“There’s some great beer being made in NYC; the U.S. is now influencing what breweries are making all around the world” - Kyle Kensrue, Certified Cicerone and Director of Operations for Randolph Beer
Beer culture is on the rise, but the wrong brew to food combination can potentially ruin a diner’s meal (and a server’s tip). Sticking to a few simple rules can help you satisfy your customer and avoid returning, or worse, wasting, beer. Kyle Kensrue offers some classic pairings and guidelines for success.
Perfect Pairings by Food Type:
- Cheese - It’s tough to nail one beer to cheese in general, with such a variety of cheeses out there. When pairing a beer to a cheese plate with a variety of cheeses, go with a Saison. A saison is a belgian farmhouse ale that is great with food. It can work with even the most delicate of cheeses all the way up to biggest baddest blue.
- Pork - In general, reach for an amber or brown lager style for pork -- a munich dunkel or a bock pair well. The toasted malt character tends to highlight the flavors of the pork and provide a nice tongue-washing carbonation if the pork is covered in a sauce, like BBQ.
- Beef - Opt for a double IPA or an amber ale for burgers. Both work really well with the sweetness of the meat while providing a counter attack to the richness of the meat and cheese (and bacon should you dare).
- Chicken - Since chicken is a little lighter in the meat category, stay a little lighter in the beer style, especially if your guest are trying to eat healthy (e.g., grilled chicken and vegetables). A light pale ale can be just what the doctor ordered.
- Fish - Most fish are delicate and need a beer that’s not going to run roughshod over it. Stick with a pilsner, kolsch or helles lager to enhance the dish without overpowering it.
- Seafood - Similar to fish, a pilsner is the right light go-to for seafood. However, a fun, classic pairing is oysters with Dry Irish Stout. It doesn’t seem like it should work, but it works perfectly.
- Drinking alone (without food) - Try something new! Light, refreshing beers, like pilsner or pale ale, are great options; they have just enough flavor to stay interested, but not too much going on to distract guests from friendly conversation with their fellow guests.
On Beer Trends:
- Seasonal Beers - Seasonal beers are great. They’ve been around a long time. While I’m not a big fan of pumpkin beers anymore, I’m joining in on almost all the seasonal beers as they come.
- Imported - I like to support local as much as I can, but there are some great breweries all around the world. Cantillion in Belgium makes some of the best beers in the world.
- Domestic - Like I mentioned before, I try to support local. There’s some great beer being made in NYC. Where the original craft breweries in the 80’s and 90’s were influenced by German, English and Belgian breweries, the U.S. is now influencing what breweries are making all around the world.
- Microbreweries - Smaller breweries, micro, nano and brewpubs are great. They tend to be community gathering spots, tax revenue generators and most of all employ lots of people. Studies have been done to show that breweries are great for cities. That’s why cities try to lure breweries to their neighborhood because they know that they are a great addition.
About Kyle Kensrue:
With his passion for beer, Kyle received his Cicerone Certification and is a leading beer professional in New York City. Kyle Kensrue is also the Director of Operations for NYC restaurant group Randolph Beer. Randolph Beer is based out of Dumbo, Brooklyn with a 7,500 sq ft brewpub. They also have two gastropub satellites in Nolita and Williamsburg. He has contributed to local beer related podcasts and publications such as Beer Sessions Radio, Steal this Beer, Edible Brooklyn and Brooklyn Magazine.