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Pairing beer with the cuisine found in Bangkok – a journey of discovery in two parts

Earlier this week an interesting post popped up on our Facebook News Feed. If you are a reader of Coconuts Bangkok, or are friends with anyone who enjoys food you likely saw a post about the top 50 restaurants in Asia. The list, compiled by Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino, can be found here if you missed it.

Many of our friends and colleagues were delighted to see that two restaurants were in the top 10 with Bangkok’s Nahm being given top honors as the best restaurant in Asia. It is pretty cool to see a Thai restaurant in the top spot and this really highlights something that many Thais already know: Bangkok, and Thailand in general, is quickly becoming a mecca for food. Walk down any main soi, especially Sukhumvit, and you can find nearly every cuisine represented in the city.

So, this is a blog about beer, why would we talk about food? Well, beer is a versatile drink and is the perfect thing to pair with almost any type of food. While the practice of pairing wine with different foods is a well established art form – people train for almost a decade in order to be able to become a master Sommelier and be able to pair the perfect wine to go with a diner’s dishes – many foodies are starting to realize that beer has a lot more to offer than wine.

The act of pairing beer with food is fairly new to many. In the past, beer was drunk separate from food with many not really caring if tastes matched but that is starting to change. Some restaurants in the US and Canada, especially high-end beer pubs, have menus that pair dishes with a beer. I first noticed this last summer while I was home. I went to a local brew pub that is known equally well for their food and beer and noticed that each item on the menu had a recommend beer pairing.

True, I was in a brew pub, but I still thought that was a cool idea – pick the beer that will go best with your food. This is a great way to not only try new food based on the beer you like but to also try new beer based on the food you like. Not to mention the fact that it’s a great way to get people to come back because they will want to try other pairings. I found that by ordering the beer recommended with the dish I ordered I enjoyed both parts of the meal even more.

Here in Thailand, craft beer is really starting to take off and restaurants are beginning to offer a wider selection of beer. This is great because it gives diners a chance to pair their dishes with beer for a truly holistic dining experience. Because this is happening, and there is such a wide variety of restaurants available, now is a good time to look at some of the more popular types of cuisine in and around Bangkok and some beer that will pair well with it.

Thai

Ok, Thai food is one of the most varied cuisines out there, and it may seem a little odd to simply group the many different sub-cuisines together, but the majority of dishes here hinge on four elements: Sweet, salty, sour/bitter and spicy.

There are a number of beer styles that will go well with this harmonious mixture of flavors including:

  • Adjunct Lagers like Budweiser
  • American style IPAs like the Anderson Valley Hop Ottin’ IPA
  • Belgian Pale Ales like Leffe Blonde
  • Pilsner like TuaTara Pilsner

Of course, Thai beer with Thai food is also a good choice, and many times may be the best choice. Take for example Singha: It’s perfect with any spicy dish.

Chinese

Much like Thai, Chinese food is made up of a variety of sub-cuisines – 8 major ones in fact. Unlike Thai however, there is no real commonality with flavor. While there is a wide variety, the majority of Chinese food we see here in Thailand is predominantly Southern or Cantonese influenced. To that end, try pairing this style of food with:

  • Pilsner like Pax Pils
  • Adjunct Lagers like Tsingtao (if you can find it)
  • Strong European Lager like Bavaria 8.6
  • Japanese Lager like Sapporo

If you are eating Cantonese or dishes from that general area – Guangdong – it is best to keep the beers on the lighter side, as a strongly flavored or thicker beer like a stout may mask the often delicate flavors of the food.

Indian

Much like the other types of Asian cuisine, Indian food can be incredibly varied but tends to be more aromatic and punchy with lots of spice. Beers with a little more flavor and punch are often a great match for this cuisine. Take for example:

  • English style IPAs like Fuller’s London India Pale Ale
  • Pale Ales like Yo-Ho Brewing’s Yona Yona Ale
  • Light Ales like Cooper’s Sparkling Ale
  • Pilsner like Warsteiner Premium

If you come across it, try Cobra beer with a nice spicy curry and you will not be upset.

Japanese

Saki is without a doubt the best drink to accompany Japanese food. But, there are a number of beers that are equally well suited for this cuisine, some that can even help a dish reach the essential Japanese taste – umami.

  • Japanese Rice beer like Hitachino Nest Red Ale
  • German Hefeweizens like Weihenstephaner Hefe Weissbier
  • Japanese Lager like Sapporo
  • Rogue Morimoto Soba Ale

If you are eating sushi, we highly recommend pairing the Soba Ale or a Hefeweizen with the fish as the flavors of the beer will perfectly compliment the fish. Other dishes like ramen, tonkatsu or edamame beans go well with Rice beers and Lagers.

Stay tuned for next week where we will cover some more popular cuisines found here in Thailand and what types of beer that go with them.

Wish of the week

All of the above
Almost all of the beers above can actually be found on our website. So, the next time you are planning to order in why not give us a call and have us deliver a beer to perfectly compliment your meal!

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