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Enology

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Guinness, like other Irish stouts, enjoys a seasonal popularity every St. Patrick's Day. It has also been touted as being "good for you," at least by its own advertising posters decades ago.

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Some things just taste better when the sun is shining, and you're sitting outdoors on some lawn chairs, just chatting with friends and watching the world go by. Sangria is one of those recipes.

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Tart and funky brews aren’t as cut and dry as other flavor profile categories. They have a wide ABV range and can be light to medium-full bodied. As far as flavor goes, tart and funky brews can be acidic, sour, winey, fruity ... you name it. Tart and funky beers, like an American Brett, pair well with earthy cheeses, grilled or roasted game and fruit filled pastries.

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If you haven’t noticed by now, beer is complex. The drink’s varying styles and intricate blend of ingredients makes it great for pairing with food.

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Pale lagers, like the American Lager, are light and refreshing. The highly carbonated and crisp beverage pairs well with spicy foods like Buffalo hot wings and noodle-based dishes like Vietnamese pho. According to Price, light lagers also go well with bitter foods like asparagus because they take away some of its astringency — try it with this prosciutto wrapped asparagus.

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Brown ales typically have roasted malt and chocolate-like characteristics with low bitterness. The beer’s flavor profile makes it versatile for food pairings, but typically brown ales go with roast pork, smoked sausage and game birds. Try this duck leg ragu with an American Brown Ale, the fat will neutralize any of the beer’s bitterness and complement its roastiness.

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India Pale Ales (the highest selling craft beer style across the United States) are a good way to enhance the flavor of your food. Because IPAs are so robust, Price likes to pair them with dishes that will balance the beer out, such as a mild curry dish. But there is a lot of variety within this one style. The American IPA is known for its citrus-like and piney hop flavor and pairs well with a spicy tuna sushi roll. Then there’s the New England IPA, which is juicy and tropical and pairs with dishes like Hawaiian pork tenderloin because the flavor from the pork matches the intensity of the beer.

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Pilsners are a type of lager that are hoppy with bread-like malt flavor. Perhaps the most popular pilsner is the German-Style pilsner. The light and balanced lager pairs effortlessly with lighter food, like chicken, salads, and shellfish. Try pairing it with air fryer garlic shrimp or this cobb salad recipe.

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Wild and sour beers get their acidity because they’re brewed with “wild” microorganisms to give the brew complexity. One example of this style is the American Sour, which gets its acidity from lactic acid and can range in color and bitterness. You can pair it with a variety of foods, including strongly flavored cheeses and creamy desserts with fruit, like this classic peach cobbler. Another example is the Belgian-Style Flanders, which is known for its lactic sourness. This beer is typically copper to very dark in color and pairs well with dishes like beef carbonnade and pumpkin pie.

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Because wheat beers are brewed mostly with wheat they tend to have a creamy and almost tangy flavor that’s not comparable to other beers. There’s a lot of variety within this style because of the different types of yeast that are added. One example is the American Wheat Beer, a light brew that pairs well with a range of food.

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Porters are dark in color and have flavors of chocolate, coffee, caramel and nuts. The beer’s rich flavor is best paired with roasted or smoked foods like barbecue, sausages and blackened fish but they also pair well with desserts, like these peanut butter cookies. If you’re serving a Baltic Style Porter (a smooth and boozy beer with malt aromas of licorice and chocolate) try it with this prime rib recipe.

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Stouts are very dark beers that often have stronger roasted flavors than porters. Because of their rich, chocolate notes they’re a great beer to pair with dessert. If you’re serving an Imperial Stout, try pairing it with these chocolate truffles. If you’re serving an Oatmeal Stout, which has coffee-like aromas, pair it with these chocolate-espresso pizzelles.

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Contrasting flavors means you take a beer that has a commanding flavor profile and pair it with a mild dish, or vice versa. Jennifer Price, creator of the Atlanta Beer Boutique and author of “The Chick’s Guide to Beer” says that contrasting flavors is the easiest way to pair super bitter, tart, dark or otherwise bold beers, like India Pale Ales (IPA) or Imperial Stouts, with food.

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Another thing Price likes to do when pairing beer with food is to find harmony between the flavors. The easiest way to do that, she says, is to find beers and foods that have similar ingredients. Imperial stouts, for example, often have flavors of bittersweet chocolate, cocoa or coffee that might pair well with chocolate cake or foie gras.

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Another way to set up a food and beer pairing is to match strength for strength (one of Price’s go to methods of pairing beer with food). Coupling a bold beer, like a stout, with an equally bold food such as a plate of BBQ ribs is an example of matching strength for strength. In that same vein, you should pair mild beer with mild food, like fish or salad.

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Another simple way to pair beer with food is to use beer as a palate cleanser for boldly flavored dishes, like Korean fried chicken. According to Price, beers that are lighter in flavor are best used as palate cleansers because the flavors don’t compete with the flavor of the food. Light lagers (like pilsners) and Kolsches work well as palate cleansers because of their mild flavor profiles.

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According to cicerone-certified beer server and creator of the Black Beer Experience, Shani Glapion, the most important things for beginners to keep in mind when pairing beer with food is to understand the profile of the beer.

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