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The Basics of Food and Beer Pairing

When it comes to food and beer, the brewpub scene has more options than ever. But that also means a lot of head-scratching when it comes to pairing dishes and beers. Beer aficionados often throw around jargon that can leave even the most educated consumer stumped. And while it’s always fun to try something new, knowing some basics can help make the experience more enjoyable and less overwhelming.

Ingredients

The main ingredients of any beer are pure water, malted barley, hop flowers and yeast. The only other ingredient that is sometimes added to a beer is carbon dioxide, which is introduced naturally through fermentation.

Beer can be brewed with a variety of grains including wheat, rye and oats. Each grain imparts a different flavor and texture to the finished product. Wheat beers tend to have a more creamy mouthfeel, while rye and oats have a unique spicy or nutty taste.

Brewing Process

Beer is made by combining malted barley with water, boiling and fermenting. The sugars are converted to alcohol by the yeast, and the remaining solids are known as wort. After lautering and boiling, hops are added to the wort to add bitterness and act as a natural preservative.

Many beers are aged or conditioned in their vessel, adding an additional layer of complexity to the beverage. This process also allows for the growth of microorganisms that can produce diacetyl, a buttery or buttered-like flavor, which is often desirable in some styles of beer such as lambic.

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