Beer and food
Why match beer and food?
Beer is a very versatile accompaniment to food, offering a range of flavours that work perfectly with a variety of food. Good beer and food matches are all about balance so be careful not to overpower either component.
Matching can be about contrasting flavours – the zippy, citrus notes of Howling Gale Ale point up the sweetness of caramelized onion or roast garlic. Or try a complimentary pairing: the sweetness of lamb works well with the caramel flavours in Sunburnt Irish Red.
The different flavour components of beer can also be utilised in matches. For example, the bitterness of the hops can cut through fat to allow flavour shine, while nutty malts can complement roasted meats. Even carbonation has an important role to play, cleaning the palate with each sip and allowing you to really appreciate what you are eating and drinking.
Barefoot Bohemian Pilsner Lager ABV 4%
Tasting notes: It has a subtle biscuit malt base balanced by a generous lashing of Czech hops giving a nice hop brightness and peppery, spicy aroma from the Saaz hops. It has been aged in conditioning tanks and filtered to give a nice crisp finish. Like always: no chemicals, additives and preservatives.This is a clear, pale golden colour. This is light on the palate, clean and delicate, but with plenty of sophisticated flavour. There’s enough bitterness to make it interesting, and a little spiciness from the hops.
With food: amazing with pizza and able to cutting through the melted mozzarella, snappy bitterness really good with the sweetness of shellfish, sharp and dry enough to drink as an aperitif in champagne flutes, good with Vietnamese/Thai spices, hop notes play with cumin and coriander in Mexican dishes, stands up to oily fish like mackerel, salmon, Irish caviar, the fat of ham. Avoid delicate fish or a beefy winter stew.
In food: pizza dough, salad dressing, fluffy American pancakes, waffles
Howling Gale Ale ABV 5%
Tasting notes: Like blitzing down the Ballyhouras on your bike with an icy wind in your face, this delivers a refreshing crisp smack around the gills. Howling Gale is a refreshing pale ale hopped with American Chinook, Amarillo and Centennial hops. Characterised by a moderate hop bitterness, balanced with slightly biscuit and caramel pale malt body, it has a pleasant grapefruit and citrus aroma.
With food: Fresh and crisp, with moderate bitterness, this ale makes sure that spicy or fried food never becomes palate-clogging. Pale Ales are traditionally seen a great foil for spicy food – there’s a little bit of sweetness there that will cut the chilli burn – but don’t miss the chance to have Howling Gale with fish and chips (or in the batter for the fish!). It’s well worth trying with a Cashel Blue and Broccoli Gratin, the bright citrus notes act like a squeeze of lemon with smoked salmon or pair it with semi-soft, washed rind cheeses like Milleens, Durrus and Gubbeen. It has a similar flavour profile to New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and can be paired with many of the same foods: fish, seafood, summer salads, chicken or anything off the barbeque.
In food: It is important to remember that cooking with beer concentrates flavour so be careful not to reduce this hoppy ale too much as the bitterness may become overpowering. Used judiciously, it can add flavour to the broth used to cook mussels, is delicious in a chicken and ale pie and adds piquancy to roast garlic mashed potatoes.
Sunburnt Irish Red ABV 5%
Tasting notes: Like an Irishman on holiday in the Canaries, this beer has a red tint and a chilled out, mellow feel. Sunburnt Irish Red takes the characteristic sweet caramel malt and burnt barley of an Irish red ale and adds additional malt complexity by using six different malts. The malt body is counterbalanced with Australian and New Zealand hops, adding a modern twist to the traditional style.
With food: Serve with a cheese and charcuterie platter: mature cheddar cheese (like Hegarty’s), Gubbeen salami and chorizo, fresh crusty bread, crisp apples and dried figs.There are enough hops here to stand up to the sharp cheese and cut through the richness of the cured sausage. The sweetness of the figs also compliments the caramel notes of the beer. Buttery, rich cheeses, whether it has a bloomy rind – eg Cooleeney Farmhouse Cheese, Wicklow Baun – or a washed rind like Cais Rua work well here, the carbonation in the ale effectively cleaning the palate between each bite. Lamb – sweet and ever so slightly fatty – is also a good pairing. Match with a traditional Irish stew or make some lamb burgers, with lots of rosemary, and let the Sunburnt Irish Red shine through.
In food: This is a good beer to use in a Cheese and Herb Beer Bread, the sweetness going well with a well-flavoured mature farmhouse cheddar cheese like Hegarty’s, Coolattin or Mount Callan. It’s also good used as the liquid in a simple cheese fondue or for adding a little sweetness to the gravy for a spicy sausage and mash combination. Use as a braising liquid for slow-cooked pork shoulder or add to a venison stew.
Knockmealdown Porter ABV 5%
Tasting notes: Like tackling the Knockmealdowns in a blizzard, this beer is not for wimps. Our evolution of the traditional Irish stout, it resembles a Victorian-era Irish porter and provides complex dark malt characteristics with distinctive espresso flavours. Without the weight of a stout, the porter is well rounded with mellow English hops.
With food: When the weather is cold, a traditional beef and stout stew is always a winner. For something completely different, hold the porter for the sweeter end of the meal; just make sure you keep the sugar content of the beer balanced with the pudding. Bold chocolate and espresso flavours make it good compliment to a dense, but not over-sweet, chocolate cake or contrast the sweetness of the porter with the saltiness of blue cheese and oatcakes.
In food: Reduced, the porter makes a great base for a complex caramel sauce, which can be served as it is or incorporated into truffles or ice cream. It can be baked into bread – a wholemeal loaf incorporating blue cheese is good – makes lovely dense brownies and is great in a cocoa-based chocolate cake. It is also a good beer to use in a chunky Mexican chilli, making the beef taste that bit beefier.