A Perfectly Meaty Guide To Pairing Beer & Food
There are many ways to unwind after a long and busy week, but for us, the best way to do so is with a beer in hand – and what better way to enjoy an ice cold, thirst-quenching, frosty brew than over a delicious meaty meal. When pondering beverage and food pairings, many are quick to conclude that wine is the direction to go – but we feel it is important not to underestimate the power of a great beer-meat combination.
With countless varieties and styles of beer coming from every corner of the world, the possibilities are endless when matchmaking a cold one to your plate – the complexity and uniqueness of a great beer can bring out the best in your cooking. We had a beer-centric chat with Brad Royale, the Director of CRMR’s wine and beer programs, to get some quick tips on beer pairing. Keep reading for some tips on how to arrange a great food-bevvy duo to take your dinners to the next level.
“Pairing beer, like wine, is a steady combination of pleasure and experiment,” says Brad. “When sitting down to slug a brew with a favorite dish, there are a few key items to keep in mind when you reach into the fridge.” Below are some important concepts to understand before marrying your beer to meat:
Tannins – Tannins are organic molecules found in plants and seeds that form a strong reaction when exposed to proteins, creating an often-astringent taste by reacting with the salivary proteins on your tongue. Not into chemistry? Us neither. In simple terms, tannins determine how much you’re going to pucker your lips in reaction to how your beer tastes. A beer’s IBU content says a lot about its tannins.
Hops – Essentially a glorified garden weed, hops flowers could be compared to wine grapes in their variety and are introduced into the brewing process to ensure your beer isn’t sickly sweet. They add a pleasant bitterness and aroma, ranging from citrus to herbal. “Hops are a good time and it’s worth getting a handle on a couple standard names like Cascade, Citra, Saaz and Chinook,” says Brad.
Alcohol Content – Pay attention to the beer’s alcohol content – if it’s a light salad of spinach with ceviche scallops, maybe something with lower alcohol will keep things in line, but if you’re hitting a bowl of bison stew then perhaps something with more oomph is required.
“The best thing about beer is that, by and large, it’s cheap to experiment with. Why limit yourself to one style with dinner? If there are a few of you eating, grab a few bottles and try them all. There is no time in history that has offered so much great beer. Drink it… drink all of it.”
See below for some potential beer pairings with some of our favourite recipes:
PULLED BISON TACOS
This recipe is all about convenience while not having to sacrifice quality and taste. The bison chuck used to make these delicious tacos is a great value meat and perfect for cooking low and slow, leaving you with tender and soft pulled bison.
When it comes to pairing beer with bison, game meats generally go well with a beer full of character – try something like an IPA, a strong lager, or a stout. Combined with the tangy undertones in the bison meat and the freshness of the veggies, a beer with oomph will help tie this meal together. Below are some local options that will make your heart (and taste buds) sing:
- Cold Garden – This Must Be The IPA (6%)
- Village – Neighbour Pale Ale (5.1%)
- Last Best – There Will Be Porter (5.5%)
PEPPERED FLANK STEAK
This recipe is an effortless and mouthwatering way to prepare this perfect grilling meat that can work in all kinds of meals. The addition of fresh, homemade Chimichurri adds a zesty and bold flavour to the dish, giving you the taste of summer all year round.
Beef-centric dishes tend to pair best with heavier, darker brews. In general, we would recommend looking for an Amber Ale, Red Ale, Brown Ale, or Stout to pair with this Peppered Flank Steak recipe. Below are some mouthwatering and local recommendations:
- Wild Rose – Barracks Brown Ale (5%)
- Cold Garden – Red Smashed In Buffalo Jump (5.1%, irish red ale)
- Village – Blacksmith Ale (5.5%)