The Perfect Match: Pairing a Pint with Food
Many may not put much thought into food and beverage pairing, but after the art of wine pairing took flight, now its casual companion, beer, is looking to up its appeal. Grub and beer pairing is gradually making its way into the culinary scene, with craft beer labels and even beer-based cocktails popping up in everyone’s favourite bars.
We spoke to three of Foodpanda’s vendors, each of them serving up great eats, with an enviable line-up of craft beers to boot. Popping by Rookery, we met Mari Cris, restaurant supervisor, who shared with us her take on the beer and food pairing. “Here at Rookery, the food is the focus, but we do have customers who ask for our recommendations when it comes to evening or post-work drinks. During the day, our dine-in diners prefer our large salad bowls, while many of our Foodpanda deliveries include our mains,” she begins explaining. Delving deeper into the issue, Mari Cris feels that wine is still the preferred tipple when it comes to complementing a meal, as most diners who do order beer tend to go for snacks and fried bites rather than full main courses.
Over at Slake, their modest but interesting collection of craft beers range from light and sweet to intense and bold, much like Brew Dog’s Tokyo Dog bottle that contains a dizzying 16.5% of alcohol. The staff still feels like their diners are much more inclined to choose a beer on tap than craft beer, mainly due to their preference for a ‘fresher’ pour that comes from a keg. Also, should beer consumers wish to consume craft beer, they always have the option of purchasing it from retail stores anyway, so the novelty of ordering one in a restaurant sort of fades in that sense, we learn. Once again, we hear that beer drinkers tend to choose small sides to accompany their pint, while diners who are sitting in for a proper meal will opt for wine or other beverages.
At Bratworks, all their beers are directly imported from Germany and they are the sole importers of Flensburger in Southeast Asia. Serving authentic German sausages as their staple menu, Bratworks works to draw in diners based on this tradition-driven concept. General Manager, G Nithi, had a chat with me about the obstacles faced when introducing a relatively unknown name to the drinking scene. “The thing is, beer is such a personal thing. Many stick to the same brands (all thanks to marketing) and ones that are familiar to them, so it’s less likely that they’ll risk trying something new only to dislike it,” he elaborates.
When it comes to flavour profiling beer however, all three establishments agree that the general rule is that darker, heavier beers complement richer, meatier dishes because they won’t get cancelled out or get watered down in taste. G Nithi offers Bratworks’ grilled krakauer sausage – a variety that consists of both pork and beef tendons – to match Flensburger Dunkel, as the beer is full-bodied. On the flip side, Flensburger Gold would go better with the bockwurst, a boiled pork sausage that’s mild on the palate, allowing the beer to provide a refreshing and light finish.
From our beer-trippin’ journey, here’s what we discovered:
Asahi Super Dry (on Tap)
With its barley and crisp taste, Asahi was a hit with the pulled pork ragout linguine. The finish was clean, light and even slightly zesty, we might add. It was definitely an eye-opening palate experience as the taste of pork is known to linger on long after that first bite.
Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 (on tap)
Kronenbourg Blanc 1664 went decently well with their popular warm spiced pumpkin salad. It makes for a gratifyingly light meal for when you want to escape Singapore’s heat, with that little bit of guilty pleasure that comes with a mid-day pint. It brought out a mild fruitiness to the vinaigrette dressing, together with an almost-floral note that proved to be totally refreshing and re-invigorating!
Their roast beef tenderloin was amazingly brought to life with the Kronenbourg Blanc 1664. Meat is naturally savoury and coats your senses effortlessly in just one bite. We first took a sip of the beer then chewed on a hearty cut of the tenderloin to find it slightly sweet mid-chew and ending milder than it would’ve been otherwise. Even with a sauce, Kronenbourg held its own and didn’t struggle to come through at all.
We fell instantly in love with the first sip, as Gosnells Mead tastes nothing like what you’d expect from a typical beer. Made from citrus honey blossom and water, this mead beverage is thirst-quenching, refreshing and can be described as grown-up juice (in a good way, don’t worry!). Since its flavour is very forgiving, it serves as an ideal appetite opener, so think salads and most appetisers. We had beef rendang nachos and we could appreciate the richness of the rendang gravy, the beef as well as the fragrance of the beverage on the nose, all at the same time. Instant entry to the pleasure zone!
