Eating out should be fun, enjoyable and relaxing all at the same time. But how many times have you encountered a scenario where you’ve chosen what you want to eat, but are stumped when it comes to drinks? This is especially so when you want an alcoholic drink that’ll go with your meal well, that isn’t wine (because let’s imagine you’re feeling adventurous and want to try an interesting pint to pair with your food).
We tucked into dinner at one of foodpanda’s vendors – Bistroquet, which is known for its slew of craft beers, and tried three different bottles to see which one would go well with the very common pizza and pasta fare. We ordered relatively safe options, starting with deep fried calamari and french fries with wasabi mayonnaise. Our mains included chicken pesto penne in cream sauce and a margherita pizza.
By keeping the flavours of our food basic, we felt like it wouldn’t create too much conflict on our palate when trying to pair our drinks. So, for drinks we settled with Wittekerke Wheat Beer, Crabbie’s Strawberry & Lime Alcoholic Ginger Beer and Rekorderlig Wild Berries.
Wittekerke Wheat Beer: Belgian brewery, Brouwerij De Brabandere, states that a true wheat beer must be made of at least 25% wheat malt in combination with barley malt. Belgian wheat beers are naturally cloudy since they are unfiltered. According to our taste test, it went down easy and smooth, leaving a slightly bitter note at the end, but overall refreshing and quite aromatic.
Crabbie’s Strawberry & Lime Alcoholic Ginger Beer: Although this is supposed to be alcoholic, there was barely any hint of alcohol present, instead giving way to a sort of strawberry lemonade-tasting beverage. It makes for a great crisp drink on a warm day, and a good recommendation for ginger beer virgins.
Rekorderlig Wild Berries: From our experience, Swedish ciders tend to fall in the sweet spectrum, and this is no different. However, this one is bursting with a potent aroma of wild fruits, which contributes its overall sweet-sour profile. If you like ciders that aren’t saccharine sweet, you may want to give this a go.
Starter: French fries with wasabi mayonnaise
Wittekerke Wheat Beer: Who doesn’t love beer with a side of fries? When this wheat beer was enjoyed with this simple pub grub, the bitterness (of the beer) was actually reduced, with the wasabi mayonnaise still being able to come through. It gives the experience an odd spicy kick, but not one that’s off-putting (at least to us).
Crabbie’s Strawberry & Lime Alcoholic Ginger Beer: Somehow the salt from the fries enhanced the sweetness of the beer(how is that possible, we asked?!), so now we had a dessert-like finish to a savoury side. Not a huge fan of this combination, personally.
Rekorderlig Wild Berries: As if the cider itself wasn’t a tad sour on its own; the french fries just elevated the sourness even more! The wild berries became more fragrant on the nose and it most likely isn’t something we’d try again any time soon.
Verdict: Wittekerke Wheat Beer won this round. We guess there’s a reason fried food and beer are well-known BFFs.
Starter: Deep-fried calamari
Wittekerke Wheat Beer: The wheat beer washes the greasiness down effortlessly, resulting in a great refreshing and cleansing pairing. The sweetness of the squid itself isn’t affected; in fact, the overall taste coats the palate which creates a smooth ending.
Crabbie’s Strawberry & Lime Alcoholic Ginger Beer: Just like the wheat beer, the ginger beer assists in downplaying the grease in the calamari’s batter, which is always welcome. In addition, it also brought out the sweetness of the squid meat and made this pairing an absolute delight!
Rekorderlig Wild Berries: This one was a neutral match, with neither dish nor cider really bringing out the best or worst in the other. They managed to stand out in their respective flavours, which could be a good thing if you want to be able to distinguish the two without them merging into just one overall flavour profile.
Verdict: Crabbie’s Strawberry & Lime Alcoholic Ginger Beer takes this round, as it seems to be able to bring out the sweetness of the seafood, despite it being heavily battered.
Main: Chicken pesto penne in cream sauce
Wittekerke Wheat Beer: With cream, we always try to go with something light, and the wheat beer successfully matches this slightly heavy dish. It brings an acidic edge to the eating experience, making every spoonful even more enjoyable! The sauce’s consistency remains smooth, velvety and doesn’t leave that coat of cream that some cream sauces tend to do.
Crabbie’s Strawberry & Lime Alcoholic Ginger Beer: Yikes! We weren’t sure if it was us, but the moment we took a sip of the ginger beer right after a spoonful of pasta, a huge wave of sweetness hit us. The sugar content in the ginger beer was definitely elevated on the palate with the presence of the rich cream sauce, which made the duo not very complementary.
Rekorderlig Wild Berries: We assumed that the sour taste of the wild berries would balance out the cream sauce, but alas! It was another sweet pairing, much to our surprise. Although it wasn’t as sweet as with the ginger beer, the best way we could describe it is akin to enjoying a glass of champagne with a rich dish.
Verdict: It was a tough choice to make between the wheat beer and the cider, but we enjoyed the first combination slightly more. The match was effortless and really allowed us to enjoy the pasta dish to the last spoonful without that familiar overly-satiated feeling in our stomachs.
Main: Margherita pizza
Wittekerke Wheat Beer: There’s absolutely nothing to complain about here; pizza and beer is like hitting a mini jackpot! The mozzarella cheese is fragrant and isn’t lost in the wheat beer’s maltiness, while the wheat beer itself polishes off the grease so that you’re ready to dive into the next bite of pizza.
Crabbie’s Strawberry & Lime Alcoholic Ginger Beer: Because this ginger beer is quite sweet on its own, it seems to overpower the pizza. What happens is an overriding sweetness that carries on throughout, all while the mozzarella cheese fights to come through on the palate. The pairing leaves a little to be desired, unfortunately.
Rekorderlig Wild Berries: Ever wanted to find out how fruits and cheese go together? Well, grapes are known to be an ideal match, but it seems wild berries aren’t. Both cheese and berries are potent in aroma, so the result is this slightly off potion of floral notes when trying to enjoy the two together. It isn’t something we would personally recommend.
Hands down, the wheat beer wins. The next time we want to enjoy a pint with a slice, we’ll stick to a good ol’ beer and keep the ciders to when we want to kick back and chill.
It seems that beer is pretty versatile when it comes to being paired with food. Sweeter or fruity drinks might not fare as well, but we all know that taste is a very personal preference. From this experience, we’ve learnt that we definitely need to get out there and find ourselves more beers to keep pairing with our food!
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 written all things lifestyle, Wani now embarks on her freelance journey, journalling her epicurean trails and sweaty gym sessions with relentless fervor.