Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Do Hoppy Beers Go Better With Spicy Food?

In writings and suggestions on pairing food with beer, it is often repeated that hoppy beers such as India Pale Ales are good pairings for spicy food. A couple of days ago I made a venison chili that had some kick to it and decided to put this claim to the test. I paired my chili with two beers: Bell's Hop Slam, an Imperial India Pale Ale that is hugely popular and quite hoppy, plus the Don De Dieu from Canada's Unibroue brewery that is a Belgian style golden ale and can be described as more malty than hoppy with a touch of sweetness.

Let me first say that I don't think there is such a thing as a "right" food pairing - if it works for you and you like it then go for it. But in this case I can say that the Don De Dieu was the winner hands down. To me the hoppy citrus/pine flavors from the Hop Slam was simply too much. It competed with the chili rather than complementing it. Plus it amplified the spice in what was already a spicy dish. The Don de Dieu, on the other hand, toned down the spice and refreshed my palate while the grainy and slightly sweet flavors added to the dish. My verdict: malty beers are better with spicy food. Try it for yourself and see what you think.

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