THE THANKSGIVING AMERICAN CRAFT BEER AND FOOD PAIRING GUIDE
In America, Thanksgiving Day is a national holiday that traditionally celebrates the autumn harvest. Families come together to give thanks for many blessings and enjoy a traditional meal which includes turkey, stuffing, mashed potato, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie. Of course, where there is food there is also beer and the full and complex flavours of American craft beer make it the perfect partner for a Thanksgiving celebration.
But if you want to focus on something more simple before then, this handy guide to pairing American craft beer with no-cook food will have your tastebuds tingling and your senses salivating. Cheese, charcuterie and chocolate make perfect partners for the multitude of flavours found in American craft beer. Here’s why…..
Acidity, carbonation and bitterness in beer cut through fat
Malt found in beer complements creamy, nutty, earthy or caramel flavours and contrasts with salt
Ingredients used in craft beer (especially carbonation and alcohol) can alter the texture of both the rind and the paste of cheese and provide complementary and/or contrasting flavours for each.
Here are a few guidelines for getting started:
Cheese, like beer, should be served at the correct temperature. Take cheese out of the fridge and let it warm to room temperature before pairing. Keep beer at the correct temperature for the style.
Match intensities. Delicate, lighter American craft beers often pair well with young or mild cheeses, while stronger flavoured beer tend to work better with full-flavoured, mature cheeses. The same applies to cold meats.
Look for common ground. For example, a malty craft beer pairs well with a nutty cheese, or a hoppy, bitter beer cuts through a cheese with a high fat content
Think about other sensations and interactions such as acidic or salty cheese with a hop-forward beer
Charcuterie refers to smoked, cured or cooked meats and generally involves salting (preserving) and air-drying, and this effects how they interact with beer
Palate balancers – nuts, dried fruits, fresh fruit, honey and pickled items all make great additions to craft beer and cheese
Aim for 25g of cheese per 100ml pairing of beer
Suggested American craft beer and Cheese Pairings
Wheat beer, Lambic-style beer
Cheeses like mascarpone, ricotta, mozzarella or goats cheese match the delicate notes of the beer without overwhelming the palate
Kolsch, Pilsner, Pale Ale
Cambozola, Reblochon etc can be enhanced by a high level of carbonation. Salty cheese like Feta, Caerphilly or Wensleydale needs a thirst-quenching, refreshing style to combat its dryness.
Brown Ale, Imperial Stout, Bock
Cheddar, Gruyere, Emmental, Parmesan, Manchego etc echo the nutty, earthy notes of a brown ale or stout. These beers add creaminess on the palate to a hard cheese
IPA or Imperial IPA, Barley wine
Strongly flavoured cheeses such as Roquefort, Stilton, St Agur, Danish Blue etc can be successfully balanced with bolder beer styles
Vacherin, Taleggio, Port Salut, Stinking Bishop etc. Beers bring out the cheeses’ delicate sweet note and can cut through the funk of the washed rind, eg. Spencer Trappist Ale
And if you’re a fan of cold-cuts, smoked meats and charcuterie this guide is for you:
TYPE OF CUT
Prosciutto di Parma (pork)
A classification of ham from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy. Known for its umami flavour
Pilsner, Doppelbock or Saison
Dark red cut of beef, thinly sliced. One of the leanest cured meats
Smoked, cured meat, milder and firmer in texture than prosciutto
Smoked Beer, American Pale Ale
Saucisson Sec (pork)
A French-style salami. Typically dry-cured and rich in flavour
A distinctive bright red colour due to addition of smoked paprika.
Smoked Beer, Pilsner
Cooked sausage made from ground pork meat, garnished with pistachios and small cubes of fat for extra flavour
Belgian-style Trappist ale
Salami Piccante (pork)
Can be spicy to mild. Spiced with paprika and hot to mild red peppers known as peperoni
Usually made from ground pork, duck or chicken liver and spices
Finally, if all you want to do is kick-back with a bar Finally, if all you want to do is kick-back with a bar of chocolate and a beer remember to match intensity of flavour. Here’s a basic guide:
White Chocolate – creamy texture, no cocoa solids, usually contains 20% cocoa butter, sugar and 14% milk solids. Pair with Witbier, Brown Ale, Sweet Stout, fruited Wheat beer Milk Chocolate - usually around 35-45 cacao solids. Pair with: American pale ale, Brown ale, Amber ale
Dark chocolate – at least 35% cacao solids but commonly above 70%. Pair with: Robust Porter, Imperial Stout, Dubbel, Lambic style beers
Look out for beers with speciality ingredients such as coffee, chocolate, peanut butter and many more that offer endless possibilities for pairing with chocolate.