Beer Vs. Wine Food Pairings

For decades, when people thought of food pairings the automatic assumption would be using wine. A sommelier could come to your table and pick out the perfect Chianti to compliment your lasagna. Lately, the standard has shifted and more and more you see beer and food pairing recommendations readily available. The boom of the craft beer industry has provided such a vast variety of brews to choose from. The limitation of a single ingredient (grapes) for wine isn’t something we beer folks have! We can experiment with hops, grains, yeast strains, and even the type of water we use. We have the ability to add fruits or spices and even after the beer has been made we can throw it in a barrel to age. The barrel could have once held wine, tequila, rum, or whisky and each one can impart different flavors to the brew.  Beer is probably the most food friendly beverage to pair with foods!

Finding the right style of beer to pair with your course isn’t as hard as you’d think. The idea is to enhance the food that has been wonderfully created for you. A successful pairing is found by figuring out the key characteristics of the craft brew you plan on pairing with.  What are the flavors, intensity levels, taste elements, or sensations that you perceive?  Is it sweet or acidic? Does it give you a puckering sensation?

For tasting elements you want the dominant food and beer principles to contrast. This makes it so each item shines at its brightest! For example a sweet or malty beer would go well with spicy or acidic foods. When thinking of intensity levels you want to make sure they match fairly equally. With the taste elements you want to harmonize the flavors.  We would take our Clusterflies Farmhouse Ale (Belgian style Saison) and pair it with a white fish that has dill and fresh lemon juice. The sensations like sparkling or dry can cut through oily or fatty foods.

Many people even say that by thinking of what wine you would pair with a dish you are able to determine what beer would also go best. Some say a lager is like a white wine and an ale is like a red. The lager being light and crisp and an ale being intense or robust. The real fun comes when you are trying to figure out what would go best – beer or wine?

Craft beer has accepted the challenge! From time to time you will be able to find a food pairing smack down where a winery and brewery will pair each of their beverages with a course and let the consumer decide. Southbound Brewing will be  bringing an event just like this to Alligator Soul on May 15thduring American Craft Beer Week. The chef has graciously allowed us to take on Prime Distributing in a four course Grapes Vs. Grains event. We will take all of our knowledge of ingredients and styles to perfectly match every herb and spice in the course. Each tasty plate will come with one wine and one beer and you get to decide who paired it best! If your willing to take on this epic battle with us you certainly won’t leave unsatisfied!


If you can’t make it to the event, the good news is that you can create your own pairings in the comfort of your home. Head to the nearest craft beer package store and build your own six pack. Think about all the elements in your dish and compare them to your brew. Challenge your taste buds and find the perfect match for your incredible meal.  Be creative, experiment, and remember that no matter what food you pair with – the beer will still taste great!