The complexity of beer is vast, as there are numerous ingredients that create a seemingly endless array of taste profiles. Food in itself brings forth a variety of tastes that can either complement a beer or create an unpleasant contrast that takes away from the entire experience. Let's dive into some top beer terms, how to truly choose complementary ones to enjoy with a popular bar and grill foods.
Beer Buzzwords Every Pub Prowler Should Know
Understanding the key flavor profiles of popular beers can help you make the most of every experience to the local bar and grill with a cold one and a bit of grub. Top buzzwords include the following.
- Light: Low in calories, light beers tend to finish clean and crisp for a refreshing taste.
- Dark: While not necessarily dark, the longer roasting time of these brews tend to give them a darker hue with a sweet, rich, nutty flavor.
- Malt: Malts boast roasted barley grains and have a caramel taste that's soft on the palate.
- Bitter: Bitterness is common in beer, but the level of it will depend on style and brewing methods.
- Hops: Often utilized as a term for bitterness, hops are actually very versatile and range from bitter to fruity and flowery in nuance.
With these catchwords in mind and an idea of their flavors, let's explore some great grill foods to pair them with.
Pairing Beer and Food with Style in Mind
While there aren't any set rules for pairing ale and eats (because you like what you like), there are a few combinations of the two that appeal to the masses. Here are some general guidelines touted by culinary and craft brew pros.
Consider Contrast – Those who love a stark distinction between flavors might want to choose a food with a predominantly strong flavor like oily, sweet, or rich paired with a medium-bodied or dark brew. The goal is to not overwhelm the food's flavor, but give the palate some contrast.
Examples: Pair stouts with shellfish or Mexican foods while considering amber ales or brown ales with fish, smoked meats, Italian fare, and fried foods.
Complementing Flavors – One of the most simple ways to get a great pairing is by ordering similarly flavored items. Rich or heavy foods will go great with heavier beers with robust bitters.
Examples: porters and stouts are amazing with heavy, strong foods, and lighter fare like fish and salad complement light beers. Feeling spicy or craving sweets? Go for a smooth and hoppy wheat beer.
Cleansing Pairings – Cleanse the palate between sips and bites by refreshing the mouth post-consuming overpowering flavors that are greasy or extra spicy. Light beers will help tamp the heat and let the next bite begin truly to taste.
Pro Tip: This works similarly in reverse, whereas a bitter India Pale Ale (IPA) can be cut through with salty nuts fatty foods, steak, and smoked meat cuts.
With these simple pairing ideas and a few terms under your belt, be sure to use this wisdom wisely at a local bar and grill to explore matches you'll love.
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