Per­fect Part­ners: Ame­ri­can Craft Beer and Food

The ger­man trans­la­ti­on of this arti­cle is avail­ab­le at

By-​lined to Adam Dulye, Exe­cu­ti­ve Chef for the Bre­wers Asso­cia­ti­on, the not-​for-​profit tra­de asso­cia­ti­on dedi­ca­ted to small and inde­pen­dent Ame­ri­can craft bre­wers, one of the world’s lea­ding experts on beer and food pairings

Beer and food pai­ring in Ame­ri­ca is high­ly advan­ced with 88% of craft beer drin­kers enjoy­ing beer with their meal at least some­ti­mes and 63% of peop­le selec­ting the beer they are going to drink based on their choice of meal. The diver­si­ty of beers styles, high stan­dards of qua­li­ty and end­less inno­va­ti­on by craft bre­wers make Ame­ri­can craft beer the per­fect part­ner for almost any food dish. Beer with food is a gro­wing trend, near­ly half of all craft beer drin­kers say they drink craft beer with food now more than a cou­p­le of years ago.

In Ame­ri­ca beer and food pai­ring has reached a who­le new level so try my top six tips below to ele­va­te and enhan­ce your beer and your food pai­ring expe­ri­ence eit­her when expe­ri­men­ting at home or going out to eat:

  1. Match strength with strength. Pair deli­ca­te dis­hes with ligh­ter Ame­ri­can craft beers and stron­gly fla­vou­red dis­hes with inten­se, more asser­ti­ve beer styles.
  2. Tas­te, tas­te, tas­te! Tas­te is per­so­nal – expe­ri­ment with fla­vours and ingre­dients to find what works for you and be adventurous
  3. Use the domi­nant fla­vour or ingre­dient in a dish as the star­ting point. Hops are ins­a­nely food-​friendly and will go with almost any food.
  4. Think of beer as just ano­t­her ingre­dient in a reci­pe, except it’s in a glass not on the plate
  5. Avoid incor­po­ra­ting Ame­ri­can craft beer wit­hin a reci­pe becau­se the coo­king pro­cess dri­ves off fla­vour, and depen­ding on the beer, may enhan­ce bitterness
  6. Foods with spi­ce, heat or aci­di­ty are a gre­at way to show­ca­se cer­tain beers – hops can calm heat and spi­ces, malt can balan­ce aci­di­ty while car­bo­na­ti­on can clean­se the palate

The­re are three main inter­ac­tions with beer and food pai­rings – com­ple­men­ting, con­tras­ting and cut­ting. For a dish to be com­ple­men­ta­ry you’re loo­king for har­mo­nious fla­vours bet­ween the ingre­dients and the craft beer eg. rou­la­den with a brown ale or Dub­bel or the light aci­di­ty of a wit­bier with a salad and vin­ai­gret­te dres­sing. Roas­ting or gril­ling will com­ple­ment the mal­ts used in the beer and bring out the Mail­lard reaction.

Con­tras­ting is the most chal­len­ging inter­ac­tion on the pala­te and works best when the domi­nant fla­vour of the dish con­trasts against the main fla­vour pro­fi­le of the beer eg. sweet v sour or bit­ter v sweet. A clas­sic examp­le is the tro­pi­cal fla­vour notes of an Ame­ri­can IPA with an inten­se­ly, hot pep­per spi­ced dish or curry.

Craft beer cuts through the fat of rich, suc­cu­lent and crea­my foods to clean­se the pala­te after every mouth­ful and lea­ve it fee­ling refres­hed, clean and rea­dy for the next bite. The bit­ter strength and astrin­gen­cy of hops lifts fat from the pala­te and a sweet finish cuts away aci­dic fla­vours, lea­ving a plea­sant sen­sa­ti­on in the mouth. Sour and tart fla­vours can cut away suga­ry and frui­ty notes and the scrub­bing effect of car­bo­na­ti­on dif­fu­ses the rich­ness of the food.

Beer styles can be bro­ken down into six fla­vour profiles:

  1. Crisp & Clean eg. Pils­ners, Hel­les, Kölsch, Blond Ale

Refres­hing, deli­ca­te and slight­ly dry the­se styles work well with light salt, vege­ta­ble fla­vours or com­mon citrus notes that natu­ral­ly com­ple­ment their fla­vour pro­fi­le. Car­bo­na­ti­on in beer has a scrub­bing effect that will clean­se your pala­te. Pair with spatz­le, knö­del, sauer­kraut, vege­ta­bles, pretzel

  1. Hop­py & Bit­ter eg. Pale Ale, IPA, DIPA, Amber Ale

Hops con­tri­bu­te the majo­ri­ty of aro­ma and bit­ter­ness found in most beers styles. They respond well to pai­ring with fat­ty foods as the hops do here what car­bo­na­ti­on does in a ligh­ter style ie. clean­se the pala­te of over­whel­ming and inten­se fla­vours. The fla­vour pro­fi­le of this cate­go­ry can be ear­thy and bit­ter, pine and resin­ous or citrus, her­bal and flo­ral. They are gre­at with food that need a bit of com­pe­ti­ti­on on the pala­te, think spi­cy, fat­ty or aci­dic. The bit­ter­ness of hops lifts fat from the tongue lea­ving you rea­dy for the next bite
Pair with brat­wurst, cur­ry­wurst, cheese, car­rot cake

