Pairing food and beer is universal.
Maria Halldén and Christopher J. Bartis
FOOD AND BEER SCHOOL AT THE STOCKHOLM BEER FESTIVAL
At Food Loves Beer, we've known all along that when it comes to food pairings, craft beer has the same gastronomical worth as wine. This knowledge is shared by fellow craft beer fans, and also by Michel Jamais, a renowned beverage lecturer, writer, chef and sommelier in Sweden. We were lucky enough to hear Michel’s inspiring and informative thoughts on food and beer pairing at the Stockholm Beer Festival several weeks ago. An innovator in beverage pairing, Michel sold 8-course tasting menus with beer as the key ingredient in the 90s. Still, the restaurateurs paired all the meals with wine because in those days you were expected to drink wine with fine food. However, in recent years, beer has gained world-wide respect as a versatile food-friendly beverage.
In fact, it's actually much easier to pair beer with certain dishes. Beer has a milder acidity and does not have tannins. Beer also has a variety of different flavors, which means it partners better with a variety of foods. For instance, the umami flavors of Szechuan-fried tuna with a sweet mango sauce and fish stock causes white wine to taste bitter and red wine metallic. When paired with a big bold American IPA, like Sierra Nevada Torpedo, however, it’s a perfect match!
Umami you ask? Maybe we got ahead of ourselves. Basically, our tongue can taste five different things: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami. Umami, literally translated as "pleasant savory taste," was recognized in 1985 as the fifth basic taste and can be found in things like soy, cheese, tomatoes, beans, and a variety of aged and fermented foods. By identifying the tastes found in the food you're serving, you can more easily match them with a beer having similar tastes. You should also take into account the texture and spiciness of a dish.
So where were we? Right, wine isn’t always best with food. The tannins in red wines don’t work well with bitter and spicy tasting dishes. However, the dry, sour and fruity flavors of spontaneously fermented beers lend themselves well to dishes like this. A Belgian gueze goes well with lightly smoked char with summer greens and poached quail eggs. And if duck confit is on your menu, why not try Kriek Boon, a lambic made with 250 grams of whole cherries for every liter of beer.
Sweet foods can accentuate a beer's bitterness, so it’s always best to pair them with beers that aren't very bitter, like hefeweizen or wit beers. Another idea is to match the sweetness in food to the sweetness and maltiness in a beer. For example, with desserts, especially chocolate ones, Michel suggests trying something like Tokyo, an 18.2% rich and malty oak-aged stout from Brew Dog. We wholeheartedly agree, and we also enjoy desserts with styles like barley wine, chocolate stout and English-style porters.
Another tip is to break down a dish into separate elements. Take smoked salmon, for instance. Your brain understands how flavors of smokiness and salmon fit together, so how about drinking a smoky rauchbier with a salmon dish? Another idea might be to marinate the salmon in soy, and serve it with a dark lager or porter, where the soy acts as the bridge into similar flavors found in these beers.
Mirroring is also a very good technique when it comes to matching flavors in beer and food. You want to mirror the flavor in the dish with the ones in the beer. For instance, with flavors like toast, croutons, and sautéed butter, light to medium dark malt beers work well. Try dark roasted malt beers with grilled foods or foods that contain nuts, coffee, or dark chocolate. When serving foods with citrus, passion fruit and mango, or herbs like parsley and basil, pair them with a hoppy beer. The secret is to find aromas and ingredients which complement, and mirror each other well.
While we hope these pairing tips are helpful, don’t limit yourself to these suggestions. Everyone’s taste preferences are different. The best way to find the perfect pairing is through trial-and-error, and with the wide array of complex flavors in beer, and the number of craft breweries available, the choices and combinations are almost unlimited. So experiment. Have fun. Be inventive and adventurous. Just remember, food really does love beer!
The comfort food of barrel-aged beers.
Food Loves Beer Editors
CAPTAIN LAWRENCE SMOKE FROM THE OAK
The current offering from Captain Lawrence's Smoke From The Oak series is an imperial porter aged in apple brandy barrels. The beer is a dark cola color, with aromas of smoked caramel, vanilla, and wood. Unlike some smoked ales in which the smoke dominates and often overpowers, the flavor of SFTO is a beautiful symphony of balance. Creamy toffee, chocolate, and vanilla reach the taste buds first, followed by toasted oak, fruit, and the comforting smoke of a dancing campfire. Warming alcohol draws a touch of sweetness from the barrel, and the finish is rich and complex with just the right hop bitterness.
Serve in a snifter or goblet at 50-55 F.
Suggested Food Pairings: The deep complexity of Smoke From The Oak is the prefect foil to fondue, smoked bluefish, and apple bread pudding.
Food Loves Beer taste tested and recommended.
Dress up your table in boo-tiful style.
Food Loves Beer Editors
12 IDEAS FOR A TRÈS CHIC HALLOWEEN TABLE
Halloween decor doesn't have to be about orange and black. Here's a contemporary palette of black and white with just a touch of bling. From simple and stylish to quirky and whimsical, these looks will give your table setting an eerie, yet sophisticated vibe. Plus, you can always add pops of color with all the sweet treats.
1. Sur La Table Spider Web Table Runner
2. Porcelain Black and White Chevron Plate by Parlane
3. Sur La Table Bistro Round Salad Plates, Set of 4
4. Sur La Table Spider Web Napkins, Set of 4
5. Kim Seybert Spider Beaded Burst Napkin Ring Platinum, Set of 4
6. Dress My Cupcake Stamped Wooden Cutlery Set, 18-Pack
7. Striped Ivory/Black Taper Candles by Ana Candles
8. Areaware Distortion Candlestick, Black
9. Sur La Table Black Glass Cake Stand
10. Sur La Table Chalkboard Pumpkin
11. Dress My Cupcake Black Chevron Vintage Paper Straws, 50-Pack
12. Sur La Table White Pumpkin Tureen with Ladle
A day at the world's third largest beer festival.
