Unlike wine, there just aren't many in-depth resources to guide beginners and beer sommeliers alike for pairing beer with food.
The good people at SAB World of Beer are here to change that.
While wine accompanies food, beer compliments it, enhancing subtleties and adding layers of flavour.
For gourmands, this presents an exciting new opportunity to experiment and elevate this amber liquid.
Once a month on a Saturday, the World of Beer hosts a beer-pairing lunch. “This is almost unprecedented in an industry overly preoccupied with wine and whiskey pairings, but not with exploring and creating meals that deliberately complement the multitude of flavours found in beer”, says Anton Erasmus, Trade Brewer at SAB for over 15 years.
He conducts the sessions and has a wealth of knowledge - drawing attention to mouthfeel, flavour and aroma.
The pairing commenced with Castle Lager as the gulper beer.
The gulper is an ode beer drinkers that are more apt to quaff their beer litre after litre to enjoy the flavour and thirst quenching qualities without worrying about every little nuance.
Castle Lager is the perfect balance of bitter and dry, making it the thirst-quencher of choice.
The starter, which was paired with Stella Artois, was a lightly curried butternut soup topped with a coriander cream and served with a cheese straw.
“Stella Artois is malt-accentuated, with a soft and creamy mouthfeel”.
It pairs perfectly with creamy food dishes and seafood”, says Erasmus.
The second course was fillet of hake poached in milk and scented with cumin, drizzled with a dill yoghurt and micro herbs - enjoyed with an ice cold Hansa Pilsener.
“With its crisp flavour, Hansa Pilsner is best paired with light meals”, Erasmus attests.
Try this beer with a green salad in a creamy dressing, steamed broccoli, or fried camembert in phyllo pastry.
The palate cleanser was a Litchi Brutal Fruit granita, paired with Brutal Fruit Litchi - which is made with real fruit juice.
This course serves to remove food residue from the tongue, allowing you to more accurately assess a new flavour.
This is the perfect interlude between the first two courses and the last two, because the taste and texture are not like any of the other dishes.
“It cleanses the palate because the flavour is new to the taste-buds coupled with the crushed ice that has a cold and course mouthfeel,” asserts Erasmus.
After that we had peppered fillet of springbok carved on to a creamy mash potato, with Cumberland sauce, pearl vegetables and a pancetta crisp - paired with the star of the show, Carling Black Label.
This full-bodied beer is best paired with strong-flavoured foods.
The perceptible sweetness and fruity aromas compliment the sweet characteristics in certain foods, like pork and apple sauce, pork belly with a fruity glaze, caramelized onions, sweet and sour puddings and Yorkshire puddings.
Dessert was a rich chocolate brownie with an espresso anglaise and a vanilla ice cream, paired with Castle Milk Stout.
“Not only does the beer pair well with rich meat (like oxtail and lamb shank), but it also pairs beautifully with chocolate, toffee and caramel puddings – because it accentuates these flavours found in both the beer and the dish”, says Erasmus.
The toffee, coffee and mocha flavours found in this beer are tailor made for chocolate-y desserts.
This is now my go-to dessert beer.
Beer has many different characteristics thanks to its varied ingredients, with hundreds of malted barley varieties, yeast strains and hops, which make it pair beautifully with food - from sweet desserts to hot spicy dishes, depending on the beer style.
Food and beer are the perfect marriage - because beer IS food.