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Craft beer and food Matching tips.

Craft beer and food Matching tips.

Craft beer and food Matching tips.

When compared with wine, craft beer unfortunately gets very little airtime when it comes to food-matching, so with over 100 beers included our Irish craft beer sale which kicks off today, I thought now would be the perfect time to look at some great food matches for some of the leading craft beer-styles.

Of course beers and wines are very different in structure, but the same basic principles apply when pairing them with food.

First of all you need to give consideration to weight/body, or richness of both the food and the Beer. The beer and the dish should be equal partners, with neither overwhelming the other. If you balance the two by weight, you raise the odds dramatically that the pairing will succeed.

If your dish is delicately flavoured such as a salad or simply grilled shellfish, you should choose a beer that won’t overwhelm it. If your dish is full-flavoured like an Irish stew for example, you should choose a beer of equal weight. If the flavours of your dish are extreme - very hot, spicy or sweet - you will want a beer that offers some respite and refreshment.

The second most important rule is to eat and drink what you like, choose a beer that you would want to drink on its own, rather than hoping a food match will improve a beer made in a style you don’t like, likewise with the food; if you can’t abide the taste of liver, it’s very unlikely that any beer pairing is going to change your opinion on this.

I have picked out below, just a few of my favourite matches, but as with wine, the real key to finding great food pairing is experimentation, so my best advice is to be adventurous and you might just find yourself surprised!

Helvick Gold (€3.59, 6 for the price 5 in the sale) is a blonde ale produced by the Dungarvan Brewing Company. For me, this beer pairs perfectly with seafood, thanks to its wonderfully crisp citrus character, this is a result of the Cascade hops used in the brew.

Even more so than stout, Irish Red Ale is probably the most traditional Irish style of beer. The Sunburnt Red Ale (€2.00, 6 for the price 5 in the sale), though comes with a twist, it is produced in Mitchelstown, Co. Cork by Scott and Cam, a Kiwi and an Aussie who were brought together by their passion for real beer. With its subtle caramel notes balanced with pleasingly fragrant aromas, this is just the beer to reach for if Irish stew is on the menu.

From the Galway Bay Brewing Company, Of Foam & Fury (€6.49, 6 for the price 5 in the sale) is a double IPA which is packed full of punchy tropical fruit aromas and sweet malty notes, all of which are beautifully balanced by the citric hit of the hops. With all those big flavours and going on, this beer is the perfect match for smoky and sticky BBQ ribs.

Of course, we couldn’t put together a tasting flight of Irish beers without including a stout, and for my last selection, I have chosen Leann Follainn (€3.19, 6 for the price 5 in the sale) from the Carlow Brewing Company. It is a full malt stout, laden with very complex chocolate and coffee flavours balanced by a delicate hoppy spiciness. So big flavours are needed to work with a beer with a full-flavoured beer such as this, I’m thinking of roast loin of Venison but Cashel blue cheese would be just as good.

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