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How to Pair Beer and Food

Beer and food are not a typical pairing, but the right combinations can make a meal a culinary experience. The key to successful beer and food pairing is understanding the differences in beer styles and how these styles interact with certain types of foods.

Beer is a drink made from malted barley grains, hops and water. It’s also often flavored with spices, fruit or other chemical flavoring agents.

When paired with food, beer can complement, contrast or clean the palate. It’s also a great way to introduce new flavors to your taste buds.

Complementing Flavors: The key to successfully combining flavors is choosing flavors that complement each other and don’t overpower the other ingredients. For example, a chocolatey stout goes well with briny oysters or sweet wheat beer pairs nicely with spicy Thai food.

Contrasting Flavors: A good rule of thumb for contrasting flavors is to choose something that contrasts with the other ingredient in the dish. This can be a challenging thing to do, but it’s well worth the effort!

Cleansing the Palate: The acidity in beer cuts through fattiness and oiliness, and can also cut through heat or spice. So if you’re eating a hot dish like Korean fried chicken, a cold light beer will help cleanse your palate and prevent the heat from lingering.

For a quick beer-and-food pairing, try a light lager or ale and a dish like pizza, which requires something that’ll stand up to the acids in the tomato but not overwhelm it. It’s also helpful to keep in mind the degree of sweetness and bitterness in the beer to pair it appropriately with the food you’re eating.

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