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Facts and tips on beer and food

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Because of all the potential levels of flavour in beer, it is very versatile in terms of pairing with food.

Choose a beer that complements your food or one that contrasts with it. An English-style beer would complement the earthy, herbal notes of meat loaf while a contrasting beer with a citrus character "would be a little bit like using a kind of chutney," says cicerone Jordan St. John.

Dark meats and dark beer are natural pairings because they both have a degree of caramelization.

For fish or chicken, lighter coloured beer provides a better flavour balance.

With very fatty foods, a good pairing would be a medium-body beer with a slight amount of bitterness and enough carbonation to wipe the fat from the palate.

Hops are one of the main flavouring ingredients in beer and these can vary widely depending on the type, where they are grown, the soil and climate.

One popular current trend in home brewing is hops from New Zealand, which have the character of tropical fruit. One called Galaxy simulates the flavour of mango.

Source: Jordan St. John, co-author of "Ontario Beer: A Heady History of Brewing from the Great Lakes to Hudson Bay."

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