Food and beverages pairings have long been the domain of wine, but a connoisseur will quickly tell you that the idea of pairing being exclusively the domain of wine is outdated. In the 21st century, beer is making appearances on the menu, and it’s more than just an afterthought. Beer happens to be a very food-friendly beverage. There’s so many variations on how to create a delectable brew that there’s room for all sorts of flavor complements. However, one thing is always true—fine beers such as Stella Artois deserve to be complemented by high-end foods.
Play to the Food. In wine pairing, whites typically go with poultry and fish—the lighter dishes—while bolder reds are at home with rich, deep and often red meat entrees. A similar consideration can help beer-pairing novices try their hand at matching upscale foods with fine beers. A delicate beer, such as Stella Artois, succeeds nearly every time with lighter dishes such as seafood, whether it’s scallops, lobster or freshly caught fish. Keep in mind, though, that this is only step one of beer pairing—as a person grows in skill, they can find the exceptions to the light/dark tradition, finding that Stella Artois can pair with a number of fine foods.
Find the Flavor Complement. A pairing typically succeeds with both items have a common flavor or aroma, but are different enough to complement rather than compete with each other. For example, a Belgian pilsner like Stella Artois has a slight sweetness to it, just like many Thai dishes that are made with a hint of palm sugar, but the mild malt and light hops in the brew won’t compete with the unique flavors of lemongrass, coconut and lime kaffir. The specific hops used in beer makes a difference, too. The Saaz hops using in the making of Stella Artois cuts through creamy dishes, hard cheese and seafood to keep your palate refreshed through the entire meal.
Consider the Carbonation. A well-carbonated beer can stand up to the richest of dishes, as one might find in a fine-dining restaurant. Dishes such as foie gras, kobe beef and lobster fall flat with a low-carbonation stout or cask-conditioned beer; however, a bright carbonation that’s typically in beers like Stella Artois cut through that richness to truly accentuate the flavor.
Pair with a Dessert. A sweet ending is typically reserved for dark stouts or sweeter porters, but don’t count out other types of beers to pair with desserts. For example, the malt in Stella Artois works well when paired with a fruit pie or cobbler—it complement the crust, while and the fruit and hops contrast each other.
Don’t Overthink It. Here’s something great about beer of all sorts: It’s very forgiving when it comes to food. When a wine isn’t paired well with food, it can have a negative effect on the meal. However, it’s unlikely that someone will make a big mistake in pairing.
The truth is, the best way to learn how to pair Stella Artois with any number of fine foods is to experiment. Head to your favorite high-end restaurant and ask for a Stella Artois—take a sip, take a bit and then take another sip. When the pairing works, you’ll know you did it right.