So what makes beer such a great partner for food? It’s all down to the beers’ basic ingredients: water, malt, hops and yeast. These ingredients bring a far greater spectrum of versatile flavours and aromas to the table than a traditional food and wine matching.
Although the popularity of beer and food matching has grown in recent years, the Morning Advertiser highlighted that pubs are not doing enough to take advantage of the opportunities this presents. Pubs are faced with the challenge that beer continues to have a reputation for being a low-value, everyday drink consumed in large quantities. However, by offering a greater range of beer styles served in smaller quantities, such as tasting flights can give a beer and food matching experience the fine-dining appeal it deserves.
Without experience, the complex nature of beer can make food matching overwhelming. That’s why we’ve asked Nikki Rowe, our expert in-house Beer Sommelier, to give us her top tips for beer and food matching:
A useful mantra to bear in mind to help you to achieve successful pairings is link, level and lift.
Linking is when you find a flavour that is common in both the beer and the food and you use it as a bridge to link the two. An example of this if pairing an aromatic Thai curry with the bright, lemony citrus hops of an American pale ale.
Levelling involves trying to create a balance between the flavour of the beer and the dish so that neither one dominates. Beer is great with cheese; Badger Fursty Ferret with strong English cheddar works a treat. The sweet malty character of the beer counteracts the saltiness of the cheese; carbonation lifts the fat off of the tongue to act as the perfect palate cleanser.
Lifting is when you’ve cracked it! The combination of the two is far nicer than the sum of its parts and thus you have created an enhanced taste experience. A great example of this is Badger’s Cranborne Poacher with chocolate and raspberry brownies.
As a rule, light beers go with light food and dark beers go with dark food. This is because as food is cooked it darkens due to browning reactions between proteins and sugars in the food (think about bread as it bakes).
By matching food and beer colour you will be indirectly considering how the food has been cooked and the extent to which the malt used in that particular beer has been roasted. This automatically introduces similar flavour components into the equation. Chargrilled chicken with a roasted porter is a perfect example of this.
Texture and intensity should also be taken into account. Lighter bodied beers pair better with lighter dishes and heartier dishes fare better with more full bodied beers. Delicately flavoured beers compliment less intensely flavoured dishes. Whereas, hoppy, spicy beers enhance spicy, more flavoursome food. This links back to the levelling rule as you don’t want either to dominate. Great examples of these matches are Badger’s Golden Champion with herb encrusted salmon. The Beer’s subtle elderflower notes harmonise with the herbs without swamping the delicate flavour of the fish.
We have a diverse range of characterful beers which match perfectly with food. Here are just a few examples:
TANGLE FOOT & STUFFED AUBERGINE
Our legendary Tangle Foot is 5% ABV (4.7% ABV on cask). The finest English Flagon barley, Goldings and Challenger hops deliver balanced flavours of crisp malt and subtle hop, with a delicate pear drop aroma. This pairs perfectly with stuffed aubergine filled with grilled red onions, plum tomatoes and feta cheese, with a thyme & garlic pangritata, spring leaf salad and chive crème fraîche.
FURSTY FERRET & HONEY ROAST HAM
Fursty Ferret is 4.4% ABV (4.1% ABV on cask). The dark crystal malt delivers a full-bodied biscuity taste, rounded off with a subtle floral and lemon hop aroma. This pairs perfectly with honey roast ham served with a brace of eggs, triple cooked chips and piccalilli.
BADGER BEST & LEMON TART
Badger Best (3.7% ABV) is a thirst-quenching beer that combines our finest Flagon ale malt with a small amount of crystal malt to give a subtle malt character. This pairs perfectly with lemon tart, served with raspberry coulis and fresh berries.
THE BLANDFORD FLY & CHEESE
The Blandford Fly (5.2% ABV) is a uniquely sweet and spicy golden ale with a refreshingly different ginger taste, offset with hints of sweet toffee. This pairs perfectly with a cheese board including Cornish Yarg, Dorset Blue Vinny and Somerset Capricorn Goats’ Cheese with water biscuits, grapes, celery and quince jelly
THE CRANBORNE POACHER & DUCK HASH
The Cranbrone Poacher is 5.7% ABV. The Crystal and chocolate malts provide a full-bodied taste with sweet, complex flavours of damson and liquorice. Pairs perfectly with confit duck, savoy cabbage, potato & grilled red onion topped with a fried egg.
HOPPING HARE WITH TUNA NICOISE
This 4.4% ABV beer is as marriage of aromatic citrus American Amarillo & Cascade hops and the finest English Flagon barley. This pairs perfectly with tuna nicoise served with roasted tomatoes, seasoned new potatoes, green & borlotti beans, black olives & salsa verde, topped with a poached egg.
GOLDEN CHAMPION & SALMON TARTARE
Golden Champion (4.5%ABV) is a light and refreshing beer with a crisp taste of summer with floral hints of elderflower. This pairs perfectly with diced smoked & unsmoked salmon, dill, capers & shallots with malted sourdough croutes.
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