How to pair food and beer - part four
Well, here we are at the final blog post in this short series, and where better to end up than at the end of the meal. Yes, it’s time to look at puddings and cheeses. Many of you will no doubt think, “Beer with puddings? Ridiculous!” But once again the versatility of beer shines through. With cheese in particular it certainly proves to be a more amiable companion than the traditional red wine accompaniment. Fruit beers, honey beers, heather beers and even stouts will all pair a wide range of desserts exceptionally well.
Let’s take a look at cheese first of all - a traditional farmhouse product with a whole range of flavours and textures. Creamy, salty, nutty and earthy are just some of the characteristics of cheese but there are some easy guidelines to follow:
- Pair delicate beers such as a heather ale with young, fresh cheeses.
- Pair malty beers with nutty, aged cheeses.
- Pair highly hopped, bitter beers such as IPAs with tart, sharp cheeses, especially mature cheddars.
- Pair strong, sweet beers, a barley wine for instance, with blue cheeses.
Now let’s move on to consider some classic desserts. In general anything rich and creamy, like trifle, tiramisu, or even apple pie and cream, will go with a rich Baltic or milk stout, the rich sweetness and smooth texture of the beer complementing the dishes well. There are also strong chocolate notes in these beers and both stouts and porters work well with any chocolate flavoured pudding. Look out for chocolate porter, which has gained popularity in recent months.
Sharp or tart desserts, like tarte au citron, will be contrasted by a light, delicately flavoured ale. More and more honey beers are appearing on the shelves in bottled form so well worth looking for. The heather ale mentioned above is also worth seeking out. These styles can get away with a quick chill in the fridge so great for the summer months ahead.
Finally we move on to the fruit beers, originally more of a continental style they are now gaining in popularity here. The traditional cherry, apricot and raspberry krieks work well with most fruit flavoured desserts such as summer pudding or strawberry flan. An orange wheat beer (yes, they exist!) is a great accompaniment to more traditional things such as spotted dick or syrup sponge. The carbonation helping to refresh the palate, and working as a complement to the syrup or sauce which usually comes with them.
Well, that about wraps it up. One final thought - don’t forget that beer is also a great ingredient and can enhance a whole range dishes from casseroles and stews to desserts. I hope you’ve enjoyed this series of blogs posts, and that they’ve helped you look at beer in a different light. It is a wonderful drink, and as I’ve pointed out before, the right beer with the right food can be unbeatable.
If you’ve discovered any magic pairings of food and beer leave a comment and let us know.