Everything You Need to Know About Pairing Craft Beer

Some handy infographics to help you drink craft beer with everything

Photo Sasabune Omakase Modified: Flickr/erin/CC 4.0

It's no secret that we love a good craft beer around here, but let's face it: we're not always pros at how to pair our favorite beers with our favorite foods. Sure, we've learned that beer can work with cheese, chocolate, even our favorite brunch foods (thank you baby Jesus), but we're at times still stuck on what to eat. Fortunately, Craftbeer.com and the Brewer's Association have broken down what those tricky beer terms mean when it comes to pairing food and beer. 

As Julia Herz from Craftbeer.com explains, there are four main components of the overall experience of a beer: taste, flavors, intensity, and sensations. When pairing craft beer with food, it's best to think about how the craft beer's taste elements either counteract or contrast with the food's taste; the ultimate craft beer and food pairing allows both to equally shine.

As we can see from these "potential interactions" between taste characteristics from beer (on the lefthand side) with the taste characteristics from food (on the righthand side), we can see that not everything is a "home run." After all, some of those super bitter, hoppy beers might just make your super spicy pad Thai a kick in the rear. But it's good to know that some beers with sweet characteristics can counter a spicy meal, while our sweet Porters are best served with a melt-in-your mouth cake. Want better definitions of these terms? Here's what Herz has to say:

Complement: When one item from a craft beer or food complements the other during the pairing.

Counter/ Contrast: When elements interact and either heighten or calm each other's intensities.

Cut: The bitterness of hops cut and lessen the richness of fat, richness, and oil in food.

You can find more helpful craft beer definitions and terms to help make your next meal a stellar pairing, at Craftbeer.com.

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