The World is moving into a new age in which Beer is at the top of the food (pairing) chain. There is even a michelin star restaurant in New York, Luksus that is solely serving beer with twelve courses, paired by the house sommelier. Ten years ago you’d have been called mad to predict this but perhaps there’s a refined beer scene on the horizon in Ireland too.
The right beers can counterpart or counteract based on light/full body versus light/heavy food, being just the right match or contrast needed to complement the flavour profile of a dish. Beer’s carbonation refreshes taste buds as well as (if not better than) any sparkling wine could. Flavour wise, a dry stout goes great with a beef stew just as well as a malbec could, both are full bodied and bold enough in flavour to coexist with the dish. On the flip side of that, the acidity of a sour ale can take on the salty and strong flavours in mussels - maybe even better than a muscadet.
I’m going to just say it straight out; I think that beer is even better than wine for pairing with food. I do like wine and it’s not like it’s a competition (but if it was I’d put my money on beer). To encourage the “beer with food” culture here in Ireland, I’m going to post “beer with food” ideas that have worked for me. Starting with one that actually mixes beer into food!
Beer with food #1. The Beer Float.
Some people may have tried this but firstly I’d like to point out that it would be gross with any wine - red or white. Secondly, you’ve got to do it with a well crafted chocolatey stout or porter, I recently had honeycomb ice-cream with Whiplash scaldy porter brewed by Alex Lawes, the head brewer at Rye river brewery. This beer is chocolatey with hints of liquorice, far tastier than boring old chocolate syrup, seriously, I can’t recommended this enough! An amazing beer I've done this with is Boundary's filthy animal porter, it's inky and rich-perfect. To take it to another level, go to Johnnie Fox’s, order a bowl of Irish whiskey & brown bread ice-cream along with a pint of O’Hara’s stout (nitrogenated). When beer and whiskey flavours come together the real magic happens!
Maybe there is still a common perception that pairing drinks with food is exclusive to wine or liqueurs and spirits as accompaniment before/after. That is the norm in modern times and probably has been since people started fine dining. Having said that, in recent years, beer has been on the rise and now looks like a formidable contender. If you have any favourites or thoughts on this, I’d love to hear from you, feel free to comment below.