The pairings of beer and gastronomy
The discovery of a new pleasure
The world of gastronomy contains endless nuances, perceptions, aromas and tastes. So many, that it is difficult to speak with exactitude of the pairing, of the intimate and harmonic union between two elements. But beyond this encyclopedic definition, the true sense of the pleasure of gastronomic tasting hides. The perfect combination that allows you to savor and enjoy both food and drink with your five senses.
There are no rules, no scientific explanations, no reasoning Technical explain why many combinations can be glorious meeting points between the pleasure of eating and the pleasure of drinking. However, and even taking into account the simplest and most traditional rule, which is to be carried away by the intuition and personal taste of each one, this guide contains some suggestions that will help us discover the pairings between beer and beer. gastronomy.
For its preparation, it has had the collaboration of professional experts in the world of gastronomy who with different methodologies found surprising pairings.
Jose Carlos Capel, food critic of the newspaper El País and member of the Royal Academy of Gastronomy, he directed a panel of tastings in which different varieties of beer were analyzed in combination with a multitude of dishes from our gastronomy.
For her part, Rosa Tovar, professor of Gastronomy, carried out an exhaustive bibliographic research attending to the more or less established criteria when it came to finding the perfect companion for each dish:
- That the flavors of the drink do not stand out over those of the food, and vice versa.
- That there is a balance between aromas and flavors. The drink can balance the stronger flavor or aroma of the dish.
- Or, that causes the contrast. Pairing by contrast of opposite poles, as long as there is no winner, but the fight ends in a draw.
The knowledge about the world of beer provided by Juan Muñoz, President of the Union of Spanish Sommelier Associations, has also been taken into account for the writing of this guide. In any case, this publication does not pretend to be more than an orientation guide on how to approach the exquisite world of pairings and it is actually a first step to discover one of the greatest and most delicate pleasures of gastronomy: hitting the right harmony with everyone We search in every sip and in every bite.
Meeting points. Generic aspects
Although as already indicated, there are no scientific explanations or exact reasoning in the meeting of the pairings of beer and gastronomy, the research carried out points to a series of coherent conclusions and even with a certain gastronomic "logic". In general terms, the following could be highlighted:
- Beer combines very well with pickles, both in the field of meat and fish. This is due to the acidic strength of the vinegar that finds the perfect balance in beer.
- Beer also combines wonderfully with dishes in which tomato is abundant, due to its acidity. This translates into very interesting pairings, such as pistos, stews with tomato, bread with tomato, casseroles….
- For the same reason, beer is the best companion for salads dressed with vinegar, as well as for any dish dominated by this type of dressing, such as salpicones. Certain acidic components of vegetables leave aromas and flavors in the mouth that distort those of any alcoholic beverage other than beer. Thus, we find here a great variety of possible combinations between beer and many vegetables that, on the other hand, are incompatible with other drinks.
- Likewise, dishes that are dressed with mustard, an acid and aggressive sauce, combine with great harmony with beer.
Spicy and spicy dishes
- Spicy and very spicy dishes produce a certain “overwhelm” in the mouth that any alcoholic beverage does not easily admit. Beer instead alleviates that feeling. It is the perfect contrast to the spicy sensation.
- It is difficult to find drinks that withstand the aggression of garlic and paprika; However, beer stands out precisely for being a good companion to this type of dish. That is why it is the perfect choice to accompany chorizo, for example.
- Following this same argument, beer finds good pairings in dishes seasoned with chilli, chili, pepper, and with which spices with intense aromas (coriander, ginger…) are carried.
- La kitchen Oriental (Japanese) finds a perfect pairing in beer, due to the sauces with which they bathe their dishes (sushi, sashimi), in which soy and spicy wasabi sauce abound.
- Also mustards and ketchup sauces combine well with beers because of the sapid strength of these ingredients. This explanation forces us to recommend accompanying the burgers with beer.
Smoked and marinated
- In both meat and fish, smoked products (a flavor accentuated by smoke) find the perfect counterpoint in beer. This explains the pairing of beer and many cold cuts, sausages and smoked fish.
