There are two philosophical views when pairing beer and food. One approach is to select a beer that has counterbalancing flavor components. An example of this is selecting a lighter, thirst-quenching beer to offset a particularly spicy dish. The other approach is to select a beer that has similar attributes to the food in question, allowing the flavors to harmonize and reinforce one another.
COOKING WITH BEER
Beer is a wonderful cooking liquid for many recipes. When used for braising meat, beer is a natural flavor enhancer and will prevent flavor from leaching out of the meat. Beer also will create richer flavor in stocks and broths as opposed to using water by itself. Steaming mussels or clams in beer allows a more natural seafood aroma to permeate the flavor. In batters, the carbon dioxide will create a lighter texture. In some instances, the beer is an integral element of the dish, as it is in O’batzda, a freshly-made Bavarian cheese.
In general, a malty beer, low to moderate in bitterness, is optimal. When braising or boiling, you should normally use a 50:50 beer to water ratio. The best Gordon Biersch beers for braising are Marzen, Blonde Bock, WinterBock and Maibock. The bitterness of the Czech Style Pilsner is perfect as a thirst quencher to compliment spicy dishes, but its high level of bitterness will overshadow the subtle flavors when used for cooking.