As the snow starts to linger around the ground longer, and the sun is only out for what seems like a few hours, it’s easy to start day dreaming of warmer days, and sitting outside in the sun. Sitting in the sun with a cold (but not too cold) and refreshing Hefeweizen. While in this dream land, you put your tall Bavarian glass down next to a plate of fresh peel’n’eat shrimp. Perfect. sigh.
Since we have the pleasure of living in Michigan, we obviously have quite a ways to go until that dream is realized. But it’s time to replace that image with the dream sitting inside near a crackling fire, and drinking a hearty Scotch Ale in between bites of a warm and comforting Beef Stew (and hey, make the beef stew WITH beer. Here’s a great recipe from Esquire Magazine), or even a nutty English-style Brown Ale with a sharp cheddar cheese.
Sure a beer on its own is great, but few things are as wonderful as eating a a great meal while washing it down with a complimenting beer, no matter what the season. Wine has traditionally been known as the food-pairing beverage, but as beer dinners and great craft beers become more prevalent, it’s obvious that malts and hops are catching up the the grapes.
A few rules of thumb from Beerutopia
Match strength with strength. Intensity of flavor may involve many aspects: alcoholic strength, malt character, hop bitterness, sweetness, richness, roastiness and so on.
Find harmonies. Combinations often work best when they share some common flavor or aroma elements.
Consider sweetness, bitterness, carbonation, heat (spice) and richness. Specific characteristics of food and beer interact with each other in predictable ways. Taking advantage of these interactions ensures that the food and beer will balance each other, each giving you a desire for a taste of the other.
For a VERY detailed approach to food and beer pairing, check out this chart created by Craftbeer.com
Looking for a more “no brainer” approach to food and beer? Try any of these foods that are just screaming for a beer: Mussels, Burgers, Oysters on the half shell, Sausages, any well-made Cheese (don’t try it with anything that says “cheese flavored product”, something tells us it won’t be very good), Pretzels, Chocolate, Mashed Potatoes, any kind of thick/rich Soup or Stew, and Grilled Vegetables.
Lucky for us we have plenty of great restaurants in Kalamazoo that not only have great beer on tap, but offer great beer-pairing food as well. Do you have any favorite food/beer pairings?