STOCKHOLM BEER AND WHISKEY FESTIVAL
For the twenty-third year in a row, the Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival treated the public to international competitions, courses, tastings, master classes, food and much more. The festival is the third largest beer festival in the world, and this year more than 37,000 visitors attended over two weekends. Food Loves Beer was there, of course, together with a lot of other friendly beer lovers and brewers, surrounded by some of the best beers in the world. It doesn't get much better than that!
Blueberry Bulldog - "Mother's Little Bulldog", a Blueberry IPA from Gotlands brewery, was one of the many fruit beers on offer.
Finn Brown Ale - A first at this year's festival was the new Swedish microbrewery hall, dedicated to small scale, up-and-coming Swedish breweries. That's where Brewhouse Finn was located, but size didn't prevent their Brown Ale from raking in two medals: a gold for Best Swedish Draught Beer, regardless of style, and a silver for Best modern-style session ale.
Flying High - It's a beer-tastic jungle out there, and even if your microbrewery is putting out good beers, you need to work hard to get noticed. And for Flying Brewery out of Dalarna, Sweden, marketing's a breeze! Their bottles, packaging, coasters and posters all feature beautifully-drawn aviators, each representing a different beer.
Oppigårds - Sylvia Falkeström pours a White Wachdog IPA while she tells us about how Swedish craftbrewers are banding together against established brewery giants, in the hopes of together gaining a larger market share. They took home 4 medals this year, and in 2013 they won more gold medals than any other brewery at the festival!
Important Importers - Galatea Spirits AB is the industry-leader in imported beer in Sweden and is also the largest beer importer in all of Scandinavia. Located smack in the middle of the grand hall they had over 75 beers available, from countries such as the USA, Belgium, Germany and England.
Sensational Collaboration - In August, Grant McCracken from Sam Adams jumped aboard the collaboration express and came to Sweden to brew with Jessica Heidrich of St Eriks. Their creation, Transatlantic, is a Belgian Red Strong Ale made with Swedish lingonberries and American cranberries. It made its world premier at the festival, and was for us, the most exciting beer of the evening!
It's For The Folks - "Folk beer" is a truly Swedish phenomena. While "Strong beers" are only available through the state-run liquor monopoly, folk beer (between 2.25 and 3.5%) can legally be sold at supermarkets. In Sweden you can find 3.5% variants of everything from Guinness, to Pilsner Urquell. But none of those stood a chance against Södra Maltfabriken, who won 3 different folk beer medals! But don't call them lightweights, their 7% IPA won them a silver!
Food Loves Guinness - Imagine our delight to find that at least one food truck parked in the festival's outdoor food court was cooking with beer! We opted for the healthy alternative and gobbled down some delicious Guinness-battered mushrooms! Yum!
Brutal Brewing - Brutal brewing is controlled and operated by employees of Spendrups (the largest Swedish-owned brewery in Sweden) on a “free time” basis. You could say they are like gypsy brewers who never have to move. They all have their regular day jobs at Spendrups, and then they have fun creating their own great beers in the evening! Their Pistonhead Dark, a festival-only brew, took home bronze in the Best Swedish draught beer regardless of style.
Black Magic - Sigtuna Brewhus is good at a lot of things, but it has to be said that they are GREAT at porters and stouts. Two years in a row they won Best Swedish Microbrew of the Year, voted by the Swedish microbrewers association! So of course we had to try both winners: Midvinterblot Imperial Porter (2014) and Bourbon Imperial Stout (2013).
No tricks, but plenty of treats as you taste and learn about fall's best craft brews!
Food Loves Beer Editors
NYC CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL – AUTUMN HARVEST
The NYC Craft Beer Festival Autumn Harvest tasting will showcase fall releases from 75 of America’s best craft breweries, with approximately 150 selections, along with wonderfully prepared food from Morris Grilled Cheese, The Stand, and Bill’s Meatballs. All menu items were chosen to pair with this fall’s craft beer selections. Another exciting highlight of this year's event is the Craft Concierge Center, a craft beer-focused information center. Plus, if you attend on Halloween night in costume, you'll be eligible for a chance to win one of three cash prizes.
Want to get in on the fun and experience top-shelf American craft brewing? Join us at the NYC Craft Beer Festival Autumn Harvest. Tickets are on-sale now! For more information, visit nyccraftbeerfest.com.
Who: The Hand Crafted Tasting Company
What: The annual NYC Craft Beer Festival – Autumn Harvest tasting
When: Friday, October 31 and Saturday, November 1, 2014
Where: Lexington Avenue Armory (68 Lexington Ave.) in Manhattan
Find more beer and food events on our Datebook page.
Turn these versatile cooking greens into a soup.
COLLARD GREENS AND BLACK-EYED PEA SOUP
Most people think of collards as a Southern soul-food dish cooked with fatty meats like ham hocks, pork neck or fatback. Though the vegetable is a wonderful vehicle for pork fat (what isn't?), it is actually quite nutritious and tastes great when cooked in other, healthier ways like this collard greens and black-eyed pea soup.
Total Time: 45 minutes
Suggested Beer Pairing: Serve with an ESB, brown ale or porter.
Food Loves Beer taste tested and recommended!