But what about those of us who prefer a tall pint of suds over a dainty glass of wine with our meal? Given that we live in one of the most prolific beer-producing regions in the country, it seems that there should be a science to pairing your beer with your dinner. And luckily, there is. While not as prevalent as wine and food pairings, coupling beer with a meal is an art form in itself, says Matt Neltner, executive chef for Deschutes Brewery.
"It's similar to wine in that there are so many styles and weights of beer. Basically, you're looking for a balance between your beer and the meal. "A beer can enhance or detract from a meal," says Neltner.
Creating a tasty beer-and-food combo isn't as simple as wine's color-coded approach. Rather, one must dive deep into the taste of their beer. For example, a hoppy beer (like an IPA, which in Deschutes' case is the Inversion) tends to go well with beef, game or lamb while a spicier cuisine like Mexican food is better matched with a lighter beer. We'll let Neltner explain the science behind this.
"Fats and protein in meat coat your tongue. There's a really neat chemistry between the food, tongue and the beer to create that flavor inside your mouth," he says.
Of course, if you find yourself sweating the sixer you picked up to go with the dish you've prepared for your dinner party, remember that some microbrews are versatile and can match several different styles of dishes. Neltner says that Mirror Pond Pale Ale (which is essentially the staple beer of Central Oregon) is a "middle of the road" beer that will match up well with a variety of dishes.
But hey, if this was too much of a crash course, remember that several of our craft brewpubs either list a recommended beer pairing with each dish or have knowledgeable servers who can lend you hand. After all, drinking and eating should never stress you out. - Mike Bookey