Beer is literally everywhere you go. There are gods, festivals and towns dedicated to it! There are laws made to define and regulate it and apart from tea and water, it is the most consumed beverage in the world!
So what is beer? Beer is a fermented combination of malted grains (barley and wheat generally) water and sugar. Modern beers rely on the use of hops added to the process to add bitterness to the equation. You can now find beer that is fruit, vegetable or even herbal flavoured. When it comes to alcohol in beer, it can be anything from 2.5% all the way up to 20% and sometimes, beyond. Some beers can have an element of carbonation, some do not. There are countless styles of beer to try and are literally, millions upon millions available out there.
Developed in Czech Republic town of Pilsen, Pilsners have a dry mouthfeel with a little bitterness that is balanced out with a little malty crispness. Good Pilsners are mid-weighted to light, crisp, but not too bitter.
Pilsners are great with anything crispy, salty or fried. Pilsners can handle spice, but not too much and like lighter proteins; pork, chicken and fish.
Lagers are all about refreshment and should be clean, light, crisp and refreshing. The hoppy bitterness in Lager should be at a minimum and the finish should be dry with a very slight bitterness. Dry Lagers are made popular in Japan and now, you are starting to see them everywhere. What makes them dry is that they are fermented for longer to reduce the amount of sugar left in the beer, to create a really dry finish and a lighter beer. Dry beers should taste crisp, dry and subtle.
As Lagers are generally lighter, they can handle lots of spice and are really versatile across a wide range of food. From BBQ to seafood, Lagers pretty much go with everything.
A category that is gaining popularity, Pale Ales are characterised by the use of pale malted barley. The styles can vary from light to heavy, citrus to roasted, smoky to bitter or, malty and creamy. Pale Ale is the category with the most stylistic interpretation, and finding a favourite can be a journey.
Pale Ales can be complex, and food-matching is all about the characteristics of the beer and the quest to find complimentary flavours.
As the name suggests, IPAs were developed in Britain to send to the colonial settlers of India in the 1700’s. Characterised by higher alcohol content, more hops with toasty characteristics and a rich malty, caramel component that adds weight and complexity to the beer.
IPA is exciting but like Pale Ale, finding the one that you like can take some time, as some of the strong flavours and characteristics can be confronting for some. IPAs are great for Asian food that are rich as it matches in weight and complexity, like curries.
Defined by the use of extra, darker malts, this category of beer is luscious, full bodied and flavoursome. Characterised by attractive aromatics, you should expect to find caramel, chocolate, toffee, roasted nuts and coffee flavours in Ales and Dark Beers. If you are a lover of rich flavours, you should explore this category.
Ales and Dark Beers work beautifully with any food that is rich, roasted, stewed and braised.
Part of the Ale family, these are the heaviest beers you will come across. Rich, full and rounded, Porters and Stouts are made with really dark malts to create heavy dark flavours. Expect to find roasted coffee, bitter chocolate and black roasted fruits that can sometimes be accompanied by smoky characters and a round, velvety mouthfeel.
Not for the faint hearted, these beers can sometimes be an acquired taste, but they can be a really great match for BBQs; beef and lamb as well as slow cooked meaty dishes.
Find all the great wines mentioned in this article at Wine Selectors.
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