Sunday, 15 March 2015

Beer and food: The verdict/the truth

I have blogged a fair bit over the years on various beer and food pairings. Much inspiration has been taken from the signature books written by the great masters of beer and food; Garret Oliver, Mark Dredge and to some extent Melissa Cole. However reading Ed's post it seems not all are convinced. Don't get me wrong, beer and food nirvana does exist. If you read into it, pick out the right dishes, seasoned the right way, with the right side dishes and right sauces to match a specific beer. But that doesn't really sum up the beer and food relationship. Let's put it this way.

Meet Mordue IPA with a roast beef, mustard and tomato sandwich served with cheesy puffs

This is actually a fairly decent pairing. The lovely succulent rare beef and texture of savoury seeded bread matches nicely with grainy malt and finished nicely with the tang of Amarillo hops. The whole thing is nice but honestly there isn't any awesome contrasting elements or harmonic alignment of the planets. Would it change anything if the beef was cooked longer? If I used a different IPA or swapped the mustard for horseradish? Well no. From experience the majority of beer and food pairings go this way. As long as you're in the right ballpark the experience is more or less good.

Let's take, for example, fish and chips. Fish and chips pairs great with a snappy blonde ale. It also goes with classic bitter, best bitter, English IPA, American IPA, German pilsner and (probably) a whole range of sour beers. As long as the beer has some 'snappy' element to it. Then take something like a strong blue cheese like stilton, a cheese that has almost endless beer pairings from imperial stouts, porters, strong bitters, strong amber ales, barley wines and even the more subtle options seem to tame the stuff down . If the beer has some substance. Stilton has been covered by an array of beer writers and all of them have that kind of idea.

The thing is, beer and food can be taken too seriously. It's also quite subjective. A mind-bendingly awesome pairing to one can be just ok to another. Beer and food is great with guidelines, but call them guidelines not rules. Beer and food have an almost endless compatibility to be enjoyed. Trying to analyse it too much doesn't really work, because beer and food more or less works without having to think about it too much.

7 comments:

Ed said...

Wise words Rob, I'll be a bit more chilled when I'm next a a beer and food pairing event.

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