It challenges wine
as best food pairing.
BY CAROLYN WALKUP
efore the microbrew beer movement took off, chefs
and beverage managers typically turned to wine to pair
with restaurant dishes. Now, all bets are off about what
libation goes best with every course, from starters to desserts,
with specific beers often winning the nod.
From Portland, Maine, to Eureka, Calif., chefs in restaurants
as well as brewpubs are seeking the advice of brewmasters
rather than sommeliers when creating certain dishes, some of
which they find difficult to pair with wine. These days they
often find the perfect pairing from a microbrewery located in
their own town.
Beer has long been considered a natural accompaniment
at casual restaurants that specialize in foods such as pizza,
burgers and sausages. However, beer is now being paired
with sophisticated dishes at white-tablecloth establishments,
as well as at special brewmaster dinners.
PHOTO CREDIT: Opposite, Justin Lewis
“Beer goes well with everything,” claims Joey Pearson,
chef de cuisine at Nose Dive Gastropub in Greenville, S.C.
“I look at it the same way as wine—it all goes according to
the individual’s palate.”
Pearson might pair lighter beers with acidic and sweet flavors,
such as a brown ale that has floral and herbal notes with sweet
OPPOSITE: This Portuguese fisherman’s stew paired with an amber ale at Half
Moon Bay Brewing Co. is a seasonal mix of fresh fish, shellfish and linguiça.
potato bisque that contains cayenne and cloves. Or, instead of
red wine with steak au poivre, he might suggest a pale ale, an
amber or even an oatmeal stout.
Meat and beer is not particularly unexpected, but several chefs
have raised the bar on typical pairings. Five Fifty-Five restaurant
in Portland, Maine, occasionally serves goat, usually with harissa
or other hot Mediterranean accent. Executive chef Steve Corry
finds that a crisp lager is a good pairing.
Patrick Feury at Nectar in Philadelphia recommends a rosemary-scented golden pale ale with lamb skewers or lamb shank. “I use
that a lot in my food. It’s subtle and gives a little sweetness at the
end with a citrusy flavor,” he says.
PAIRING BEER WITH FISH
Fish and shellfish, once considered primarily suited to pairing
with white wines, also pair well with certain beers, although
finding the proper pairing takes trial and error. Suggested beer
pairings are becoming more common with all kinds of seafood.
“The challenge is that most of our fare is delicate,” says Joshua
Tilden, beverage manager at Shaw’s Crab House in Chicago.
“Most of our beer list is lighter-bodied, acidic and crisp so we
don’t drown out the delicate flavors of fish or crab.”
Tilden says Belgian-style wheat beer goes well with most
seafood, while heartier fish preparations, such as the beer-