Beer and Food…Perfect Together. By: Kevin Schulke, Beer & Wine Category Manager

George Reisch III, Brewmaster for Anheuser-Busch

Contrary to popular belief, wine is not the sole adult beverage accompaniment to a meal.  Have you ever considered learning to pair beer with your food? The Brewmaster from Anheuser-Busch shared some valuable tips and lessons with Price Chopper associates on how to choose your brew based on what you are serving for dinner. 

Beer offers a natural complement to food, because it IS food (born of natural ingredients like barley, hops, water and yeast).  Beer also offers unprecedented refreshment, beer is not overly sweet and is meant to be swallowed, not sipped.  Light carbonation can cleanse the palate, and beer’s alcohol content per fluid ounce is moderate compared to wine and hard liquor.  Beer complements a range of cuisines, including American Classics, Asian Fusion, and Latino/Spicy.

Before pairing your food and beer selections, there are a few preliminary decisions to consider:

Step 1: Glassware

Glassware is critical to capturing the unique characteristics of the various styles of beer you may serve. Don’t worry – many of the different basic glassware styles are already in your cupboard!  There are five basic styles:

Glassware (from left to right)


  1. Tall Fluted Glass for Light Lagers
  2. Tulip Glass for Full Bodied Lagers
  3. Snifter/Goblet for Robust Porters
  4. Mug/Stein for German-styleMaerzen/Oktoberfest
  5. Traditional Pilsner Glass for Mid-bodied Lagers

Step 2Pouring and Tasting

The most common error when it comes to pouring is tilting the glass and pouring down the side of the glass. This minimizes the foam and traps the natural carbonation of the beer, allowing for a flat gassy taste which is NOT what the brewmaster designed! 

Here’s how to correctly pour:

Place your glassware flat on a counter, bring the beer to the edge of the glass, quickly raise the bottle or can to 45 degrees and send that beer right down the middle of the glass!  Enjoy the ensuing gurgle and the substantial head of foam. As the foam rises, slowly reduce the pour until it rises to the tip of the glass. The foam will release the carbon dioxide, flavor and aromas to your nose exactly where they are supposed to be. If you drink your beer directly from the bottle or can, this will never happen and you’ll never enjoy the aromas the brew master locked inside that container of beer. To complete this step, simply and slowly bring the glass to your lips and savor the aroma as you enjoy the taste.

Step 3: Pairing the Beer with Food

There are 3 Basic Principles to consider:

Balance: Your food and beer should create a balance of flavor when consumed. No single flavor should dominate, and this is achieved by contrasting flavors of food with different styles of beer, or by choosing a beer that complements the dish.

Contrast: Your beer and food can offset each item’s distinguishable flavor elements. Some foods pair better with beers that have opposite flavors or textures. Take the dominant flavor in a food dish, or beer type, and pair it with the complete opposite; for example take pasta with broccoli rabe and spicy sausage and pair it with a rich, malty amber lager to mellow out the intensity of the food.

Complement: Sometimes similar flavors work to form an agreeable taste or complimentary pairing. A suitable example of this would be a rich molten chocolate cake served with a dark, toasty porter or stout which works well with the strong, sweet flavors of the dessert. In this combination, even the colors of the pairing are in alignment.

 Key Flavor Elements in Beer:                                                                                             

  • Clean/Crisp- Light/Pale Straw                                             
  • Citrus/Fruity-Dark Straw/Light Amber
  • Sweetness-Pale Amber
  • Hoppy/Spicy-Deep Amber/Copper
  • Roasted Malt-Brown
  • Richness-Black

 Key Flavor Elements in Food:

  • Rich-Chocolate
  • Aromatic-Garlic
  • Spicy/Heat-Peppers
  • Charred/Smoky-Smoked Sausage/Meats
  • Sweet-Honey, Strawberries
  • Tart/Acidic-Oranges, Lemons
  • Fruity-Mix of Fruit

General Guidelines for Pairing the Beer with Food

  • Spicy and Aromatic Foods = Work well with Lagers, Light Beers or Wheat Styles
  • Rich Foods = Work best with Pilsners or Stouts
  • Sweet Foods = Work best with Pale Ales, Dark Lagers, or European Pilsners
  • Charred or Smoky Foods = Work best with Brown Ales or Lagers 

We hope you find these tips helpful for preparing your holiday table this year.  Happy holidays to you and yours from Price Chopper.

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