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Food & Beer PairingEveryone knows about the flavors that occur from the perfect marriage of wine and cheese, but did you also know that beer aficionados like to experiment with food and beer pairings as well?

With the popularity of craft beer, food and beer pairing has become in itself an art form.

Recently, beer pairing dinners are the trendy replacement for cocktail parties. Beer pairing is no longer just the simultaneous consumption of a Bud Light and a cheeseburger. It may come as a surprise to the average beer drinker, but even dessert and beer pairings work to accentuate and complement the flavors of beers.

So how does one go about learning to pair beer with complementary food? Well, you could begin by trial and error. To save you time, however, we have attached the following beer pairing guide from Beer Utopia, which acts as a map for beer novices to navigate their way through beer pairing. Learn how to do beer pairing experimentation of their own.


Simple beer pairing guide

Beer pairing dinners seem to be all the rage lately. More and more people are beginning to realize that the complex flavors of beer can compliment more than backyard barbecue fare. If you’ve ever been to a beer pairing event, you know that the chef likes to describe how the thus-and-such flavor of the beer brings out this particular flavor in that particular dish. It can sound a little complicated and pretentious to your average beer drinker.

So, here is a list of simple beer pairing suggestions, abbreviated from an already short and simple list from SeattlePI.com:

Food Beer Reasoning
Southeast Asian, Indian and Central/South American (spicy) Light, crisp beers such as light lagers Light body cools the heat
Cheese Nutty brown ale, sweet hoppy double IPA or tangy wheat ale Similar to nuts, fruits and sweets often paired with cheese
Desserts or meat dishes Stouts and porters Coffee and chocolate flavors match similar flavors in desserts and meats
Foods featuring spices and herbs Belgian beers Often spicy, tangy or fruity, pair with foods featuring spices and herbs to pull similar flavors forward from the beer
Dessert British Barleywines (usually sweet) Syrupy and fruity, excellent stand-ins for dessert wines
Fatty meats, creamy sauces and starches American Barleywines (usually hoppy) Bitterness helps cut through fat and starches


The basic concept is to take the character of the food (sweet, bitter, spicy, etc) and either compliment it with a beer with a similar character or choose a beer with a contrasting flavor profile. The key, I think, is to experiment because there really are no wrong answers.

In the end it comes down to personal taste. For instance, Mexican food would generally be paired with a light lager but I really enjoy drinking Modelo Dark with Mexican dishes. Besides, if you say a certain beer pairs well with a certain food because the flavor profile of the beer compliments the spices in the food, your less-beer-educated friends aren’t likely to argue. They’ll just think you’re a beer geek and what could be better than that?

Beer pairing works in a similar manner to a wine pairing. While there may be basic rules to food and beer pairing, a lot of these rules are intended to be broken. The only guideline is to match beers and food that taste great together. Feel free to follow the above beer pairing guide or create pairings of your own. The most important thing is that you are experimenting with beer flavors and having fun!

The experts at Julio’s Liquors can help you with any beer pairing questions that you may have. We are offering a cheese and beer pairing next month with Jeff Nelson of Stone Brewery, and event that you will not want to miss. Visit our calendar to learn more.