When you think about food and drink pairings, society has trained us to think that wine is what should be served at the table. Yet, the more I travel the world, the more it becomes apparent that the idea that wine is the only table drink is somewhat of an oddity confined to us here in the States. Beer is served alongside goulash and pork knee in Prague, mussels in Belgium, fresh conch salad in the Bahamas, and the list goes on. All around the world people have embraced the idea of beer with food for decades. Why? Because ultimately, it works better with food than wine! There, I said it.
The options are endless. Countless styles multiplied by countless variations of those styles gives you the ability to find a beer that will suit any meal. Plus, with the wide availability of hops and grain through homebrew stores and online outlets, if you can’t find what you’re after for a certain food item – you can always brew it yourself! This is a good thing! What wine pairs with spicy Indian food better than a hoppy IPA? None. Wine people – you know it’s true. I enjoy wine. A lot. Still, beer is king when it comes to pairing. Try Rapp Brewing’s Gose (Seminole, FL) with some fresh Blue Point oysters and tell me it doesn’t change your perception of what beer can do to food and vice-a-versa. Dessert you ask? Grab a piece of decadent chocolate cake and pair it with Cigar City’s Marshall Zhukov (Tampa, FL) and tell me a glass of wine would have paired better. Point is, beer’s ability to pair with and enhance your food are superior to wine. Period.
Lucky for us, restaurant owners and chefs are starting to understand the importance of a varied menu of quality craft beers in their restaurants. Even here in Miami, where the still infantile craft beer scene is only now beginning to crawl, restaurants are popping up around town focusing their entire menus on the way the food will play with the beers being offered. But it’s not only these beer-centric restaurants that are taking note of the beauties of pairing beers with food. High end restaurants which traditionally only offered wine or spirits have begun to open the door to the American craft beer too. Restaurants like Route 9, OTC Miami, and Batch Gastropub are taking things one step further and hosting multi course beer dinners to show off just how good the pairings can be.
For a great read on food pairings with your favorite beer styles check out “The Brewmaster’s Table” by Garrett Oliver.