- Beer also stands out as a companion to marinated fish due to the counterpoint of its flavor.
- Many fatty dishes need beer to "clean" the palate: pork, cold cuts ...
- Certain quite widespread gastronomic theories affirm that eggs served with the liquid yolk (fried, poached, soaked ...) cover the mouth with a greasy layer that "clogs" the taste buds of the tongue, which prevents it from capturing flavors of complex aromas such as wine However, this does not happen with smooth, fresh beers that cleanse the mouth.
- For the same reason, beer is a good option to accompany fried dishes that are high in fat.
- Likewise, the pairing of beer with blue fish stands out. They are very fatty fish with intense flavors that find a refreshing counterpoint in beer.
- It also coincides that the cheeses that best lend themselves to pairing with beers are those that present a greater amount of fat, a sharp texture and a clear tendency to acidity in the flavor.
- Bitter-flavored vegetables like artichokes and endives are balanced with the intense flavor of some full-bodied beers.
Dishes with chocolate
- Any dish that has chocolate as an ingredient in its sauce (partridges and quail, or the kitchen Mexican) finds an excellent companion in beer. Chocolate has a set of very strong and persistent aromas that occupy the taste organs and excess alcohol bothers the mouth when it is still occupied by its perfumes.
- Beer also has a place in the sweet universe. Good proof of this is the delicious combination of desserts with an intense chocolate flavor with dark beer and its delicate taste of liquorice and nuts.
- The toasted flavors of grilled meats harmonize perfectly with medium-bodied beers.
Beer as an ingredient
Beer and meat
Beer can play a very important role as an accompaniment to different meats, although their complementarity is not universal, it will depend on the type of meat that we are going to taste and especially on its preparation. Light beers find a greater number of affinities in this field.
When choosing a type of beer to accompany meats, it is best to study the spices and seasonings of the dish or sauce to suit the pairing. The stronger the seasoning of the dish, as long as it is not too spicy, the darker and higher-bodied beers will be chosen.
The high fat content of pork, both smoked and non-smoked, requires beer to "clean" the mouth of the thin greasy layer that is coated with these foods, without canceling its subtle aromas.
It is possible that this pairing explains the existing tradition in Europe of pairing fatty pork with beer. This fatty meat, very tasty and subtle when the piece is very good qualityIt needs an accompaniment that is equally smooth in flavors and moderate in alcohol, such as that provided by some beers. Pork meats pair very well with light beer style stock o pilsen.
Likewise, all smoked pork pieces, with their flavor accentuated by the aroma of smoke, are appropriate meats to serve with beer.
The pork meat itself is a universe of flavors that unfolds into a thousand specialties. It is evident that there is no material possibility of tasting each and every one of them to establish the pairings of beer, but in broad terms it can be said that beer combines quite well with those derived from pork.
Full-bodied beers harmonize well with cooked and smoked sausages (sausages, blood sausages, frankfurters, bacon ...) and somewhat worse with naturally-cured sausages such as ham, loin and salami. However, its harmony with chorizo is very successful.
The harmony of the chorizo and the beer powerfully draws the attention of experts. It is quite common to take chorizo with red wine, when it happens that the paprika (sweet or spicy) and garlic would destroy any type of wine. This does not happen with beers, which withstand the aggression of both dressings and tend to be successful in the encounter.
Beef also finds harmony with beer. Grilled red meats, for example, go well with light and smooth lagers.
Regarding lamb, there is no unanimity of criteria among the specialists, although they agree that it will depend on its preparation. The beer goes well with the very spicy lamb preparations. Lamb has a fatty meat with a particular taste, always outstanding above all the seasonings and aromas that are added. Lamb meats of a certain age can be combined with beers stock.
Traditionally, chicken has been cooked with beer, so it is natural that it can be accompanied with the same beer that has been used as an ingredient. Also good is the combination of beer with the braised chicken with lemon, or the poularde breasts with tarragon and the humble chicken with garlic. However, the combination of beer with roast chicken is not entirely good, since beer can handle the mild flavors of poultry.
