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Food matching for the ale and hearty…

On 27/08/13 by Steve Livens (Policy Manager - Product Assurance & Supply Chain)

There is more and more interest in matching great beer with great food. For anyone new to making recommendations, getting started is fairly straightforward, and is generally easier than for wine.

There are no ‘right or wrong’ pairings, and in many cases these can be a matter of personal taste. Yet there is one very useful principle with which to start – match the flavour intensity of the beer to the flavour intensity of the food.

Delicate foods, such as fish need a delicate beer, while big tasting food needs something more powerful, brimming with barley malt and hops. This is why ales are a good match for richer foods.

Food with more robust flavours, such as spicy and herby sausages call for something strong, like an India Pale Ale with high hop bitterness, such as Marston’s Old Empire, an India Pale Ale from Burton-on-Trent, the spiritual home of British brewing.

When it comes to a pub classic like pies and scotch eggs, you can’t beat a traditional pint of bitter. It balances light hop bitterness and juicy malt sweetness. Timothy Taylor Landlord, Brakspear Bitter, Adnams Bitter and Old Speckled Hen are all good choices.

Food matching also works well with stronger ales when it comes to richer meat like steak or lamb. Try Fuller’s ESB, JW Lees Moonraker from Manchester or Old Tom, a lush oxblood-coloured ale swirled in chocolate, dark cherry and liquorice.

Meanwhile, blonde ales are great with chicken or fish. The classic drumstick pairs up perfectly with refreshing aromatic ales such as Deuchars IPA, Hopback’s Summer Lightning, Roaring Meg from the Springhead Brewery in Nottingham or Wainwright, from Thwaites Brewery in Lancashire.

Citrus, lemon hops are a major star of continental style blonde beers and will compliment fish and seafood such as salmon, prawns, scallops or even scampi. Fullers Discovery and Adnams Spindrift are wonderful examples that will marry the flavours of beer and surf perfectly!


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