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Your Roadmap to Food-and-Beer Pairing Adventures

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By: Elizabeth Winslow
Your Roadmap to Food-and-Beer Pairing Adventures

More than just a sudsy complement to backyard BBQ, beer is coming into its own as a food-enhancing beverage worthy of pairing with a wide range of dishes and cuisines. With flavor profiles spanning bitter to sweet, and every nuance imaginable in between, it's possible that beer might be even more food-friendly than wine.

The beer-making process opens up a world of pairing possibilities. Hops, which are the flower of the female hop plant, are added at various stages of boiling to contribute flavor, aroma, and bitterness. A range of fruits, herbs, and spices incorporated during brewing also add their own unique flavors.

When pairing food with any beverage, start by imagining possibilities for both contrasting and complementary flavors. A broad knowledge of beer styles is helpful, too. Wine connoisseurs can find common ground by comparing ale to red wine (suited to heartier dishes) and lager to white wine (best for more delicate flavors). A beer that exhibits bitter, hoppy flavors is great in a pairing that would be suited for a more acidic wine. Stout is malty, rich, and dark, and pairs well with chocolate and any foods you'd enjoy with a big, deep red. Some beers, like pale ales, feature zesty notes and are perfectly matched for spicy cuisines.

With these guidelines in mind, visit your favorite local brewery or well stocked local outlet for craft beers, find the perfect recipes for pairing, and invite some adventurous friends for a night of beer and food fun. We'll get you started here with some of our favorite beers paired with some of our favorite creations that feature the authentic flavors of Spice Islands® spices.

Feijoada - The rich, spicy flavors in this Brazilian classic contrast perfectly with a crisp, clean ale.

Sirloin Steak with Blue Cheese Walnut Butter - The bold flavors in this hearty winter dish are complemented by the deep flavor profile of a heavy porter sipped alongside.

Louisiana Gumbo - A medium-bodied, slightly spicy bock beer loves Cajun food.

Blackened Spicy Fish - Light and slightly bitter lager is brilliant with both seafood and spices.

Coconut Pork Stir Fry - Pilsner is the perfect match for Thai flavors, and frothy bubbles cut through the richness of creamy coconut.

Chocolate Stout Cupcakes - What better pairing could you dream up for these rich chocolate cupcakes than the stout you stirred into the batter?

Hazelnut Fig Tart - A fruit-forward lambic is lovely with figs and won't overwhelm the delicate, buttery pastry in this dessert.

Elizabeth Winslow is a writer, food blogger, teacher, and entrepreneur in Austin, Texas. She is a regular contributor to Edible Austin and creates compelling content for brands both large and small. She has an M.A. in Literature from the University of Texas at San Antonio and teaches cooking classes with Kitchen Underground. Winslow + co.

Spice Islands® spices deliver high quality, authentic flavors from all over the world so you can put the most delicious meals on your table.

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