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Beer is the new gourmet food

With a rich palette of flavours and a broader aroma variety than wine, beer is being paired up with gourmet food across the globe. Food just got beerilicious. Here's how.

india Updated: May 06, 2011 14:03 IST
Shara Ashraf
Shara Ashraf
Hindustan Times

Thought only a Pinot Noir could do justice to that honey crusted smoked lamb rack? Letting Susanne Hecht, a beer sommelier from Germany change your mind can be an exciting experience. "For every dish whipped up on this planet, there is a beer born to go with it. Beers have a much broader aroma variety than wine or any other beverage due to the vast variety of hops used.

Even barley and other grains are treated differently in the beer making process, resulting in a wide palette of flavours," says Hecht, who was at the Beer Café, Ambience Mall, Vasant Kunj recently to hold a beer tasting session. We may have woken up slowly to the endless possibilities of teaming up beer with food, but a growing number of gourmet restaurants across the world are now pairing beer with gourmet spreads, says the sommelier.

BeerThe beer-food marriage

The trick of marrying beer with food is simple: The beer should not overpower the food and the aromas must match. "If you have oily or rich food, go for a rich beer such as Schneider Weisse from Bavaria, Germany, that retains a bit of yeast when bottled," says Hecht who trained at the Schneider Brewery in Bavaria that opened way back in 1872.

Having spice laden food? Hoppy beers are a tad bitter in taste due to more of hops (female flower clusters called seed cones or strobiles) in them and make spicy food taste heavenly. Dark or sweeter beers made with roasted malt should be chosen for dessert or rich cheese. "A Trappist beer from Belgium such as Chimay will liven up a Belgian cheese spread," says the sommelier.

A diverse palette

Hecht is delighted with the response she got from beer enthusiasts in the Capital. "It’s exciting to let people experience how diverse beer can be. Flavourful craft beers (those brewed without adjuncts such as rice or corn) will soon become part of gourmet experience in India," she says.

So, how’s the beer drinking culture back home? "Beer is our liquid bread," she laughs. On a serious note, she says, "If you go to South Germany, you would see people drinking beer even in the morning, teaming it sausage." Germany even had purity law (Reinheitsgebot) till 1993 that laid out that the only ingredients that could be used in the production of beer were water, barley, and hops. "We have more than 1000 breweries in Germany, but few styles. We mainly have Helles, a lager beer, Dunkel, Pilsner and wheat beer," shares Hecht.

What’s popular

Beers that are gaining popularity across the globe are specialty beers such as honey beer, chilli beer, herb and spiced beer, led by wheat beers, Trappist beers (brewed under control of Trappist monks), and IPAs (India Pale Ale). Beer comes with health benefits too. Beer contains vitamins from the yeast and hops. It also aids digestion and has less calories than other beverages. "It’s the mindless snacking that beer drinkers indulge in that leads to weight gain. But yes, always drink in moderation," says Hecht.Health Facts

Low calories: One glass of beer may contain 75 to 24 calories (the count varies for different varieties) and that is less as compared to other alcoholic drinks, says Dr Nidhi Sareen, nutritionist, Fortis Lefemme.

Vitamins: Beer contains vitamins such as magnesium, potassium and phosphorus that boost up your health.

BeerReduces stroke risks: Beer can also reduce the risk of heart attack by 20-50% when had in moderation.

For a healthy brain: Beer also keeps your brain healthy. Studies show that when had in moderation, it can reduce the risk of brain impairment by 40%.

Food pairing

Hoppy beers that have a slightly bitter taste (such as Fuller’s London Pride or Brooklyn East Indian Pale Ale) liven up dishes laced with spices.

Dark or sweeter beers (such as Erdinger Weissbier Dunkel made with roasted malt) are good companions for desserts or cheese due to their silky smooth flavour.

Salad, seafood, and barbecued meat team up well with wheat beer (such as Paulaner from the Bavarian region of Germany).
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