Our beer, your food

Beer and food matching has been growing in popularity over the last number of years, coming out of the shadow of wine and food. Traditionally of course, beer would have been the drink ‘of the people’ and naturally what would have been drunk with food until we decided that it was much more sophisticated to imitate our continental neighbours and drink wine. Beer can provide much more complex flavourings, with several different types of malt used in our beers, giving the malty sweetness, contrasting with the range of hops which provide bitterness, aromas and flavours numerous which all work together to provide different depths of flavours and dimensions to the beers.

A simple way to look at beer and food matching is to treat lighter beers like white wine — pair them with lighter foods, fish etc. and save stronger, darker beers for more robust dishes that can stand up to the flavours much as you would red wine.

Helvick Gold Irish Blonde Ale pairs wonderfully with seafood, as the citrus aromas from the Cascade hops complement the fish beautifully. For a more contrasting taste, try it with stronger flavoured food like Cajun chicken or a smoked cheese. The carbonation in beer can help to cut through rich or creamy foods — such as cheese or a curry — but the light carbonation formed by our bottle conditioning means it isn’t overly gassy so won’t leave you bloated or unable to eat.

Copper Coast Irish Red Ale has a fantastic natural complement in roasted meats as the caramel character of the crystal malt works beautifully with the roasted flavours of the meat. It is a wonderful accompaniment to pork. Contrast this ale with a light goats cheese such as Triskel, or complement it with a robust nutty cheddar. Again, the carbonation cuts through the fattiness of the cheeses to give a clean taste.

We often describe our Black Rock Irish Stout as a ‘dessert beer’ and one of the greatest ways to use it is with is, we feel, with lighter flavoured desserts such as vanilla ice cream, crème brulée etc where the roastiness of the stout contrasts beautifully with the delicate flavours of the desserts, while the vanilla notes match those present in the dessert. Being a robust beer, it also stands up well to rich, meaty dishes and is especially good with game, venison and beef. It is also the natural accompaniment to chocolate, with the chocolatey-ness of the roasted barley.

Of course, there are no rules set in stone when food and beer pairing and people will have their own preferences but we hope this serves as a useful guide to getting started.