Craft beer and vegetarian food pairing

By Nicholas Robinson contact

- Last updated on GMT

Chef Dulye: 'Don't overthink your pairings'
Chef Dulye: 'Don't overthink your pairings'

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Vegetarian food and craft beer pairings have been thrust into the limelight by the US Brewers Association’s executive chef Adam Dulye, who showcased the diversity of the nation’s brews and meat-free food coupling.

Dulye, in collaboration with fellow chef Nick Balfe, paired 10 US craft beers with seven vegetarian dishes at an exclusive dinner held at the Salon, Brixton, last week.

Dulye’s top tips for beer and food pairing:

  1. Taste your plate of food and look for the flavours. But don’t force it
  2. Keep trying beer styles – even those you don’t like – to see how that changes the flavours on the plate
  3. Think about how the hops interact with your palate and how they dance back and fourth with the dish.
  4. Pay attention to the end of each bite: does it taste bitter, sweet, etc.?

Dishes included smoked celeriac, rainbow chard and pickled walnuts; girolles, sweetcorn, orange with an allspice butter; and olive oil salted ganache with salted caramel and cherry hazelnuts.

Each of the dishes were paired with American ales such as Baba Black lager (4% ABV) from Uinta Brewing, Salt Lake City; The Abyss Rye (12.2% ABV) from Deschutes Brewery, Bend; and Torpedo (7.2%) from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico.

See the full menu and beer pairings from the meal, which was a continuation of the Brewers Association’s Export Development programme, at the end of this article.

‘Beer comes first’

To pair beer and food, Dulye advised: “Beer comes first. For this dinner, we worked on tasting notes, bouncing them back and forth between the States and the UK.

“Then we had a tasting on Monday to test everything and made final tweaks.”

He added: “It’s about the ingredients, if you have hops in a beer, you want to taste the hops. If you have malt, you want to taste the malt. With food it’s the same thing. If you’re using celeriac, you want to taste it.

“If you have carrot, then you want to taste it and should use a method in the preparation and cooking that mimics and highlights the flavour of the vegetable with the beer to get a pairing.”

A photo posted by Lotte (@lotte_peplow) on

Challenging people’s perceptions of how they think of beer and food was one of the key goals of the evening, the executive chef said. And pairing US beer with UK food formed part of that.

A few brewers behind the beers represented on the night made it to the tasting to highlight the importance of community in beer and to showcase how the UK craft beer sector can work alongside the US’s 4,600 craft breweries.

Find a bigger beer

When it comes to desserts and beers, pubs should find a bigger beer, he explained.

“In desserts you have fat, eg, ice cream or decadent chocolate, that coats your palate to protect it. So look for something bigger in a beer to keep the palate up.

Olive oil ganache, salted caramel , cherry hazelnuts with PortCity's Colossal & Deschutes Abyss Rye

A photo posted by Lotte (@lotte_peplow) on

“You get lots of different flavour notes from beer and dessert and you’ll be tasting notes of caramel, whisky, rose, chocolate, cherry, rye and you may not know whether they are coming from the dessert or the beer.”

As for the future of beer and food pairing in general, Dulye highlighted the fact that both chefs and brewers were evolving at the same time and were also refining their ingredients.

This evolution and refining process included looking at the connection between the glass and the table in ways that are “simple and clean”.

The Menu:


Skinny Atlas Light 5.3% ABV, Empire Brewing Co, Syracuse, NY

Kirsch Gose 4.7% ABV, Victory Brewing Co, Downington, PA

Courgette Tempura, Kirsch Beer Vinaigrette

Dehydrated Tomato, Yogurt, Sourdough Crisp

Radishes, Roasted Yeast

First course

Full Circle Kolsch Style Ale 4.4% ABV, New Holland Brewing, Holland, MI

Nadia Kali Hibiscus Saison 6.3% ABV, Great Divide Brewing Co, Denver

Marinated Beetroots, Whipped Sheep’s Curd, Puffed Barley, Hibiscus

Second course

The Great Return 7.5% ABV, Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, Richmond, VA

Torpedo, 7.2% ABV, Sierra Nevada Brewing Co, Chico, CA & Mills River, NC

Girolles, Sweetcorn, Orange, Allspice Butter

Third course

Harpoon 100 Barrel Series #57 Sticke Alt 6.6%ABV, Harpoon Brewery, Boston, MA

Baba Black Lager 4.4%ABV, Uinta Brewing, Salt Lake City, UT

Smoked celeriac, Rainbow Chard, Pickled Walnuts


Colossal V 9.8% ABV, Port City Brewing, Alexandria, VA

The Abyss Rye 12.2% ABV, Deschutes Brewery, Bend, OR

Olive Oil Ganache, Salted Caramel, Cherry Hazelnuts

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