We are pretty used to just enjoying a Winterlong beer on its own; but we also know that good beer and good food can bring out the best in each other. With the right beer pairing, the meal can be transformed and elevated to a whole new level of flavour experiences. Some beers provide a nice contrast to the dish with a balancing or cleansing effect. While others may serve to enhance or highlight certain elements in the food and vice versa.
Beer vs. Wine
Most people hold the assumption that wine pairs better with food. But beer has thousands of different possible aromas, giving us much more to work with than wine. A lot of the flavours found in food can also be found in beer (think grain, fruit, herbal, citrus, spice, acid, roast) giving us lots of matching and contrasting possibilities. Beer offers a range of colours, alcohol strengths, as well as those nice carbonation bubbles that can scrub your palette.
Beer also pairs with literally any kind of food. Wine particularly falls short with spicy foods (think Mexican or Thai) as well as fatty and rich foods. Even sommeliers find wine and cheese to be a tough pairing. But beer and cheese is so refreshing, it can just cut right through that creaminess. There may just be a Beer & Cheese event in your future.
Beer offers a huge range of colours, alcohol strengths and thousands of potential aromas to pair with food.
Beer Pairing in Action
Our recent Valentines Dinner was an excellent example. Michael Roberts and Tim Cameron’s food was simply outstanding. The quality of the ingredients they used, the creativity of the combinations and different cooking preparations, blew our socks off.
With six courses to pair our beer with, we had our work cut out for us. Thankfully we have a good diversity of styles to play with at Winterlong. We also got to try all the food together with our beer before the event. Just some perks of the job.
Six courses paired with six beers, and don't forget the bread from Landed Bakehouse.
Our approach to beer pairing is a combination of basic pairing theory and keeping an open mind. Some classic pairings can’t be beat, like chocolate and raspberry. Case in point, our Terror Oak-Aged Imperial Stout paired with the Chocolate Covered Raspberry Sorbet. This pairing was absolute heaven. But sometimes the pairing is less obvious. We were surprised by our choice of Pingo Pale Ale with the Elk and Pork Cassoulet. We had originally ear marked something like Sinister Rouge Red IPA or Guilt Trip Barleywine to complement the rich flavours in the dish. But in the end, what the dish really needed was something lighter and refreshing to take a bit of the edge off. We still dream about this combo and those hand made sausages!
Outside of the brewery, we welcome working with other restaurants on pairing our beer with their food. We recently had the pleasure of heading out to Wood Street Ramen to taste their new menu and to suggest beer pairings. We came equipped with a selection of our beers and got to fill our faces with each of their dishes. So good! Always stoked for those opportunities.
Watch for more tasting events in the future!
Time to plan another visit to Wood Street Ramen!