Beer & Food Pairing

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Bart Vandaele of Belga Café – Washington DC Hoegaarden Honey Ice Cream Float
Bart Vandaele of Belga Café – Washington DC

A nine-step, time-honored tradition that demonstrates the legendary gold standard of Belgian beer service.

Photo Gallery
photo gallery: Anheuser Busch

Select the signature glass for the beer being poured and scrub in a cool-water bath, preferably with a mild detergent.
Rinse with cold water to chill the glass.
Open the tap in one swift motion to let the first burst of foam flow away into the drain, thus ensuring every drop of beer is fresh.
Hold glass at a 45-degree angle to create the perfect balance of liquid to foam.
Step 4: THE HEAD
Create the head by straightening and lowering the glass. The foam is visually appealing and releases the beer’s aroma.

Close the tap in one quick action and move the glass away from the faucet
to ensure no drops spoil the perfect head.
While the beer is flowing over the edge of the glass, cut the head gently with a
head cutter at a 45-degree angle..
Check the beer’s head to make sure it is two fingers thick.
Rinse the bottom and sides of the glass which keeps it cool and comfortable to hold.
Present the perfectly poured pint of Belgian beer on a coaster and with the logo on the glass facing the customer.



Belgians enjoy one of the most vibrant and diverse beer cultures in the world and beer is incorporated into all aspects of the meal, even dessert. Belgian brewing methods vary widely, producing a breadth of flavors and aromas that pair perfectly with food. Served in the appropriate glassware, the flavors of the Belgian beers and multi-textured aromas are released, like the nose of a fine wine. Belgian beer has sparked the increasing trend of food and beer pairings to spread across the United States with restaurants offering beer-themed dinners, beer pairings with tasting menus and dedicated beer sommeliers. This increased interest in serving beer with food can be attributed to the proliferation of microbreweries and the adaptation of beer cultures from countries like Belgium, which have opened up the world of beer to many chefs, sommeliers, beverage directors, and consumers.

Beer & Food Pairing Tips
Beer and Food Pairing Tips : Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden
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When pairing beer and food, one of the most important things to consider is the balance of the beer and the food it’s matched with. This includes the weight and intensity of the food, and the aroma and taste of the beer. When serving a beer with food, it is important to create harmony between the flavors to achieve the desired sensory impact of the beer and the food it’s paired with. At RM Seafood in Las Vegas, beverage director Jeff Eichelberger explains “I think of beer in the same vein as wine when approaching pairing. Texture and complementary flavors and aromas are key to look for. Beer is usually easier to pair with food than wine as it tends to be broader and more forgiving on the palate.”

Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden : Three Bottles
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With beer pairings, you can also often go two ways, either matching the textures and flavors or contrasting them. Bart Vandaele of Belga Café, a restaurant dedicated to Belgian food and beer in Washington DC, says that in the case of choosing beers to go with food, “knowledge is power.” He is dedicated to cooking with beer, pairing his food with beer and serving the highest quality Belgian beers like Stella Artois, Leffe and Hoegaarden in his restaurant. Beer also doesn’t have to be confined to drinking with dinner, either. At Belga, chef Vandaele demonstrates the extreme versatility of beer by serving beer as an aperitif, beer cocktails, and even pairs beer with his desserts, saying that any beer with fruit has an instant affinity. He even uses beer in some of his sweets, such as the "adult" ice cream float that is made with Hoegaarden ice cream and topped off with—you guessed it—Hoegaarden.

Stella Artois
Stella Artois and Steak
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A sophisticated European pils with a brewing tradition dating back to 1366, Stella Artois has a pleasantly bitter flavor and refreshing finish for superior drinkability that stands out from other European lagers. The crisp, dry flavor of Stella Artois makes it an ideal accompaniment for a variety of cuisines from around the world. The mild malt and light hops of Stella Artois accentuate the richness of dishes such as lamb, lobster and shellfish without overwhelming the balance of flavors.

Hoegaarden Float with Hoegaarden Foam and a Vanilla Waffle with Raspberries
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The Original Belgian White Beer, unfiltered Hoegaarden has a soft body, naturally cloudy white appearance and thick, frothy head. With its soft body and citrusy finish, Hoegaarden (pronounced who-gar-den) is the perfect complement for light salads and seafood. The spice and citrus notes in the food are reflected in the flavors found in Hoegaarden. Brewed with the finest ingredients, including real Curaçao orange peel, a dash of coriander and a blend of wheat and malted barley for a refreshing flavor and spicy nose, Hoegaarden was awarded a gold medal at the World Beer Cup® 2008.

Leffe Blonde & Brown
Braised Veal Cheeks, Heirloom Tomatoes, Snow Peas, Buttermilk Potato Puree with a Leffe Brown Reduction
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Leffe Blonde and Leffe Brown are Belgian Abbey ales dating back to the 13th century. Leffe Blonde is a rich, golden Abbey Ale with spicy aromas of clove and vanilla, smoky carameland roasted notes. The taste is sweet and silky, slightly drying with a well-balanced bitterness. Leffe Brown is a superb, darkcolored Belgian brown ale with aromas of roasted coffee, vanilla, cloves and dried fruits. Leffe Blonde is a rich, comforting, fullbodied beer that is a perfect companion to white fish like halibut. With just the right malt notes, there’s a sweet and
wonderful complexity to Leffe Blonde that complements a variety of foods. Leffe Brown pairs superbly with savory desserts and chocolate, which brings out the roasted toffee
bitter sweetness with a soothing, dry finish.

Beer Glassware
Beer Glassware : Stella Artois, Leffe, Hoegaarden
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In Belgium, every beer is served in its own signature glass designed to highlight the beer’s special flavor. The Belgian Pouring Ritual and Chalice create a unique connection between the beer and customer adding to a fine dining experience.  It brings sophistication to the beer-drinking experience and an enhanced appreciation for the serving process that wine drinkers have been enjoying for years. The most well-known Belgian glass is the Stella Artois Chalice, which releases the beer’s flavor and multi-textured aromas.  Hoegaarden is offered in a hexagonal glass that showcases its natural cloudiness and spicy coriander aroma.  The thickness of the glass also helps maintain the desired serving temperature. Leffe uses a high-stemmed glass, enabling customers to enjoy the beer’s delicate malt aroma and robust, creamy warmth.


Always Enjoy Responsibly. © 2009 Import Brands Alliance, Importers of Stella Artois® Beer, St. Louis, MO.