Food and wine pairing have a long history of examination, but beer pairing is a relatively new field of study. The Brewer’s Association is actively working to develop a lexicon to use in analysis, and some culinary schools and chef-professors are already designing curriculums in their programs to involve beer as well as spirit pairings courses. It’s a daunting process, however, and one that isn’t all that similar to wine pairing theory. Beer has potentially hundreds of flavor components, and furthermore certain people are more and less sensitive to some of those flavors by nature. My aim in these forthcoming short articles is to examine some classic (and not so classic) beer and food pairings and pinpoint just a few reasons why they work. As always, personal taste differs, so follow your tongue!
Today I’m taking a look at a classic winter combination: stout and potatoes. For this I chose a dry, Irish-style stout with a silky mouthfeel, a decent roasted malt character and moderately low hop bitterness. Stout and potatoes in many incarnations are friends, but I particularly think a creamy mashed potato dish (especially with a touch of buttermilk or sour cream and some rich Irish butter) is a winner. March approaches and, green beer aside, I know some out there are St. Patrick’s Day enthusiasts out there. If not, it’s a great excuse to have some good beer and hearty, fulfilling food. But before you fill your belly, let’s break it down a bit.