With stews, the pairing of the beer will depend on its ingredients. If they include spices such as curry, or onion and carrot abound, the results are not very good. However, if it is a stew dominated by tomato sauce (veal with ratatouille, meat with tomato) the harmony can be splendid.
The strength of flavor of hamburger complements (mustard and ketchup sauce) are perfectly combined with the bitter taste of beers with a mild taste and a more intense flavor. A great harmony very little exploited so far.
Beer and fish
Fish and beer have many points in common and abundant meeting places with affinities of high gastronomic value.
Blue fish, with a high fat content, with more pronounced tastes than white fish, harmonize very well with beers that “clean” the palate and in which they find a refreshing counterpoint. Thus, beer can successfully accompany tuna, bonitos, sardines, anchovies, salmon, lampreys, swordfish, horse mackerel, mackerel, eels ...
In contrast, the bitterness of the beer can partially cancel out the mild flavor of some white fish. Because of their high fat content, blue fish are precisely those that are smoked, marinated, pickled, canned or are salted in all its variants. In all these cases, beer is a good companion.
When the fish have been smoked, they go very well with clear beers of the but by and those of the style pilsen, always with marked bitterness. It is very common to serve smoked fish with spicy mustard sauces, sometimes even bittersweet, which makes beer even more recommendable.
Fish, as well as salted roe, so common in our gastronomy, have very strong flavors along with a very fatty texture. A light and slightly bitter beer cleanses the mouth and perfectly accompanies these dishes.
Anchovies, whose iodized accents are intense, blend perfectly with beers. If they are also accompanied by bread with tomato and oil, the combination becomes truly glorious.
Beer enhances the flavor of some raw fish such as salmon and tuna, two very fatty fish with intense iodized flavors. Olive oil and other seasonings used in carpaccios, such as ground pepper and perhaps a few drops of lemon, accentuate this affinity.
Herring and marinated salmon stand out, very fatty fish with an intense flavor that mix with light beers with a greater body and alcohol content. Its strong, acidic and aromatic flavor finds a refreshing counterpoint in beer.
Fish on your back
The fish on the back, typical of northern Spain, with a spicy and aromatic stir-fry of garlic, parsley, chilli and vinegar, can be accompanied by even a dark beer.
Due to the high acid content of their sauces, fish pickles should always be served with beer. The marinades of the Peninsula, tuna, bonito, sardines, trout ... which can even be bittersweet, are delicious with lightly toasted beers.
The harmony that intense flavored lager beers strike with tuna, sardines and pickled bonito, as well as with pickled anchovies, is impressive. Its fatty flavors, tinged with vinegar, transform its clean loins into sparkling bites, impossible to pair with any other drink. Even more so, if they are sprinkled with minced garlic.
Both suquets and cauldrons rich in garlic, oil and saffron, in which there is no shortage of fish with powerful and penetrating flavors, go very well with beer.
All canned oily fish are transformed over time. As the months go by, its aromas become concentrated and acquire metallic accents, somewhat sweet and salty, which are superimposed on its natural marine taste. In this amalgam of varied, intense but fine sensations, soft beers and those with an intense taste act as magnificent travel companions.
The dishes of kitchen Japanese (sushi and sashimi) containing raw fish go perfectly with beer. This is due to the toppings with which they bathe, soy sauce, and spicy wasabi pasta. For the same reason, a Chinese-style steamed fish (turbot or rooster) with soy sauce incorporated is delicious in combination with soft beers.
Besides being a common practice to accompany fried fish with beer, perhaps unconscious and spontaneous, this pairing is very acceptable, since it provides the necessary refreshing counterpoint, although there are some exceptions. Marinated fish, which has been marinated with garlic, vinegar, oregano and cumin, is excellent with beer. The same happens with anchovies or sardines.
Beer and seafood
The light softness of the beer respects the intense flavors of crustaceans in many of its preparations. They are foods with strong flavors of penetrating and delicate aromas at the same time. All of them leave persistent flavors in the mouth that go perfectly with clear beers. Additionally, adding beer to a short poached seafood broth enhances the aroma of the seafood.
When the seafood is prepared with highly seasoned sauces, the beers should be of more body and alcohol content, although not too bitter. Grilled seafood also works well with light beers.
