THE SCIENCE OF PAIRING BEER & FOOD
The human eye has an important role in the perception of colour, and this influences our idea of food flavour and a potential beer match
Sensory analysis takes us past this first response, examining how the food’s properties stimulate each of our senses through:
The appearance of food – using sight, hearing and touch
The flavour of food – using smell and taste
The odour of food – using smell.
All this before we’ve even swallowed a mouthful!
The culinary world has completely evolved to having an acceptance of pairing beer with everything from greasy foods to fine cuisine.
When matching beer and food it is critical not to out do each other.
Beer and food can be the perfect partners if they complement one another.
In all my beer and food pairing menus I have tried to stay true to these 4 keys in my pairing process.Begin with either a specific beer or food, then seek the ideal partner
My four keys are
LET THE STRENGTHS BE EQUAL
Delicate dishes work best with delicate beers, and flavoured foods demand assertive robust beers.As a chef I have seen that the Intensity of flavour is not any single thing, but a sum total of the taste experience. This is where the perfect beer nirvana is attained.
In beer it may involve alcoholic strength, malt character, hop bitterness, sweetness, richness,roasting notes and more. In food, richness , sweetness, cooking methods, spicing, texture and complexity all play a role.
LET THE CHOIR SING IN HARMONY
Combinations often work best when they share some
common flavour traits or aroma elements. The nutty caramel flavours of an amber ale span the middle ground between malt-forward and hoppy beers with a medium body and dry finish. That makes them flavourful enough to drink on their own but subtle enough to pair with foods such as a toffee cinnamon banana pie or a Golden Ale, with its inviting golden tones and a tantalising tropical aroma paired with poached king prawns with cocktail sauce. It takes your tastebuds on a vibrant flavour voyage.
CARBONATION EQUALS SPICE
Certain inert qualities of food and beer talk with each
other in specific, predictable ways. Taking advantage of these interactions
ensures that the food and beer will balance each other,
These are specific connections,different from the intensity-matching
mentioned above. Foods that have a lot of sweetness or
fatty richness (or both) can be matched by a various elements in beer: hop
bitterness, sweetness, roasted/toasted malt or alcohol. Carbonation is also
effective at cutting richness.Malty sweetness cools the heat, so if you’re leaning to a hoppy beer with spicy food, make sure it has plenty of malt as well.
CRAFT BEER IS ABOUT PUSHING THE BOUNDARIES
The modern day chef has realised there is a real need for fresh,clean and simple ingredients.
Just like the craft beer speaks for itself, the food must also be foundational.Great food produced at its optimum quality, make a food and beer pairing very special.
One good example is using an IPA to make a classic beer batter to fry fresh flatheads.The subtle sweetness of the fish with that crunch makes it so perfect with that citrus pine mouthfeel.
In conclusion, I think from a chef's vantage point,I am very grateful to the growth of the modern day brewery.I have been able to train my senses to understand the nuances of finding the ideal beer and food match.It is never perfected, but when we create magic with beer and food ,we create memories.
Thats what food and beer is all about .
Chef Sebastian Simon
Chef Sebastian is a culinary consultant based in Melbourne Australia .He is also a masterchef and chef instructor at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu Melbourne