Starting on February 6, there’s a new reason to spend Thursdays in February at Iron Hill Brewery in Chestnut Hill: gratis food and beer pairing bites. Servers will automatically bring each dinner guest a sample matchup, until the kitchen runs out for the evening.
Why the free tastes? Exec chef Jared Cannon and head brewer Paul Rutherford recently attended a beer and food pairing seminar at Chicago’s Siebel Institute of Technology - science! - and they’re excited to test out their new knowledge. The 2-oz. pours of beer will even be served in special glassware ordered just for this promotion, which will continue throughout the month.
We reached out to Cannon to get some pairing advice from the newly minted expert.
Zagat: Any general tips for people who want to up their pairing game?
Jared Cannon: One, always try to match intensities of the food and the beer. And two, when in doubt, saison is a home run. It’s beer’s “crossover,” like chardonnay or pinot noir for wine. It goes with just about anything.
Zagat: What’s the hardest food to pair with beer?
JC: You can pretty much find any elemental food component in a beer. Keep in mind these connections:
- Yeast --> fruitiness
- Malt --> roasty/grilled/caramelization
- Hops --> herbs and spice
Zagat: What’s the hardest beer to pair with food?
JC: The hardest element in beer to pair, by far, is bitterness, which is usually found in hoppy beers. Sweetness can balance it and spiciness can accent it, but making it work is definitely the hardest.
Zagat: Are there any foods that go with all beers?
JC: Definitely: cheese. Artisan cheeses are so diverse that you can always find one to pair with any given beer. You just need to know what to look for - again, match intensities and look for common harmonious elements. A couple of classic pairings:
- Aged gouda with porter or imperial stout
- Stilton with barleywine
- Pyrenees with brown ale
- Burrata with hefeweizen