Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Food & beer: A recipe for delicious

There’s a special moment that occurs when taking the first bite of food at a restaurant. Immediately your taste buds organize a collection of flavors to create a single, mouth-watering experience that is unique and satisfying in every way.

But after a few more bites, the sensation begins to lose its potency. The flavors your mouth once enjoyed are now taken for granted, so you reach for your beer to fill the void. Then the sensation returns, and with vengeance.

Good beer doesn't just go well with food; it enhances it. Finding the right brew to pair with food isn't always easy though. With thousands of craft breweries in the U.S. producing hundreds of beer varieties, it can be tricky finding the right one to compliment your meal.

“People discovering what they like to eat and what they like to drink is unique,” said Tammy DeLong, a bartender at the Pearl Street Grill & Brewery.
“Pearl Street” is unique because it offers both in house-made food and beer. This puts bartenders like DeLong at an advantage, making beer pairing a sixth sense for employees.
“Anytime you work with food and alcohol, you take in more options,” said DeLong. “You get a greater knowledge of both.”
To find good pairs, DeLong recommends that you trust your senses and decide what flavors make up your beer. Smell, look, and taste are all key components in this step of the beer pairing process.

Next, decide what flavors from your brew complement flavors from similar foods. Maria, a waitress at Pearl Street, said pairing a beer and food can be much like a tight rope balancing act.

“The two need to be equal,” said Maria, “otherwise one will overpower the other.”
If you allow one to dominate the other, many of the subtle flavors from the lesser will diminish, which could potentially ruin a great meal.

Lastly, DeLong believes that you must take risks. Many of the best beer pairs were created by breaking the rules, so you need to be adventurous when creating good combinations.

“I always ask people what they like to drink; then you can’t go wrong,” DeLong said.
Below are some of DeLong’s personal pairing recommendations to give you an idea of a few beers that compliment certain foods. She warned, however, that these tastes are unique to her own palate and should only be used as guidelines when searching for pairs of your own:
  • Blueberry Blonde Ale with Buffalo hot wings.
  • Pearl Street’s “Trainwreck” German Amber Ale with any burger.
  • Pearl Street’s “Lighthouse Premium,” a Blonde Ale, with any sauce-dense pasta.