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Beer Pairs Better with Food than Wine

May 12, 2011

Here is an article from Beer Buzz that I thought hit the mark right on.  I am so tired of all the press wine gets for its “parability” with food.  This is much more about wine snobbery than actual variety and subtlety of flavors.  Here is the article reprinted here.  .  .


Beer is better than wine.

There, I said it.

Now, before you start writing nasty e-mails let me preface that with, beer is better than wine with food.

Still angry, huh?

Well, let me modify that with, beer is better with most foods than wine.

I better explain myself. You see, beer just has more flavor components than wine. It’s made from four ingredients; hops, malt, water and yeast. And because it goes through not only a fermentation phase but also a cooking phase, these four ingredients get to blend and change to create whole new flavors.

Wine has, what? Grape juice?

On top of that, beer can be made with fruit, or spices, or herbs, even chiles. Heck, I even had a peanut butter beer that wasn’t half bad (it wasn’t half good, either). The point is there’s just more to offer with beer than with wine.

I’m going to pick a fight here but, for me, wine (which I dearly love, by the way. I was raised by oenophiles.) has only the ability to contrast with food. Its high acidity and high alcohol content aren’t well suited as a complement to many delicate foods, or entire ethnic cuisines, for that matter.

Beer, though, can contrast and complement. It simply has more flavors to draw from. Take malted barley for example, a cousin to wheat which is the backbone of, perhaps, the longest lived food staple of mankind, bread. Malt is kilned as bread is baked, and in the process many of the same flavors develop.

Let’s look at hops, too. Hops are to a brewer like spices are to a chef. There are hundreds of varieties and each one contributes a different nuance; bitterness, aroma, flavor. It can be said that when a brewer develops a new beer, it’s done in the same way a chef develops a new dish, comparing and contrasting flavors to achieve balance.

There are just certain things wine can’t do with food. Take Mexican food, for example, or Thai food. I defy you to find a wine that can compete with the complexity of flavors found in these cuisines. And if you do, fine, now try dealing with the spicy heat of these dishes. It’s close to impossible, yet I can think of 10 different beers that would be matches made in heaven (not to mention adequate fire extinguishers).

I’ve mentioned it before, but don’t forget beer’s knock-out punch; carbonation. Other than champagne and sparkling wine, you don’t find it in the world of wine, and that’s a shame because it does wonders for some foods.

Carbonation gives beer the ability to lift subtle flavors from foods that heavier wines cannot. It’s also a natural palate cleanser, and since CO2 has a level of acidity, it has the ability to cut through certain fattier foods.

I love wine with food, but to me, it has its limitations. Next week I’ll explain how to go about pairing beer with food. Until then, the next time you go out to eat, skip the wine list and explore what beer can do.

Andy Ingram is owner and brewmaster of Tempe’s Four Peaks Brewery. Read Beer Buzz each Wednesday at Contact Ingram at Follow him on Twitter (@fourpeaksbrew) or Facebook.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Stephen permalink
    May 12, 2011 5:55 pm

    Rieslings, from dry to sweet, pair very well with Thai. Rioja, Montepulciano, Sangiovese, Chablis, and the proper Chardonnay all pair well with the right Mexican dishes. Don’t get me wrong. I am a brewer, but there is a wine to pair with every food and the same goes for beer.

    • philippians1v21 permalink*
      May 12, 2011 9:13 pm

      Thanks for the comment. All of us certainly have our opinions. Personally I couldn’t stomach those combinations you mentioned. I struggle to conceive of any worse possible paring of beverage to food than Riesling and Thai. The very thought of it gives me shivers. A Chardonnay with a Mexican dish is almost as bad, IMO (especially when compared with a Mexican cervesa with a squeeze of lime).

      But, I think the point of the article was that there is much more to work with in beer (to compliment or contrast food) than there is in wine (which has only one ingredient other than yeast). I think we would all agree that wine has it’s place and is very enjoyable with some foods. The point here is that so does beer, in fact more so.

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