Only with beer can chicken taste good – a sentiment shared by passionate beer drinkers.
Gourmet meals are enjoyed by many; when one thinks of the beverages served in a high class restaurant, wine comes to mind most frequently. A diner may choose a tasty liquer such as Drambuie or whiskey to enjoy with coffee after a fine meal. It brings to mind silk dresses, tuxedos, a night at the opera. Many traditionalists would be surprised to learn that beer is now on the fine dining menu.
Despite its sporty, pub-crawl, keg party reputation, beer has been transformed into a chilled, foamy beverage served among the elite. It is becoming commonplace for hosts and hostesses to wonder what beer to serve with the meal they will serve their guests. On recent observation at a restaurant, I saw the people at the next table peruse a list of beers, not wine.
What type of beer goes with the dishes served at dinner parties and in restaurants? There are many different types of beer: lager, ale, pilsner, brown, bock, porter and stout. How do these beers pair up with food? There are so many types of food to choose from: Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Japanese, British, German etc. The easy answer is to choose what you, the diner, believe to be a great taste match. Everyone’s tastes differ and there are enough choices to go around.
For those of you who are stuck and don’t know where to begin, the following is a good place to start.
One possibility is to choose a beer that matches the country of origin of the food being served. I recently went out for sushi and decided to have a Japanese beer with my tempura and maki. I have never tasted the beers from Japan before and I enjoy new experiences. I chose Kirin beer, which was a light, delicate beer ideally suited to the delicate tastes of sushi.
The Kirin website (www.kirin.com) claims their beer has complimented sushi for almost a century.
In Mexico and south western United States, some people like to drink chilli beer – a lager style beer that is rich, malty and roasty. This rather hot beer is the perfect match for spicy Mexican offerings such as burritos. I like to drink Corona beer with lime as it is the perfect match for natchos and tacos.
British beef and Yorkshire pudding go best with a stout beer like Guinness. Guinness itself is like a meal in a glass. A hearty meal tastes better with a hearty beer. A stout beer can also be paired with other heavier meals such as lasagne, pasta, pizza and game dishes.
Fish dishes demand a delicate beer mate – unless the fish is heavily battered and deep-fried. Fresh fish tastes best with a pilsner or a light lager. Fish and chips, British-style, can accompany a brown ale or a heavier lager.
Chicken tastes good with almost anything and the choice of beer depends on individual tastes. Dramatic-tasting chicken dishes, such as curried or Thai heavily-spiced chicken can be paired with stronger beers like a malty amber or a dry porter.
A roasted chicken might go well with a light lager or pilsner.
To end a dinner, diners may want to try dark ale, cream stout, Oatmeal Stout, Double Bock or Scotch Ale. All of these beers are heavy and sweet and would taste great with cheesecake or tortes. Imperial Stout needs a dessert made with chocolate as it is quite bitter and heavy.
If the dessert is light and fruity, perhaps a fruit-flavoured lambic would go well. Lambics are wheat beers produced in Belgium and some of them are flavoured with raspberry, cherry and peach. It is common sense that a fruity beer would pair well with a fruity dessert.
What an amazing, unique experience it would be to invite friends over for a six-course meal using various beers for each course, pairing each dish with an appropriate beer. It would be the dinner party talked about for years to come.