When drunk with Slake’s spice rubbed Norwegian mackerel, it hit all the right sweet spots! The mackerel was flaky on the inside and crispy on the outside, while each sip elevated the fish’s natural sweetness, translating into each mouthful being a winning combination of flavour and texture.
Brewdog Dead Pony Club Pale Ale
It states that this is inspired by US-styled pale ales, explaining its potent citrus notes of lemongrass and lime. So what would go well with something with an acidic edge? Rich, thick sauces or gravy, much like the beef rending nachos, is what. The dish provides balance to the drink, and in return the drink will comfort your palate with a light zesty lift.
Eet & Bierlokaal de Molen
Definitely not an amateur’s pick, this Dutch beer is a mighty one. Right from the first sniff, it’s akin to taking a whiff of light soya sauce. We don’t know if that’s a good sign, but upon that virgin sip our taste buds woke right up! It’s bold, powerful, heavily smoked, malty and intensely reminiscent of potent stout. It didn’t go well with whatever we had ordered, but we reckon straight up deep-fried pub grub should do the trick.
Quirkily enough, this stout was inspired by the classic space invaders arcade game that became a cult favourite in Japan. The Brewdog Tokyo is the label’s affectionately named “intergalactic stout” and contains tons of malt, jasmine, cranberries and hops, which is then aged with French oak chips. The result is a punch of robustness that hits you instantly, and something you are either a fan of, or totally against. We are the latter. But to whoever can learn to appreciate this recipe, we highly recommend it to be enjoyed very chilled.
Erdinger Weissbier (on tap)
Light, slightly sweet and a familiar in most drinking holes, Erdinger Weissbier goes down effortless, and complements all three dishes we had, especially the Hay Bee Hiam Gnocchi (prawn paste gnocchi). The dish had a sambal vibe to it, with a touch of spiciness, which the beer was great in neutralising – without watering down the overall flavour. Feeling like a pint on a humid day? This is a great pick.
Kirin Ichiban (on tap)
With much of its emphasis on the quality of malts and hops used, Kirin Ichiban lives up to its promise of being a clean and refreshing alcoholic beverage. Thoroughly able to be enjoyed on its own, in our pairing attempt, it matched well with all three dishes at Slake. It didn’t overpower the dishes with any floral finish nor did it dampen on flavours. It’s unobtrusive in nature and can make instant friends with all types of cuisines in the culinary world.
This classic brew is expectedly fresh and crisp and can serve well to quench your thirst for hours, especially if you’re planning to down a few at a social gathering. Having said that, it goes well with all three sausages we enjoyed – bockwurst, curry wurst and kakauer.
A chill respite from the scorching heat – this is what you’ll instantly be thankful for when the beer hits the back of your throat. A drink that goes down easily, we took a special liking for the krakauer and gold combination, given the sausage’s less smoky flavours (in comparison to the other two).
It’s described as “the dark side of pleasure”, the dunkel is recommended to go with hearty meat, in order for it to have equal ground and representation on your palate. No drink should ever dominate a meal, and for the dunkel to achieve that, it requires a strong complement.
The wheat beer from Flensburg is known to be fruity, aromatic yet light in body. We can only guess that this one’s a player in all fields and might actually go well with dishes that have slightly creamier textures as well as body.
We’re no strangers to Radler twists on beers, having seen them on other beers already. We also know what that means; the beer tends to go almost fruit juice- or lemonade-esque on us – which is fine if you’re not a huge fan of beers that go towards the malty or hoppy end of the spectrum. However, as far as serious beer drinkers go, we know of a few that wouldn’t touch a Radler anything with a ten-feet pole. With that in mind, this Radler is a good initiation to beer-drinking and will undoubtedly be a safe option to go with any meal.
Wani’s writing has always spoken on her behalf far more than the spoken word. Her emotional relationship with food is almost as intense as her crazy love for HIIT workouts. Having had experience writing about all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey on foodpanda Magazine.