From pale ales to dark stouts, there is no shortage of beer options to have with your dinner tonight. But what brew will complement your meal the best?
Like most beer aficionados, Kent Waugh, brewmaster at the Crooked Can Brewing Company, enjoys a good beer paired with a delicious meal.
Since the Crooked Can Brewing Company is located in Winter Garden’s Plant Street Market, which houses a number of artisan markets and local eateries, Waugh is accustomed to making food and beer pairing suggestions to patrons who grab a beer at the brewery’s tap room and then wander the market in search of something to eat.
According to Waugh, the key to choosing a beer is to find one that will enhance one or more of the flavors in your food.
Seafood and Wheat Beer
So, say you are having seafood with a slice of lemon. Squeeze that lemon slice on top of your dish and then pair it with a sour wheat beer, which will intensify the crisp, tart notes from the lemon.
When it comes to the delicate nature of most seafood, a bright and brisk beer like many wheat beers will also complement the lightness of the dish.
Try it out at the market: Head over to Jōdo Sushi for some salmon or white fish with a Cloud Chaser from the Crooked Can.
Meaty Dishes and Amber Ale
Moving on to heavy foods such as juicy burgers, Waugh suggests amber ale. American amber ales usually have more body, so they will pair better with rich foods that have lots of umami flavor. Umami, a subtle savory flavor, is considered the fifth taste and can also be experienced in foods such as mushrooms, tomatoes, cured meats, anchovies and certain cheeses.
In addition, amber ales tend to rely on roasted malts that give the beer a caramel roast flavor (and its light copper color), which will go well with the grilled, smoky burger patty.
Try it out at the market: Try the Crooked Can’s McSwagger’s Own amber ale at Five Thymes Five with the restaurant’s self-titled burger, which features a juicy 8-ounce, grass-fed beef patty.
Chocolate and Stout
If you want to fall further into the richness of malts, a stout or porter might be just the thing. Stouts and porters are dark beers that are frequently made with heavily kilned malts. These full-bodied beers can have flavors of chocolate, coffee and roasted nuts.
“Any beer with any chocolate is kind of fun,” Waugh admits. But he does recommend a stout if you’re looking to pair your chocolate dessert.
Try it out at the market: For a fun taste test, put together a box of various artisan chocolates at David Ramirez Chocolates and then see how each pairs with the Crooked Can Brewing Company’s house stout.
Pizza and Pale Ale
India Pale Ales, known as IPAs, are another popular style of beer. The taste of the hops (flowers used in brewing beers) is prevalent in IPAs and generally adds bitterness to the brew. The flavors of the hops can vary between spicy, grassy, earthy, herbal and citrus.
Waugh says a cheesy dish such as a pizza pie is usually a good pairing as the hoppiness of the IPA can cut through the heaviness and gooeyness of the cheese. IPAs with a spicy edge can also be paired with foods like curry to enhance the fiery flavors in the dish.
Try it out at the market: Hands down, the Crooked Can Brewery’s High Stepper IPA with Michael’s Ali Coal Fired Pizza’s Bianca pie – covered in mozzarella, provolone, ricotta and Gorgonzola cheeses – is Waugh’s favorite pairing at the market.
Waugh’s last piece of advice for drinkers looking for delicious pairings is just to be open to trying new things.
“Taste a little bit of everything,” he says.