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A question of semantics?

In today's blog post Alan once again rants against the use of the word "pairing" when speaking about beer and food combinations.

I understand and, to a certain extent, I agree with his point of view. Those who know about beer, or who are experienced and curious drinkers don't really need to be instructed on which beer should be drank with this or that food. We are very well able to do that by ourselves by means of trial and error. And many times we don't even bother with that, really. At home we drink světlý ležák with most dinners, regardless of what they are made of, because that is what I always have at hand. Still there are times when I cook something thinking about a specific beer, or pick a beer that will best match what I have prepared.

Anyway, the reality is that we are a small minority. Most people do not associate "beer" with a drink, but rather with a brand or a funny ad. So, I see it as a positive thing that the mainstream media is more and more talking about combinations of food and beer. That they use the word "pairing" for that is something irrelevant really, because thanks to it there will be more people that will start considering beer as a good (if not better) alternative to wines and therefore, as a drink.

At the same time, it's true that many times the pairings are put in a context of exclusivity and luxury, mentioning dishes that few of us has ever eaten and probably will ever eat, which is something that bothers many.

Personally, I would like to see more beer and food "pairings" with traditional meals, or with simple stuff, of the kind that people usually prepare at home. I think it's great that there are people trying to get beer into places where it's been long ignored, but emphasis should also be put on good beer as an every day thing for everyone to enjoy.

To wrap this up, and to add fuel to Alan's Canadian fire, I will leave you with this article (actually, the Google translation of it) published in the Colombian newspaper El Espectador. There, the author, Hugo Sabogal (apparently, a renown wine, etc. writer), all wide-eyed, gives us the news that an Australian brewpub has created some beers with specific food pairings in mind.

What a great idea! Beers that can match foods! How come nobody has thought of that before!

Na Zdraví!


  1. I am really quite a calm person, even about pairing. Canadians have a hard time being fired up about anything in January!

  2. Just to make you feel warmer... (I hope reading the linked article didn't make your temples ache, and if it did, what better excuse to have a beer?)

  3. I am not convinced that pairing beer and food is anything new, it has been going on in pubs across the world for as long as pubs have sold food. What goes better with a Ploughman's Lunch than a pint of Best? What could beat smazeny syr with a twelve degree lager?

    It is certainly a case of a wider range of beer and food pairings, but it is in no way new - it is just that the middle classes have caught on and as ever like to ponce around with things.

    Eat what you like and drink what you want with it, that's my food pairing rule!

    (sorry, feeling somewhat strident today.)

  4. Must be the thinner blood rushing through your veins...:)

    It's my rule, too, basically.

    As for the rest, you are right on about pubs. But then, you go to a restaurant and all you can choose is a 0.33l bottle of Pilsner Urquell (if you are lucky). Why? Well, people only order "beer". Now if restaurant owners saw the business potential in having a "beer list", we would all win. (Though here in the Czech Rep. you would have to teach people that bottled beer can be as good as draught in some cases, but that's something else)

  5. Nice piece. For me, pairing beer is food is no different to pairing beer to the weather or to your mood, plus it adds a little extra enjoyment to eating (if done well).

    I don't pair all my food with beer and vice versa. Some pairings don't work but it doesn't matter, I'm hardly going to throw them both away and start again! It just adds an extra dimension, if you want it to be there. It should be a natural thing though, not forced or enforced.

  6. I guess it depends in what direction you take it, if you go the direction to be a beer snob and yadayadayada then I think it is an issue.

    Pairing is more of a thing nowadays mainly because we have access to many more beer styles, my Russian Imperial Stout will overpower any flavour from food x so I can drink it with it because I feel that way or if I have selection I will drink another style with it so I enjoy the flavours from the food, the beer and the combination of the food and beer together.

    Anyways interesting points from both sides of the fence. And the Simcoe Double IPA I drank yesterday during a nice warm chinook wind (+8 C outside) would have tasted great with anything! :-)

  7. Jake,

    That is the point, it's nice to see beer mentioned together with some posh cuisine, it'll be nicer to see it together with normal food, and not just a beer brand, as it is the case many times, but beer as a drink, with the different styles, etc.

    Of course, if someone likes drinking an Eisbock with steamed fish, that's their thing, and nobody should tell them otherwise.

  8. Where is the distinction between posh cuisine and well prepared cusisine, is it just in the presentation?

    I agree with your commenet about the beer brand its a difficult thing to move away from as everything most people look for is marketed some way.

    Eisbock and steamed fish, sounds interesting....

  9. Good question,

    I think it's a matter of the restaurant and the prices they charge. Sometimes its justified, better quality ingredients, etc, others is just a rip-off.

    Presentation? Personally, I don't give too much of a toss about it. I prefer something that's been put on a plate in a rush, but tastes good that those sculptures that fortunately seem to be coming out of fashion.

  10. BTW, never tried Eisbock with steamed fish, but I think it would be a waste of good fish...:)


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