When it comes to pairing beer with food it is important to remember that there are no rules to follow and to experiment and have fun. That being said there are some recommendations to help you explore the endless pairings and possibilities to be had. When exploring what beers to pair with different food no one knows what you like better than you so stick with what you enjoy but at the same time don’t be afraid to try something new… you may just stumble upon a new favorite!
It is my personal preference to go with contrasting flavors more often rather than picking out commonalities when pairing. For instance bitter with sweet or sweet with sour. Sometimes it can be fine to pair similar flavors with each other but you have to be careful as too much of something can diminish you flavor pairing experience. For instance, if I was going to eat a spicy dish I may want to stay away from pairing it with a jalapeno beer and instead go with a more crisp, refreshing beer to offset the spiciness. Choosing to go with contrasting flavors when pairing beer with food can bring out different flavors in your beer or food that wouldn’t have tasted otherwise. However, the occasion often arises where I completely ignore this suggestion.
Choosing which beer to enjoy with your food can also be decided by matching similar flavors together. If you go this route you may find yourself having a Framboise Lambic with desert, a pumpkin ale with pumpkin cheesecake, or a smoked amber with some backyard Bar-B-Q. Sometimes going with this method can result in to much of one particular flavor and diminish the range of flavors you can experience with a dish.
Though there are no rules to strictly follow, and I encourage playing around with flavors, there are some constants to keep in mind. Beer pairs very nicely with cheese, contrasting flavors brings out complexity, and only you know what works for you. So, pop open a bottle or can, try something new and have a little fun. CHEERS!