Take the Beer & Food Course for the holidays

Last month, the Brewers Association — the not-for-profit trade group of small and independent American brewers — published the Beer & Food Course.

Chef and BA culinary consultant Adam Dulye teamed with BA craft beer program director Julia Herz to put together the digital course, which is aimed at culinary institutions, food and beverage students and beer educators.

But it would also serve as a great resource for almost anyone who enjoys beer, especially during the holiday season, when bringing beer to the table can be both a joy and a challenge. Free to download at CraftBeer.com, the five-day course covers the basics of brewing, beer styles, pairing beer with food, and pouring and presenting beer at the table.

“This is the work product of almost two years,” Herz said.“It started with us sitting down and saying, ‘What can we do to get beer on the map at culinary institutions?’”

Herz notes that the BA tracked more than 1,300 downloads of the course in the first 30 days after it was released online.

“We’re seeing beer lovers, homebrewers, distributors and retailers,” Herz said. “And then on the educational side, some colleges are already using it, including Colorado State and San Diego State. This course is going to challenge people’s mindset and way of thinking about beer and food — and that’s a good thing.”

When it comes to beer and food pairing, Herz said her own thinking has evolved over the years.

“Pairing is personal, perception is personal, and as I’ve paid attention to this more mentally, I’ve really started to understand that,” Herz said. “There are all kinds of interactions that go on when you are enjoying food and drink.

“In the course, we have an amazing triangle of craft beer, which includes flavor, aroma and sensation. There’s so much to appreciate when you see the potential for what you are tasting and pairing, and it’s so much more rewarding when you dial that in.”

As far as pairings for Thanksgiving, Herz has some easy ideas that will work for the traditional menu of turkey and its crazy quilt of side dishes.

“Thanksgiving has so much going on,” Herz said. “It doesn’t just have turkey prepared in different ways. It has so many different side dishes. So don’t sweat it. Have a variety of beer styles at the table.

“My favorite is Belgian-style Golden Strong Ale. The malt flavors fall into the mild white meat flavor of turkey beautifully, and the herbal and toasted bread flavor from most stuffing ties into this beer style’s malt and spicy yeast flavors. American Brown Ale is always worth having on the table. The browned malt flavors of caramel and chocolate work so well with the gravy’s browned flavors plus the hops in an American Brown tame the meal and things taste less rich and heavy on the palate.”

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