When seafood is presented in salpicones well seasoned with vinegar, beer is an obligatory ritual, since again we find the acidity that leaves the wines out of the game.
For the same reason as seafood, a light, clear beer is the best choice for steamed shellfish. The kitchen Traditional beer brewing mussels prepare beer steamed or cooked directly in beer. In fact, the mollusks, which are usually served with very cold white wines, are superb with a good beer.
Squid and other cephalopods fill the mouth with aromas and release lingering sea flavors, which make clear beer the best accompaniment.
Beer and vegetables
In the field of vegetables, beer has an enormous advantage over wine, in some cases becoming the only combination option. In the mouth it is absolutely impossible to establish pairings between vegetables and certain drinks, however, very soft beers can be good companions.
Certain components of vegetables - generally acidic - leave aromas and flavors in the mouth for a long time that distort those of any drink, with the exception of some beers.
Vegetable stews are high-risk dishes where the most common drinks die completely because of their aggressive flavors, and where, on the other hand, beer does find a pairing.
The bitterness of the beans, the watery and deliquescent tone of the asparagus, the metallic and sweet taste of the artichokes would ruin a good wine, the beer on the other hand can be a companion of the beans.
The Manchego pistos and the tomato sauces themselves with other vegetables also establish very interesting harmonies with the beers due to the acidity of the tomato.
In fact, all the vegetable fries of the Manchego style are enhanced significantly with the beer. The reason for this harmony is based on the presence of tomato sauce, an acid ingredient that, after being fried with olive oil, accentuates its savory properties, impregnates the rest of the vegetables in the recipe with its flavor and combines wonderfully with the beer.
The aromatic ones (celery, fennel) that leave intense balsamic aromas in the mouth, combine well with beers with a light aroma of hops and without too much alcohol content.
Bitter vegetables (artichokes, endives) go very well with beer. In particular, artichokes go very well with beers with an intense flavor because the sweetish metallic tone of this vegetable finds the right counterpoint and the perfect balance in the beer. No beer goes wrong while solids and liquids reinforce each other.
Special flavored vegetables
Green asparagus are vegetables with numerous vegetable nuances, akin to freshly cut herbs. They abound in intense fresh notes, which ask for the counterpoint of some element of contrast. In this sense beers play a splendid role.
Cold vegetable soups
Cold vegetable soups typical of Spanish gastronomy, such as gazpacho, salmorejo and ajoblanco, always vinegary and with a strong aroma of garlic, combine wonderfully with a beer stock with a mild hop aroma. The beer cleanses the mouth of the acidity of the vinegar and the strong garlic flavor.
Beer and salads
The fact that salads contain vinegar puts any recipe out of the game when it comes to finding harmony with the wines. And it is here where the beers play a starring role and lend themselves to magnificent encounters.
The beer combines with conventional salads, sweet vegetables and bitter leaves, combines with any type of dressing, reserve vinegars from Jerez, sweet vinegars from Modena, simple dressings, and combines with salads highly spiced with aromatic herbs, with grated cheeses and with mustard. They are also excellent with winter salads (legumes). Light and medium-bodied beers go well with all salads
Green leafy salads with acidic dressings (vinegar or lemon) pair very well with Belgian-style or wheat beers. For salads seasoned with mustard or strong vinegars (Modena, Jerez…), or with sweet and sour dressings, a beer with a strong bitter aroma of hops that adds a counterpoint.
When the salads are made of decidedly bitter vegetables, such as endives, and are also accompanied by blue cheeses (a very frequent mix), they can be ideally accompanied with beers with a more body but with little bitterness.
Spicy salads, which do not contain any acidic elements such as vinegar or lemon, can be paired with strong beers with a mild hop flavor. Those containing goat cheeses, sometimes scented with basil, pair wonderfully with a beer but by, which manages to balance this mixture of aromas and flavors.
Beer and cheeses
Although there is no consensus when it comes to approaching the pairing of beer and cheeses, in general terms it can be said that there are some interesting affinities in cow cheeses.
