Beer and sweets make for terrific companions sometimes. The flavours of chocolate, caramel, coffee-like flavours, and fruity flavours abound in your favourite bubbly beverages, and the possibility of matching flavours opens the door to some game-changing after-dinner combinations. Matching tastes is not the only factor when pairing drinks with any food. Other factors at play can wonderfully create (or disastrously ruin) the match.
The following are some points to think about.
When deciding how well beer goes with dessert, the beer’s sweetness should be your first and foremost consideration. Your experience of the beer you’re drinking with your dessert will be altered because of the sugar in the dessert. Adding a sugary dessert might throw off a beer’s flavour profile.
If the food has a detectable higher level of sweetness than the beer, the two together will taste very sweet. When paired with a sweet dessert, the beer has taken on a comparably dry flavour, and flavour characteristics that were before muted by sweetness are now brought to the forefront and take up an unpleasant position on the tongue. Bitterness, alcohol, and acidity become abruptly more assertive, which may derail even the most well-planned match.
To avoid potentially disastrous flavour interactions, you should ensure that the beer you select is at least as sweet as the dessert it will be served with, if not sweeter.
A frequently stated guideline states that the intensity of the beverages provided with a multi-course dinner need to grow as the meal goes on. The concept behind this hypothesis is that dialling back the level of intensity would result in the beverage having a less robust flavour when compared to its predecessors. As a direct consequence, desserts are frequently offered alongside monster brews.
The idea has some merit, but when put into practice, these combinations only sometimes work well. Barleywine, imperial stout, and double IPA all make their way into the role of palate-crushing beverages after meals more frequently than is reasonable. They may work, but save these beers for the most decadent, fatty, and mouth-coating treats possible. For instance, flourless chocolate cake and imperial stout have traditionally been served together. This combination is a stroke of genius: the cake’s denseness, fattiness, and richness are sufficient to shield the palate from the harsh bitterness and alcohol of the beer while simultaneously allowing the tastes to blend perfectly. But you should avoid pairing the same imperial stout with a simple piece of really dark chocolate because even while the flavours could combine, the harsh alcoholic notes of the high-alcohol beer will prevail if there isn’t a lot of fat to coat the tongue.
When in doubt, it’s best to serve sweets with beers that aren’t quite as bitter or as alcoholic as your instincts would lead you to believe they should be.
Let’s put these suggestions into action, shall we?
Combining Beer with Chocolate-Based Sweets as a Pairing Option
It is a fact that the coffee-like, ashy, and, yes, chocolaty tastes imparted by the dark-roasted malts found in stouts and porters pair pretty well with chocolate-based sweets. However, you must pay attention to the sweet aspect of things. Dry Irish-style stouts and other dry stouts and porters do not belong in the same sentence as dessert.
Look for beers with fruity or caramel notes since they complement the chocolate in the meal without necessarily imitating its flavour. This is a good option for those who want something that is less evident. For example, the rich toffee and dried plum taste of Ayinger’s Celebrator combine well with chocolate desserts that don’t require a ton of cutting bitterness or alcohol for balance. Doppelbock is an excellent place to start. A beer like Het Anker’s Gouden Carolus Cuvée Van de Keizer Blauw carries enough sweetness to match just about any dessert. It is loaded with deep, dark fruit syrup that tastes great with chocolate desserts—especially when they contain an element of fruit to bridge the flavours. Belgian strong dark ales can also work well in this context.
Combining Alcoholic Beverages with Sweets Based on Fruit
Desserts made using caramel or toffee can be challenging since they are frequently quite sweet. Beers that are extremely sweet and equally caramelly are a safe option to match; this is especially true if the beer contains sufficient depth and complexity to keep things interesting. Finding a beverage that goes well with sticky toffee pudding might be challenging. Still, a very sweet English barleywine works wonderfully, such as J.W. Lees’ Lagavulin barrel-aged Harvest Ale. It is smoky, has a flavour similar to golden raisins, and has a significant amount of toffee flavour to complement the dessert. Overall, it is successful.
Homework: Drink Beer!
Because every beer and dessert has its unique sweetness, it may be quite challenging to combine the two. The preceding recommendations will get you started in the correct direction, but ultimately, the decision is up to you; the possible combinations go well beyond what has been discussed here.
If you want to uncover surprising dessert-and-beer combos, take notes and pay attention when drinking those lovely beers. You’ll have a better chance of discovering some exciting combinations. The perfect accompaniment to your sweet treat is waiting for you to unearth it.
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