HE SAYS WINE, SHE SAYS BEER . . . What do you say?
After centuries unfairly being considered as a second-rate food match, beer is finally taking its rightful place at the dining table. The best restaurants around the world have begun hiring beer sommeliers to enhance their guests’ dining experience. There’s no doubt about it, today’s craft beer – with its broad range of complex flavours– is more food-friendly than wine.
Diversity is the biggest thing beer has going for it against wine, and it’s limited only by a brewer’s imagination!
Beer has four main ingredients: a malted grain such as barley, wheat, rice or rye – for bready, toasty flavours. Plus water (soft or hard). Plus yeast (earthy or peppery characteristics). And our favourite ingredient, hops (which adds bitterness and floral aromas and flavours). And you can let your imagination run wild for fifth and even sixth ingredients. We’ve brewed chocolate beer, coffee beer, watermelon beer, smoked mussel and oyster beer (no, we’re not kidding) – even seaweed beer. Why not try adding bacon, flowers, honey, herbs . . . the possibilities are endless.
Poor old wine has just one ingredient – grapes. And winemakers are limited by the harvest and how well the grapes turned out that year. And let’s face it, there isn’t nearly as much difference between a chardonnay and a merlot as there is between say a wheat beer and an imperial stout, or a saison and a Double IPA.
In our humble opinion, because of these more limited flavours, wines can’t complement food as well as the more versatile beer. Beer’s accessibility, both in price and perception, is another of its key attractions. Quite simply, beer is much more fun. And it’s not intimidating.
But let’s now try to dial down the bias for a bit . . .
There are so many varieties of wine and beer that each can be matched perfectly with a complimentary food. There’s honestly no meal that can’t be paired with beer or wine.
Here are a few of our favourite beer styles and some suggestions to try matching with them. Give them a go, and experience for yourself if beer (or wine) comes up trumps!
Smoke BBQ ribs and India Pale Ale: (such as Murray’s Fred IPA)
The intense flavours of the ribs require a beer matching of equal flavour power. IPA’s are the perfect candidate, they easily balance and contrast with the immense amount of hop bitterness and flavour found in all good IPA’s.
Cheese Platter and Belgian Dark Strong Ale: (such as Murray’s Hell of the North)
Belgian Strong Ales have a plethora of subtle flavours; banana, clove and bubble gum from the yeast to stone fruits, toffee and raisins from the malt. These flavours are easily married with any number of different cheese types as they will never overpower the light delicate flavours of some cheeses. The higher carbonation level this style of beer will strip the palate of the fattiness of the cheese leaving it ready for the next bite.
Light seafood and Pilsners/Lagers: (such as Murray’s RudeBoy Pilsner)
The delicate flavours of white fish and squid require a beer matching that will not overpower it. The refreshing nature of theses beers are perfect complement with the light bitterness to refreshing the palate of any oil or fat residue left from the fish.
So, do you say wine? Or beer?
Whatever your tipple, let’s agree to say “Cheers” and here’s to a fantastic New Year!