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How to pair food and beer - part four

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Nigel Sadler | 10:24 UK time, Wednesday, 11 April 2012

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.

Stout goes well with apple pie


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.


  • Comment number 1.

    I would have thought that some of the Belgian fruit beers (I have tasted a raspberry one) might go well with sweet food?

  • Comment number 2.

    The krieks he metntioned are the Belgian fruit beers cooksalot - too sweet for me, and I'd have thought the fruit flavour would overpower most puds.

    Cheese and beer - yes, I agree completely

    But to me trying to pair beer with dessert is just trying to push a square peg into a round hole, especially if the dessert is creamy - I'm not even very keen on wines with desserts, on the whole I prefer a coffee, German style, or just a little pause in the drinkign before the digestif!

  • Comment number 3.

    Of course, Sue - silly of me to miss it. I didn't much like the rasberry beer and tend to agree with you about beer and dessert! I prefer wine with my cheese but do like a nice cold beer with any kind of spicy food. OH likes a nice pint of good English ale with his roast dinner.

  • Comment number 4.

    Thanks a lot for these articles, Nigel! It was truly inspirational and I'm now planning to complement many more dishes with specific beers. It will involve a lot of experimenting, but hey, experimenting with beer can only be fun!!
    I hope to read more from you on this site in the near future!!

  • Comment number 5.

    I found that the floral hop on a continental lager is a perfect match for Brie.

  • Comment number 6.

    Nonsense this. Enjoy a beer, enjoy your food. Those of us who've drunk bitter all our lives know how subtle it is with food. We also know how easy it is to drink in quantity. It's easy to piggyback on the success of real ale and quality beers, as this sort of article does. There are many of us in the know already

  • Comment number 7.

    Just read all four posts -- thanks for the tips, Nigel! I'll remember the cheese pairings...

  • Comment number 8.

    p.s. However, I do agree some more emphasis could have been placed on British beers. I don't think you recommended anything to match an English hoppy ale, other than cheddar cheese?


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