Festive Food Pairing

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The festive season is upon us and many people will be stocking up on wine to serve along with their traditional homemade meals.

But have you every considered adding beer to the festive drinks line up? Beer has an incredible ability to “match” with foods – in fact, some even argue that beer is even more food-friendly than wine. This is because while winemakers work primarily with just grapes, beer brewers have a huge variety of ingredients to play with. And it is these different ingredients that make beer such a good match for food.

But how do you start matching the right beers with the right food? One of the simplest ‘rules’ to follow is to think of ales like red wines, best paired with heavier foods like red meat. Lagers can be compared to white wines that pair better with delicate foods like fish.

Some beer and food matching ideas for the festive season:

Starter nibbles:

As with all food and beer pairings, there are many options here. As a general rule of thumb, a light lager or wheat beer will work best and not overwhelm the palate right at the start of the festivities.

The main course:

A festive meal is usually going to include a roast, which means that a dark ale is the simplest option. A malty dark beer will have rich caramel notes, which will complement the meat.

Dessert:

Rich desserts like cheesecake go superbly with a Kriek (fruit) beer. If you’re serving a fruitier dessert, try matching it with a wheat beer as this will have the right blend of tartness and sweetness to complement the dish.

The cheese-board:

The simplest option is to serve a porter along with your cheese-board. However, many craft beers go extremely well with different cheeses, including St. Stefanus Blonde. So if your cheese-board is varied, your beer choices will be endless! British cheeses pair well with pale ales, while and abbey dubbel goes well with French cheeses.

Post-dinner chocolates:

We’re all prone to an after dinner chocolate or two – so why not enjoy a piece of dark chocolate with a Belgian cherry kriek beer. The flavour combination is reminiscent of a Black Forest gateau – an ideal way to round off the festivities!

Here are some general things to bear in mind when planning your festive food pairing:

- There are two ways to match beer and food – either pair food with a beer with similar flavours or go for completely contrasting tastes.

- Start with the lighter beers and progress to the heavier beers throughout the meal.

- Bubbles cut through fried and fatty foods, so opt for a craft beer with a higher level of carbonisation if you’re eating richer foods.

- But the most important rule for beer and food pairing is that there are no rules. It is up to you to find out which of your favourite foods go best with your favourite beers – just don’t be afraid to experiment.

Here’s to a fantastic festive season!

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