Matching beer with fine food

Here’s an article on MSNBC highlighting the growing movement of pairing beer with fine foods, bringing more culinary respect to beer, a là wine.

Part of the way to win over wine lovers is by showcasing just how well beer can pair with food. [Jim] Koch [founder and brewer of the Boston Beer Company/Sam Adams] worked with Jason Miller, executive chef of David Burke’s Primehouse in downtown Chicago, to create a special menu for BusinessWeek in which each of the four courses was highlighted by an American craft beer, or microbeer as they’re also known. We agreed that Koch, who can do a dead-on impression of Julia Child, could select one of his own beers, but had to choose other brews for the other courses. With each course, we had a 6 oz. tasting of a different beer.

The rules for pairing beer with food are common sense. You should try to complement or contrast the flavors and intensity of the beer — be it the alcohol, malt, hops, or other traits — with the food. Lighter fare like salads or fish work well with lighter beers such as an ale. Richer or spicier foods need something bolder, like a dark, malty Oktoberfest-style brew. To sample the delights along with Koch, we gathered a group of beer aficionados and neophytes at Primehouse.

It’s full of mouth-watering descriptions of the meal courses, and does a fair job of describing the beer accompanying each one. Though I have to object a bit to the beer chosen to accompany the main course, which was one of three dishes: "With such a range of dishes, the beer has to be versatile enough to match foods with so many flavors. Koch’s pick: his own, Samuel Adams Boston Lager."

Boston Lager? Really? I have to say when I think of Boston Lager, "versatility" is the furthest thing from my mind… if you’re looking to pick a beer that can work with a blue cheese steak, or spicy pork shank, or an Asian-flavored Chilean sea bass, I’d pick something like an IPA. Not one of the "extreme" varieties, but something very respectable like Stone IPA or AleSmith IPA.

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