With around 8,500 types of craft beer in Italy alone, the possibilities for pairing are endless. Beer expert and columnist for Pizza e Pasta Italiana magazine Alfonso del Forno gives five great tips for serving beer and pairing it with your pizza.
1. Don’t tilt your glass as you pour
Tilting the glass when pouring beer will reduce the amount of foam in the glass. That’s great! Or is it? Del Forno warns that keeping the CO2 trapped in the beer means it will escape later in your customers' bellies. “What is the result?" Del Forno says, "your customer will feel full sooner and they will leave food on their plate.” A straight pour into a glass will release excess gas and enhance additional flavor notes.
2. Drink beer from a wine glass
Pouring beer straight into a pint glass may not work so well, but it’s perfect in a glass with a rounded bottom. In Belgium, a country with a long history of craft beer, each beer has its own type of glass. Of course, it’s not easy to stock different glasses for every kind of beer, so Del Forno suggests a neutral alternative – a wine glass. In fact, Del Forno considers a wine glass to be “the best kind of beer glass.”
3. Ice-cold not as "cool" as you think
Beer should not be served below 5° C (41° F), suggests Del Forno, “because below that temperature your taste buds can no longer perceive the flavors.” The alcohol content will determine the most suitable temperature for serving. His rule of thumb is to “add two” to the percentage of alcohol to give you your serving temperature in Celsius. For example, beers with around 7% alcohol content are ideally served at 9° C (48° F).
4. Dry beers remove grease better
Just as wine can be considered “dry,” so can beer. Dryness refers to the extent to which the drink removes saliva and oils from your mouth, leaving you with a desire to drink more! Some beers, particularly in the Belgian tradition, are both dry and sweet, which is a dicey combination. The sweetness makes it easy to drink, the dryness leaves you feeling thirsty for more. Dry beers pair well with pizza of all kinds because they wash away grease from meats and cheese.
5. Bitter with sweet and vice versa
Del Forno explains that pairing is all about balance, which gives rise to something new. Bringing the flavors into harmony should create a new tasting experience that is different from the food or drink on its own. One easy way to achieve this balance is through harmonizing bitter and sweet. Bitter vegetables like broccoli or spinach can be paired with sweeter beers, such as a Weizen, whereas sweet toppings like onion go best with bitter beers like IPAs.
Del Forno says that beer’s vast versatility gives it a unique advantage above wine. “There is not a single food that you cannot find a beer to pair with,” concludes Del Forno. And might we add, there's not a single drink that can't be paired with pizza!