However, not all cow cheeses combine beer with equal success. Milds of soft pasta find their pairing in light beers, aged cows pair well with blacks, and pestilent cheeses go well with aromatic beers.
Sheep, goat and blue cheeses do not find the perfect pairing in beer.
Fresh Galician cheeses, with a deep dairy flavor, pair well with light beers. Those from Burgos are sensational with beers of medium body and pronounced flavor. Burgos cheese accompanied with black beer seems to be drizzled with heather honey.
Brie and Camembert
The French Brie cheese, with a creamy, sweet and slightly hazelnut taste, goes well with light beers. The same goes for Camembert.
Aged gouda and parmesan
Both cheeses have in common a certain flavor of pilonga chestnut and dried fruit on a characteristic dairy background, and they bind acceptably well with dark beers.
Smoked cheese: San Simón gallego
Its flavor is very similar to the Galician nipple with the peculiarity of the smoked exterior that gives it a waxy and dark tone. Precisely that smoky flavor added to the dairy taste raises a barrier of incompatibility with beers, with the exception of black.
It belongs to the group of cheeses called "abbey" or monks' cheeses. It is a stinky, smelly cheese with an intense flavor. Moldy and washed rind cheese, the result of intense microbial activity. They have great affinities with dark beers and highly aromatic medium bodied beers. The same happens with Livarot cheeses.
- Water. Pure, potable and sterile water is used to brew beer. Depending on its composition, it influences the organoleptic characteristics of the beer. The most important minerals are calcium (influences turbidity and color), sulfates (intervenes in bitterness) and chlorides (affects texture).
- Barley / malt. In Spain, the beer barley par excellence is called "two races", whose grain is rich in extract and low in protein. The malt is obtained by germination and subsequent drying and roasting of the barley grains. Evenly germinated and delicately roasted barley must provide a malt with high enzymatic power to degrade starch and other supporting tissues and guarantee the absence of matter that could affect aroma, flavor or color.
- Hop. Hops are used to flavor beer and this is what gives it its characteristic bitter taste. In addition to contributing to the stability of the foam, it has antiseptic properties.
- Yeast. Yeasts are microorganisms that are added to beer wort to ferment it. Yeast transforms the sugars in beer wort into alcohol and carbon dioxide; For this, the yeast uses other nutrients present in the must, which in turn transforms into others and which are responsible for the organoleptic change that takes place.
The elaboration process
- Preparation of the malt. The malting of barley arises from the need to transform the cereal grains, hard and vitreous, into barley malt, disaggregated and friable (which can be crushed). This process involves three steps:
- Germination: in this process the barley seed develops inside the grain in a controlled way
- Roasting: the beans are dried and roasted; In this phase, reactions between sugars and proteins take place, with the formation of certain substances that will influence the color, aroma and final flavor of the beer.
- Degermination grain: the grain has already been converted into malt
- Manufacture of must. In this stage the useful parts are extracted so that the must can be fermented. In a first phase, three processes,:
- Milling or milling the malt
- Impasto: mixture of water and flours obtained from this malt
Subsequently, the aqueous extract, or must, is filtered from the solid to boil the resulting must with the hops. Finally, it is clarified and cooled, leaving the liquid ready for fermentation.
- Fermentation. In a process that lasts 7 days, the sugars are converted into alcohol and carbon dioxide, contributing to the aroma and flavor of the final product.
- Ripening, clarification and packaging. Once fermented, the yeast is separated and the beer is cooled to 0º.
- After the maturation process, also called second fermentation or aging fermentation, the beer is clarified through filtering. The beer is now ready to bottle.
The roast of the malt will influence the color and flavor of the beer.
Types of beer
Beer lovers say that there are as many types of beer as there are brewers in the world (Gourmet Encyclopedia). In reality, what makes it really difficult to classify beers is not the variety of types but the multitude of different styles in their production. The variety of the ingredients and even the water can make each of the beers we taste different.
Beers can be classified according to the type of fermentation: low fermentation, high fermentation or spontaneous fermentation.
