One of the things that I love about beer and food pairing is that there isn’t just one perfect option for any particular food or beer. You can truly customize your pairing based on what styles you like and what aspect of the food or beer you want to highlight. While all this flexibility makes it easier to pair, if you’re not familiar with the different flavors of the various beer styles it can seem a daunting task.
I want to help you!
A recent reader email has inspired me to create a new series of posts where I offer my suggestions for your beer pairing questions. Here’s how it will work: You comment, email, post on the Love Beer, Love Food Facebook page, etc. and I’ll choose some of my favorites for a monthly post.
So! For this inaugural post, here’s the email that started it:
My name is John and I just have a beer pairing question. I am looking for a couple of styles that would pair well with blackberry pie. Thank-you for your time, and keep up the good work with the website, I just discovered it recently and have been learning a lot more about craft beer.
No, thank you John!
I do love a good beer dessert pairing and there are many good options when it comes to pairing beer with blackberry pie. Let’s consider the various aspects of the pie you may like to highlight.
If you want to focus on the fruit, I’d suggest a Belgian style dubbel or quad/dark strong ale – Think Chimay Red, Allagash Dubbel, North Coast Brother Thelonius, McChouffe, etc. The inherent fruitiness of the yeast combined with the caramel and dried fruit character in the malts will marry beautifully with the tart and tanginess of the berries.
If sours are your thing, you can really play up the tart/sweet relationship inherent in blackberries by pairing with a just slightly tart and sweet beer such as a Flanders Red. Duchesse de Bourgogne immediately comes to mind, but here’s a nice list of other examples from Beer Advocate. In fact, my fellow beer and food lover/blogger pal, Hey Brewtiful wrote about just such a heavenly pairing option for a blackberry galette as part of her series “A Brewtiful Pair” (so punny, I love it).
For amplifying that buttery, biscuity pie crust, a British mild with plenty of toffee flavor and biscuity malts will work nicely. The touch of diacetyl in a classic English bitter will also echo the butteriness in the crust while the snappy bitterness will help cleanse the palate.
Most pairings play off of similarities or differences in the flavors, but some of the best pairings I’ve had are a marriage of complementary flavors. With this in mind, Vanilla Porter from Breckenridge would be an excellent match with blackberry pie. The vanilla flavor fills the hole of vanilla ice cream while the combination of dark, roasty beer vs. sweet and tart berries pulls it all together. It’s what makes our Blackberry Belgian Stout, The Bearded Lady work so well.
Now I need to know: What pairing questions do you have?
Let’s do this!