with stout rich with caramel and roasted coffee flavours can be a great alternative to dessert. However, be careful – this beer will “suffocate” any subtle dish. Sweet stout should be combined with the spicy food of the East Asian cuisine. Stout with the hints of vanilla and coffee is used with fruit desserts. As porter is good with chocolate, so stout is well with cocoa pudding with fruit. Meanwhile, vanilla in curd pies go hand-in-hand with the vanilla flavours in beer and highlight the sweetness of stout
This beer can complement light, fruity dishes. Lambic beer should be used with pungent French cheeses. To make it easier to combine lambic with food, think of it as of champagne. Combine lambic without fruit like dry champagne, while fruity lambic will match the sweet champagne. If you like this type of beer, you'll notice that there are very few dishes indeed to which lambic would not be acceptable. It is especially good with salads and desserts, and quite palatable with cream sauces and the Indian cuisine. Combine fruit in lambic beer with the fruits used in desserts. Also, sweet fruity lambic will fit with duck, geese, chocolate, cheese cakes and pastries. From all cheeses, choose goat cheese, feta cheese, mascarpone, and may be blue cheddar. Gueuze lambic (mixed young and more matured lambic beer) will fit with acid-containing, pickled and marinated dishes, seafood, or smoked fish, also with a mild and citrus coloured salads. Finally, lambic beer is ideal as an aperitif.