  1. Mal­ty & Sweet eg. Dub­bel, Dun­kel, Scotch Ale, Doppelbock

One of the deepest con­nec­tions bet­ween beer and food is the act of roas­ting, known as the Mail­lard reac­tion. Mal­ty and sweet beers deve­lop cara­mel fla­vours and sweet notes of nuts, tof­fee and dried fruit from the roas­ted mal­ts com­ple­ment foods that are roas­ted, cris­py or brow­ned. Pair with: schnit­zel, rou­la­den, duck , char­cu­te­rie, cheese, apfel­stru­del, stollen

  1. Rich & Roas­ty eg. Brown Ale, Stout, Por­ter, Schwarzbier

Inten­se­ly dark, rich fla­vours of barrel-​aged bour­bon, vanil­la, cho­co­la­te, cof­fee and some­ti­mes a smo­ky aro­ma, the­se beers work with dis­hes that have roas­ted fat such as red meats, nuts or cho­co­la­te. They’re gre­at with anything char­red, bar­be­cued, gril­led or with a clean, bri­ny finish such as oys­ters. When pai­ring, use ingre­dients that can stand up to the­se stron­ger styles of beer. Pair with: sauer­bra­ten, meat cas­se­ro­les, bar­be­cue, spi­cy food, oys­ters, chocolate/​coffee des­serts, chocolate

  1. Frui­ty & Spi­cy eg. Bel­gi­an Blon­de Ale, Wit­bier, Hefe­wei­zen, Sai­son, Tri­pel, Quadrupel

Fla­vours are main­ly dri­ven by yeast and can inclu­de notes of stone fruits, citrus, gin­ger, salt, bana­na or clove. Spi­cy aro­ma­tic foods that go well with rosé or white wine would be good accom­p­animents here and beers full of fruit and spi­ce are best with ingre­dients alrea­dy asso­cia­ted with tho­se fla­vours. Pair with: shell­fi­sh, sea­food, sushi

  1. Sour, Tart & Fun­ky – eg. Brett, Sour, Flan­ders Ale, Gose, Geu­ze, Lambic

Beers are often barrel-​aged and may have fruit or natu­ral sug­ars added. Farm­house, lea­ther, hay, grass and even wet socks may not sound appe­aling but if you like aci­dic, bio­dy­na­mic wines you’ll love the­se! They ran­ge from gent­le, light beers such as Ber­li­ner­Weis­se that are gre­at with rare or bare­ly coo­ked sea­food, to lam­bics or gueu­ze which may con­tain fruit, to Flan­ders Ale which may be a litt­le more vine­ga­ry but makes a gre­at sweet and sour sau­ce when redu­ced! Pair with ceviche, goa­ts cheese, crea­my des­serts, chees­e­ca­ke, cho­co­la­te gateau

For advice and assi­s­tance regar­ding beer and food pai­ring the Bre­wers Asso­cia­ti­on publis­hes Ame­ri­can Craft Beer and Food: Per­fect Com­pa­n­ions – a han­dy 12 page book­let detail­ing the basics of beer and food pai­rings. Down­load­a­ble free of char­ge here:

and „The Bre­wers Asso­cia­ti­on Gui­de to Ame­ri­can Craft Beer”:

More infor­ma­ti­on is avail­ab­le on

About the Bre­wers Association

The Bre­wers Asso­cia­ti­on (BA) is the not-​for-​profit tra­de asso­cia­ti­on dedi­ca­ted to small and inde­pen­dent Ame­ri­can bre­wers, their beers and the com­mu­ni­ty of brewing enthu­si­asts. The BA repres­ents 5,000-plus U.S. bre­we­ries. The BA’s inde­pen­dent craft bre­wer seal is a wide­ly adop­ted sym­bol that dif­fe­ren­tia­tes beers by small and inde­pen­dent craft bre­wers. The BA orga­ni­zes events inclu­ding the World Beer Cup℠Gre­at Ame­ri­can Beer Fes­ti­val®Craft Bre­wers Con­fe­rence & Bre­w­Ex­po Ame­ri­ca®SAVOR℠: An Ame­ri­can Craft Beer & Food Expe­ri­enceHome­brew ConNatio­nal Home­brew Com­pe­ti­ti­on and Ame­ri­can Craft Beer Week®. The BA publis­hes The New Bre­wer® maga­zi­ne, and Bre­wers Publi­ca­ti­ons™ is the lar­gest publis­her of brewing lite­ra­tu­re in the U.S.
Beer lovers are invi­ted to learn more about the dyna­mic world of craft beer at and about home­brewing via the BA’s Ame­ri­can Home­bre­wers Asso­cia­ti­on and the free Brew Guru™ mobi­le app. Fol­low us on Face­book, Twit­ter and Insta­gram.

Bre­wers Association
1327 Spruce Street
80302 Boul­der, Colo­ra­do, USA

For fur­ther press infor­ma­ti­on plea­se con­ta­ct Lot­te Peplow on 07973 698414

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