My Vision for the Future
You get a table at a fancy restaurant and after you order your meal the server asks if you’d like a drink with the meal. Not knowing what will go well with your meal, you ask what the server would suggest to be paired with your order. Unsurprisingly the server suggests a wine, but in my vision for the future, the server also suggests a beer.
While this scene currently happens from time to time it is still a rarity. This is a travesty because beer can be paired with food similarly to how wine is currently used. While wine has done a valiant job over the years complimenting food, it is time for beer to at least share the spotlight.
The easiest way to pair beer with food is to cook with the beer and then drink that beer while eating. I’ve done with when I worked on the Cooking with Beer posts (1 2) and it works great. As much as I enjoy cooking with beer, it doesn’t always work. So how do I know what beer should go with which meal? There are some suggestions out there (e.g. hoppy beers go with hearty meals) and events like SAVOR that attempt to pair food with beer, but they tend to fall short on any definitive answers. This is where the fun comes in: experimentation. Like many other aspects of beer it is best to just try pairing different beers with different meals. My only advice is to not let the beer overpower the taste of the food.
Now this is where chefs and their restaurants can do a great deal of help in this aspect because their palates are tuned with their thought process of how the meal should flow. Unfortunately many people (chefs included) still view beer as a lesser beverage and this has slowed the integration of beer into the restaurant industry. This is mainly due to the lack of knowledge and lack of trying different beers…basically thinking all beer tastes like the bland macro lights – I’m looking at you InBev. There is some hope though: with their variety of beers, the Belgians have been leading the way with beer pairing, but with the vast range of flavorful craft brews it is time for everyone catch up.
So my hope is that I’ll be able to go to a restaurant order a steak and have an IPA suggested, then for dessert have a coffee stout recommended to go with my chocolate cake.