How to create perfect beer pairings

Hop on the craft beer trend — pun intended — by learning to become a beer connoisseur in time for the holiday season. Impress your host or guests when mingling at the next party with beer sommelier skills and expertise in flavour notes, appropriate glassware, and what to pair with the turkey.

1. Learn the basics. Many of beer’s flavours come from malted cereal grains — primarily barley — that contribute to its sweetness, colour, and richness. The flavours range from bread-y and biscuit-y to a roasted or chocolate taste. All styles fall into one of two families, ales and lagers. Lagers are fermented for a longer time at cooler temperatures, resulting in a crisp beer with a lighter body. Pilsners are a great example of a popular lager style, and are clean and refreshing showcasing light grains with a balance of spicy hops on the finish. Ales tend to have more body and greater flavour complexity, which lends itself nicely to styles that emphasize bitterness or rich malt flavours. Stouts are a great example of a darker ale, with roasted barley providing colour and a coffee-like flavor.

2. Drink with your eyes. Colour is great way to find out what malt flavours you can expect and how strong the beer will taste. Choose a lighter beer like a blonde for a refreshing taste and go darker for increasingly richer flavours. Make sure not to confuse darkness with bitterness — there’s no way to determine how hoppy a beer is based off its colour.

3. Pick the perfect glass. Remember that a cool-looking glassware is more than an aesthetic consideration — the size, shape, and stem all work together to affect the drink’s taste, carbonation, amount of head (foam), hop oils, and aroma. Choose a mug or stein for stronger ales and lagers, a classic pint glass for lighter beers and blondes, a flute or tulip glass for fruity beers, and a Weizen glass for wheat beers.

4. Pair this with that. Lagers are perfect for light, fresh dishes or anything involving bread, wheat beers and fruit beers are great for vegetarian dishes and salads, and pale ales are exactly what your turkey needs. For desserts and winter comfort foods, choose a sweeter beer like Granville Island’s Lions Winter Ale. With complex layers of vanilla, cocoa, and caramel, this brew gives you plenty to get warm and cozy with and is nicely balanced so the sweeter flavours don’t overwhelm. (NC)

Local Links:

Check out some beers brewed nearby!

Nickel Brook, Burlington

Pepperwood Bistro, Burlington

Cameron’s, Oakville

Orange Snail Brewers, Milton

Collective Arts Brewing, Hamilton

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