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With so many different styles of beer and even seasonal beers to take into account, it can be difficult to come up with good pairings for every beer on your restaurant or bar's beer list. But, creating an excellent beer and food pairing menu in your bar or restaurant can also be a huge boost to your profits. Rather than listing food pairings for each type of beer out there, it's better to learn how to find which flavors on your menu will complement your different types of beer. Keep reading to learn how to describe the taste of beer, some guidelines for beer and food pairings, and what beers go with what foods.

Definition of Tastes in Beer

When describing the taste of beer, there are a few buzzwords that you'll come across again and again. Here are some general definitions to help you understand how the flavors in beer are typically described:

Hops: Many times people use "hoppiness" to describe how bitter a beer tastes, but not all hoppy beers are bitter. The taste of a hoppy beer depends on when the hops are added in the brewing process. The earlier the hops are added, the more bitter the beer. Hops themselves have a versatile flavor and aroma that can enhance flowery and fruity flavors in the beer.

Bitter: Bitterness is a distinct flavor profile found in many types of beer, although the amount of bitterness varies between the styles of beer. Many breweries rate how bitter a beer is with an IBU number. IBU stands for International Bitterness Units, and the higher the IBU, the stronger the bitterness.

Malt: Malt comes from the barley grain, and it is usually roasted before it is added to the brew. Roasting barley gives the beer a nutty flavor and a toasty aroma. Plus, during the roasting process, the sugars in the barley caramelize, bringing out a slightly sweet, caramel taste.

Dark: While it may seem more like a description of the color, dark can also be used to describe how a beer tastes. Dark beers are made with malt grain that is roasted until it reaches a dark color. Dark beers are typically roasted longer than malty beers, giving them a richer and heavier taste. The malt's nutty, caramel flavor turns to darker notes of chocolate and coffee with a longer roast time.

Light: Light beer is usually known for having a clean and crisp taste that is refreshing. Typically, light beers don't have a strong flavor and aren't very bitter or hoppy. Additionally, most light beers also have a low alcohol content.

Light Lagers > Spicy food, burgers, salads

Wheat Beers > Spicy food and fruity desserts

India Pale Ales (IPAs) > Steak, barbecue, and Mexican food

Amber Ales > Pizza, fried food, smoked pork

Dark Lagers > Pizza, burgers, hearty stews

Brown Ales > Sausage, sushi, fish

Porters > Seafood, coffee-flavored desserts, game meats

Stouts > Chocolate desserts, shellfish, Mexican food

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