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Oct 13, 2011 09:30 AM

Craft Beer Pairing Chart

An interesting shot at a comprehensive guide from the folks at in a downloadable PDF file. There are some "to be expected" suggestions, as well as a few I don't hear very often.

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  1. Not buying any of the dessert pairing until a try them. Don't seem logical to me.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Chinon00

      I'd expand your skepticism to nearly all of these categories. Beers have such individualized flavors I don't see how one can generalize this way. Just looking at pale ale, which can be all over the map in terms of flavor profile.

      Bonus hilarity points: no inclusion of *any* sour beer styles.

      1. re: Josh

        I just don't buy into this notion that beer is so versatile that many can be successfully paired with dinner OR dessert. I can think of many savory dishes I might wanna have w/ a pale ale, IPA, pils or Irish dry stout. But it seems utterly counter-intuitive to think that each can also be paired with a dessert as easily.

        1. re: Chinon00

          Yeah. I can't imagine a pils dessert pairing at all.

          I will say I was quite shocked the first time I had a double IPA w/ carrot cake. It sounded like a train wreck to me, but the flavors worked together surprisingly well.

          A friend of mine and I hosted a beer pairing dinner at a Thai place, and we paired a spiced Belgian golden strong with mango sticky rice. That was a pretty incredible pairing, as the rice and mango brought out all these floral notes that weren't as apparent sampling the beer on its own.

          So I know that beer/dessert pairing *can* work, but as you say - not every style, or every example of every style, is going to be successful with all types of courses.

          1. re: Josh

            My point is that dessert beers such as DFH Fort are obviously more well suited for pairing w/ dessert than non-dessert beers. Having said that yes I've had some luck w/ some pairings of non-dessert beers and sweets (i.e. Hop Stoopid w/ a bar of chocolate). But again the obvious choice for dessert pairing w/ beer (dessert beer) is generally ignored when these discussions come up.

        2. re: Josh

          I agree. It all seems a bit silly to me.
          But then again, the beer industry PR machine is just doing its job. Even though I think the idea of beer being "the new wine" is a bit of a chuckle, in the end this kind of hype (however bizarre it becomes) may do at least some good by igniting curiosity about _better_ beer and the many varieties available.
          Beer is definitely getting more respect these days. But it's starting to go to its head LOL (pun intended. A bad pun, clearly)

          1. re: The Professor

            Well, as someone who was beating the drum for beer-and-food pairing several years ago, before it was the big new thing, I do think that beer can be paired more effectively than wine with almost anything.


            I think if you don't understand wine-and-food pairing, which is something I spent a fair amount of time doing prior to my involvement with beer, or if you don't spend a lot of time actually working with beer and food pairings, and if you don't really get how food-and-drink pairing works conceptually, I think you're just throwing darts.

            I've seen people advocate some really bizarre pairings, and all I think is that they just don't understand how pairings work in the first place.

            Something like 50% of men are non-tasters, genetically, so that may have something to do with the proliferation of wacky pairings.

            I feel like we're seeing a lot of beer expertise as karaoke right now. People read BA or RateBeer, and assume because they've sampled umpteen whatevers, that confers on them knowledge and authority. Maybe it's kind of like the movie fanboy phenomenon wherein anyone who's watched a lot of films thinks that makes them the next Quentin Tarantino?

            1. re: Josh

              "I feel like we're seeing a lot of beer expertise as karaoke right now. "

              That is probably _the_ best summation of the current state of beer geekery that I've seen yet!
              "Beer expertise as karaoke"...brilliant one, Josh!

      2. I'd like to see a chart that focuses more on why pairings do or don't work than a general assessment based on styles. Beer styles are way too nuanced for simple categorization. Some IPAs are more malty or balanced whereas others are more like hop bombs, so putting them all in the same category isnt much help. Also, how a dish is prepared also contributes to its flavor profile. I'd take a more scientific approach and break down the flavor characterisics of a particular beer and dish and line up where the flavors complement and contrast and try to explain why they work or dont. Otherwise its just too subjective.

        1 Reply
        1. re: chuckl

          I agree 100%.

          That's how I learned about wine-and-food pairing, was by learning how to work with the basic flavors and attributes of both wine and food. Without that base, it's just guesswork.