Pale and Interesting

Our panel of experts give you their take on what to munch with pale ale

Will Beckett

Will Beckett, director of Underdog consultancy, is one of the UK’s most successful pub and bar entrepreneurs and, alongside his mother Fiona Beckett, is the co-author of An Appetite for Ale.

Pale ales are the middleweights of the beer world, good strong beers with more depth, strength and flavour than a lot of lagers or lighter ales but not as hard-hitting as the strong, hoppy beers like IPAs, porters or stouts. If you’re going to start matching them then bear that in mind – they’ll hold their own against a range of foods but they’re going to overpower delicate foods, and are equally liable to get murdered by big, strong flavours. And, like in boxing, the basic rule applies – Americans are usually stronger than their British counterparts.

I’d say the basic rules are that you could give pale ales a go with quite a few things – I’ve enjoyed them with fish pies (although they’re too strong for a lot of plain fish and not strong enough for smoked fish), poultry, English (but not German) sausages, hot cheese dishes like mac ‘n’ cheese or Welsh Rarebit (but not with the stronger blue cheeses), root vegetables, pasta dishes with creamy sauces and many more.

All of which is only a slight improvement on telling you that pale ales go with food, and presumably as a judge you’re going to expect a little bit more from me (although if Cheryl Cole can make it as a judge on X-Factor perhaps intelligence and good taste is not a prerequisite of judging), so how about this…

Roast parsnip and onion soup with a British pale ale like Marston’s (but where would you find such a recipe? Why, in our book, where else?)

The classic Sunday roast (with chicken or turkey) with an Aussie version that’s getting more popular over here – Little Creatures Pale Ale.

A mild to medium curry, let’s say a Moghlai (which is made with ginger, almonds, yoghurt and cream) with a hoppier American beer. I want to say something other than Sierra Nevada but it’s so damn good I can’t bring myself to!

Article continues in Issue 20 of Beers of the World Magazine

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