For those with a deep appreciation (or perhaps just a nagging curiosity) around Winter beers, you may eventually find yourself innocently scanning a dinner menu, wondering what food will make your beer taste best.
Let’s be clear - yes, you are becoming a beer nerd, but more importantly, you’re about to enjoy your meal way more than your finger pointing, laughing dinner companion, who chose their meal by simply ordering the food they like best and the beer they like best! Where’s the art in that?
This Winter, make the most of your beers with this simple guide to Winter beer and food matching. But first - why are beers seasonal anyway? Well, being the oldest man-made alcohol in the world, beer has spent most of its life (and humans have spent most of their time enjoying it) without the flexibility and ease of refrigeration. This meant brewing was typically an Autumn and Winter activity, as this was when new barley was harvested. The cooler weather also made it possible to store beers for longer, especially high-alcohol beers like stouts and doublebocks. By Summer, lighter and quick-fermenting beers were brewed with what barley and hops were left.
Even though we can now brew dark, malty beers in Summer, our taste buds are still attuned to the seasons. In Summer we crave the crisp, light flavours of pilsners and pale ales, while Winter sees us seeking the likes of stouts, porters and brown ales.
As a very basic starting point, Winter beer matches with Winter food. Hearty, rich and complex flavours mingle well together, with dessert an easy and rewarding place to start (no, I’m not just telling you what you want to hear!) From here, try to remember to contrast (don’t pick flavours that will fight each other for dominance - oysters and stout is an example of good contrast) and complement (very heavy beers with very heavy food, like porters and veal).
Here’s a list of Winter beers with some common menu items to start you off:
- Dark lagers: pizza, burgers, hearty stews
- Brown ales: roast pork, smoked sausage, sushi, grilled salmon
- Porters: roasted meats, coffee, chocolate, peanut butter, game meats
- Stouts: chocolate, grilled meats, shellfish, Mexican food
Bridge Road Brewers Robust Porter
Robust is an understatement. This beauty is big, bold and best when it's cold! Expertly balancing chocolate, mocha and roasted notes, we suggest you head down to The Press Room, Beechworth, to enjoy it with dessert.
"Chocolate y anis", comprised of chocolate mousse, house-made black sambucca icecream w/ Anise biscuit crumble is exactly the sort of food Bridge Road owner/ brewer Ben Kraus recommends to pair with this beer. Rich chocolate and liquorice are most complimentary (though the novelty of eating black ice cream cannot be underestimated!)
King River Brewing Altbier
If you're still teetering on the edge when it comes to winter beers, be sure to try the King River Brewing Altbier - a lighter style brown ale with bready aroma and light finish.
This type of beer calls for meat, meat, meat! Which is why the Mountain View Hotel, King Valley, pulled pork and porchetta burger with blue cheese mayo and barbecue sauce will see you well an truly satisfied.
Bright Brewery Staircase Porter
This hearty beer is full to the brim with complex layered flavours including creamy espresso, bittersweet chocolate and toffee - a winter beer by the book!
So what High Country match will showcase this beer best? I bet you're thinking dessert, right? Wrong! We're going to balance the complexity of the Staircase Porter with the simplicity of a beautifully cooked scotch fillet steak with Japanese barbecue jus. Thank you Dr Mauve Bar and Lounge!
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