How to Pair Beer With Food

Funky Buddha Brewery

When Steve Hindy founded Brooklyn Lager in 1988, it was not to rave reviews—people did not like the brew’s darker pour and more bitter taste. Today, however, that same recipe is considered to be an entry-level craft beer that paved the way for the ever-growing craft beer industry. Indeed, the craft beer movement has proven to be phenomenally successful and grown from an independent, hipster “scene” into a main-staple of the food and beverage industry.

With the craft beer industry booming, brewers are looking for increasingly complex and delicious ways to produce the tastiest beers on the market. In the case of South Florida’s Funky Buddha Brewery—which is partnering with Celebrity Cruises for a Brew Cruise next March—this means mixing up mouth-watering beers like Sweet Potato Casserole (“a big, rich, sticky beer full of sweet potato and marshmallow flavor”), Pip’s Pumpkin Porter (“slightly roasty with flavors of pumpkin spice and pumpkin pie”), and Don’t Tell Reece Peanut Butter Cup Brown Ale (a “big brown ale” with “waves of peanut butter and a chocolate layer”).

Given how many strongly flavored beers the brewery produces, John Linn, Funky Buddha Brewery’s Brand Director, is chock-full of advice on how to best pair beers with food.

Linn notes there are three main approaches to pairing beer with food:

1) Look to pair complementary flavors. For instance, you could pair a sweet chocolate cake with an even sweeter dark roast to bring out the cake’s flavors, Linn says.

2) Try pairing contrasting flavors. For foods like a really spicy chicken wing, Linn says he’d recommend pairing the dish with an IPA. The character from the beer’s hops gives it a citrus quality that helps quell the heat of the spices, he explains.

3) Match the intensity levels.  Linn says that his most important tip for pairing foods with beer is to match the brew’s intensity level with the food being eaten. For example, with strong cheese like blue cheese or gorgonzola, he says, you need a strong beer with the right amount of malt so that one flavor doesn’t overpower the other.

Overall, Linn praises the idea of perfectly matching the right beer to the right food, noting that beer is an extremely varied drink to play around with. “There are hundreds of different types of hops and yeasts that help make a beer distinctive—not to mention the flavor of the water you use and the character you pick up from the terroir of the ingredients,” he says. “That’s why pairing a specific beer with food is so rewarding.”

If you’re interested in learning more about how to pair beers with food, or sampling the Funky Buddha Brewery’s famous “Maple Bacon Coffee Porter,” consider booking a trip on Celebrity’s Craft Brew Cruise, departing on March 12, 2015 from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Contact  Deborah Fogarty at be Well Travel (954-778-5699) for details.

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