Under the name of beers stock all those with low fermentation are grouped together. They are usually foamy and soft, amber or black in color. They are clean and full beers. There are many types of beers stock. Some respond to their name by the place of origin (Pilsen, Munich, Vienna ...), and others by some peculiarities in their elaboration (bock, steam, smoked ...)
- Lager-pilsen. Light blonde, light and refreshing. Golden amber color. Bouquet of hops. Smooth malt character.
- Vienna style lager. More like sweet. Malt smell and character. Russet.
- Munich style lager. Dark color and malt flavor.
- Lager Bock. Are beers stock strong, with a pale amber malt flavor. Suitable to accompany desserts.
- Dark lager. Spicy malt flavor that is neither sweet nor dry roasted.
- Black lager. Extraordinarily dark lager with a fuller body. Differential palate reminiscent of dark chocolate with a touch of relatively dry caramel. Feeling of fullness in the mouth.
They are high fermentation beers, or hot fermentation. They tend to have complex flavors, and fruity aromas and palate. They are very aromatic, with a very strong body and flavor. Persistent and with a hop flavor. There are many varieties of type beers but by.
- Ale-Mild. Light, very pale and somewhat sweet. Color ranging from cherry to mahogany. Low alcohol content.
- Bitter. Ale-type beer with a defined dry and hoppy character. Low density and low alcohol content.
- Pale ale. Translucent, bronze or amber red in color. Less hoppy than other ales.
- Brown ale. Strong beers, with a malt flavor and dark color. Dry and slightly fruity.
- Old ale. Strong flavor and color, with a sweet aftertaste.
- Black Stout. Top fermented beers, very dark and creamy. Robust in character, with a marked hoppy aroma and fruity acidity. Pickled meats and marinated fish combine very well.
Spontaneous fermentation, made with wild yeasts. Fruity aroma reminiscent of odorous sherry. Little gas and little foam.
Some but by dark bind well flavored meats strongly flavored. The but by egg whites are good to accompany smoked fish and spicy salads They are considered excellent to accompany select seafood such as lobster and oysters They go well with Burgos old gouda cheese and Parmesan
Excellent to accompany meals
In countries like Spain, beers are also classified according to the percentage of primitive dry extract (ESP), that is, the set of organic ingredients except water that make up the must before fermentation.
Regular beers: Amber or black color. It is a beer of the type lager-pilsen with less alcohol and lighter than the specials or extras. With an ESP not less than 11.
Specials: They are also stock, light amber or black in color. Rich and creamy foam. Tasty and balanced beer. With an ESP not less than 13.
Extras: Of intense color and intensity, intense and with a drier and stronger flavor. Its old coppery gold color is darker than ordinary and specialty beers. Pronounced hop flavor. With an ESP not less than 15.
Did you know…
- The moderate consumption of beer in healthy adults corresponds to about 66 cl per day for men (equivalent to two thirds) and half of this amount for women.
- Beer contains mineral salts, fiber, carbohydrates, micronutrients and vitamins, especially of group B, important for a proper nervous balance, the formation of hemoglobin and the decrease of homocysteine (cardiovascular risk factor).
- The consumption of a third of beer a day provides 10% of the needs
- daily of folic acid.
- Moderate drinkers have up to 60% lower risk of heart attacks than heavy drinkers or abstainers.
- The famous "beer belly" is a false myth: moderate consumption of beer does not alter weight or body mass, according to different studies, such as the one recently carried out by the CSIC. Beer does not contain fat and provides fewer calories than regular soft drinks.
- Non-alcoholic beer has even fewer calories and is an excellent option for people who do not want or should not consume alcoholic beverages.
- Beer is rich in polyphenols, natural antioxidants that can prevent the body from aging. It can be integrated into a low sodium diet, due to its low sodium content.
- The first vestiges of the existence of beer come from the Sumerians and date back to 4000 BC
- Beer was the national drink in ancient Egypt.
- In Spain (Lleida) is where the first archaeological remains of beer in Europe have been found, dating back to 1200 BC. C.
- Hops began to be used in the XNUMXth century for its antiseptic qualities, which in turn added bitterness to beer ever since.
- In 1859 Louis Pasteur discovered the modus operandi of yeast, when he was researching beer.