We all know beer goes with wings, burgers and pizza — even meatless pizza. But what about other meatless dishes? Does beer work well with vegetarian food?
John Schlimm, award-winning author of "The Ultimate Beer Lover's Happy Hour" and great-great-grandson of Peter Straub (founder of the country's third-oldest brewery, Straub Brewery), says "absolutely." He's put together this handy infographic to make it easy to pair beer with vegetarian and vegan foods.
Make sure to scroll all the way down past the infographic because I have an interview with Schlimm, who explains terms like "malty" and "hoppy" for those who are still trying to identify those two prominent characteristics in beer (myself included).
Infographic courtesy of Pots Planters & More
MNN: You talk about malty and hoppy. For people who are unfamiliar with how to identify those in a beer, describe what malty and hoppy are like to the taste buds.
John Schlimm: Malty and hoppy are opposite ends of the beer taste spectrum.
Malty beers, such as an amber lager, are smooth and gentle on the taste buds. Maltier beers are especially great for the duration — when you're having one after another after another at a party or tailgating. And, malty beers are great transitional beers for folks who lean more toward wine and cocktails, but are open to giving beer a chance. Malty beers are how we beer lovers persuade non-beer drinkers to join our team!
Hoppy beers, such as IPAs, are strong in character and electrify the taste buds. Firm, robust and deliciously bitter are all ways to describe a hobby brew. All the die-hard beer connoisseurs out there for the most part love hoppy beer. They enjoy seeking out and sampling the different varieties that are available. Like an art collector amasses his or her collection, hobby beer lovers slowly build their sampling portfolio of hop-heavy beers. While all beer is an art form, the creation of a rich, hobby brew that takes our taste buds to the edge without knocking you over is a craft that only the best of the best brewmasters have perfected, and that pure magic is evident from the first sip onward.
Personally, I lean to the maltier side, but I still love to slip a well-crafted hop-heavy brew into my Friday night beer lineup every once in a while!
Why does malt work with sweet?
The union of malty beers and sweeter foods is simply a case of complementary flavor profiles at their best. This is a win-win pairing that will satisfy the majority of your guests no matter where they fall along the Beer Taste Spectrum. Think amber-style lager meets spaghetti with marinara sauce, or a dunkel gets down and busy with a slice of vanilla cake, pancakes and syrup, or sugar cookies. (BTW, malty beers also make a fantastic additional ingredient to soups, stews, sauces and desserts.)
Why does hoppy work with savory?
The pairing of hoppy beers and savory eats — those rich, comforting, hearty dishes — is a case of matching strength to strength, robust to robust. For example, pairing a spicy black bean veggie burger with a hop-eccentric IPA turns grabbing a burger and beer on a Friday night into an unforgettable feast. There is a certain fortitude and majesty to hoppy beers that is not for the faint of heart, but rather for the adventurers and risk takers, and the weekend warriors of fun and mischief.
What was the biggest surprise pairing you found as you were researching this?
In compiling "The Ultimate Guide to Craft Beer & Vegetarian Food Pairings," which is inspired by my "Ultimate Beer Lover's Happy Hour" cookbook, which contains over 325 vegetarian/vegan recipes and cocktails paired with beer, there wasn't one particular pairing that surprised me (I savored them all!). What I ultimately discovered in my research is just how versatile beer is — in its many styles — for pairing with just about every food out there (short of maybe cereal) as both a sidekick and often as an unexpected and fun ingredient!