Before we start talking specifics, it is important to understand some basic concepts and this week I will introduce basic pairing categories. Beer and food pairings will likely fall into three different categories: complementary flavor pairings, contrasting flavor pairings and complex flavor pairings.
Complementary flavor pairings occur when the beer and food share a similar taste profile and build upon each other or resonate with each other to create a more intense flavor. An example of a complementary food pairing would be pairing an American wheat ale with Buratta cheese. The subtle hops, fruity esters and creamy texture of the beer enhance the cream filled Buratta’s texture and flavors.
Contrasting flavor parings occur when the beer and food flavors work against each other and keep any one flavor profile from dominating. A good example of a contrasting flavor pairing is hoppy flavor pale ale with savory foods like pizza or burgers. The hops and the carbonation cut through the grease and cleanse and refresh the palate.
Complex flavor parings happen when the beer complements and contrasts with the food. A good example of complex flavor pairings would be pairing an American amber ale with a spicy meat chili. The contrasting malty amber ale will tamp back the spices while the toasty malt accentuates the browned meat. This example is all the more complex because the carbonation will cut through the chili spices and savory oils and lift them off your tongue refreshing your palate before the next bite