Kirrily Waldhorn is known as the Beer Diva for a good reason, so we sat down for a chat about how easy it is to integrate beer and food combinations into a venue.

1 It doesn’t have to be complicated

But it should always be fun. There aren’t too many major catastrophes that will be encountered when using the principles of compare and contrast, and I always encourage experimentation when it comes to finding great pairings. Just have a give it a go attitude and the magic will follow.

2 Beer and cheese is a match made in heaven

It’s one of my favourite pairings and definitely not a new thing. The classic Ploughman’s lunch consisted of a pint of ale and a chunk of matured cheddar. The Belgian monks have been brewing beer and making cheese for centuries. They’re natural partners. Again, balance is important when finding great pairings and there are many complementary flavours to be found. When serving a cheese platter, it’s a great idea to offer a sample of different beer styles, so that everyone can taste and discover their own favourite combination. Think along the lines of fresh goat’s curd with a delicate Belgian Witbier, a good quality matured cheddar with an ESB and, one of my favourites, an intense blue with a rich stout.

3 There is no such thing as a perfect pairing

There is no food that beer cannot enhance, and one person’s perfect pairing could be another’s disastrous duo. As long as the beer is fresh and the food is prepared with love, everything should be just fine. One of my most memorable pairings was actually divine in its simplicity – a freshly shucked oyster with a light, citrusy German Kölsch. So clean, so simple and so wonderful.

4 It’s the broken record again: train your staff

Run some sessions with bar staff using beers and dishes from the menu, and find the popular pairings amongst the group. From there, the element of surprise and delight always works wonders. If a client orders a particular dish that the staff know is going to work well with a particular beer, give the client a sample and let them decide for themselves. The look on their face is worth everything. Also allowing staff to experiment themselves and discover and discuss their favourite pairings will enable them to genuinely provide fantastic recommendations.

5 Involve your customers from the beginning

Pairing suggestions on menus are also a great idea, which can be kept simple at first and can then evolve based on the clientele’s response. Be different, don’t always default to the wine suggestion, the clients will love it.

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