Is Food Pairing Beneficial for Your Brand?

Taking the time to explore the flavors of your beer and either incorporating them into your brewpub’s food or creating a food pairing guide for POS locations or at on- and off-premise locations can be seen as ​a benefit to selling more of a particular part of your portfolio.

“I think, if done well, it can really raise the brand awareness and positive equity of your brand,” said Christian McMahan, Wachusett Brewing president.

Listing potential pairings can be a great way to get people excited about a beer, but it’s also a tool for helping people think about your brewery’s beers more broadly as well.

“Maybe we have a casual fan who always reaches for a glass of wine when they’re having raw oysters, but once they learn that a Gose could be an even better pairing, it changes their whole mindset,” said Sixpoint‘s Max Finnance, who does Quality and Beer Education for the Brooklyn brewery and works on the product development team.

Finnance, who is an Advanced Cicerone, pointed out that this isn’t a facet that Sixpoint has focused heavily on in marketing, but with the creation of a food-pairing guide it may well take on a larger role.

This new guide will also include a focus on cooking with beer rather than just pairing.

“The interplay of food and beer, both in the kitchen and at the table, has been under-appreciated and underutilized for a long time but renowned chefs are finally starting to take beer seriously,” Finnance said. “We couldn’t be more excited about this change, and we’re looking to help facilitate that education however we can.”

Wachusett does not have an everyday guide, per se, since things evolve with both food and beer by season. McMahan said the brewery likes to do is work with local chefs in creating food and beer pairings for beer dinner menus or food items that use the brewery’s products as an ingredient.

“Our Executive Chef, Simon Letendre, has created a menu that features many of our beers as part of the ingredients as well,” McMahan said. “Additionally, we work closely with local food producers such as Smith’s Country Cheese and Stretch’s Pickles who use our beer in some of the everyday items that they sell.

“We make sure we partner with people we know have standards as high — if not even higher — than we do to ensure the highest possible impact.”

There is risk as well, McMahan added. Creating a list of food and beer pairings might only be helpful if it is done correctly.

“To say ‘try our IPA with curry’ has a greater chance of failing than it has of being a decent pairing,” pointed out North Coast Brewing Brewmaster, Chuck Martins. “Similar to IPA, there are many types of curry and as many interpretations of each curry as there are people preparing these dishes.

“The odds are that many, many times there will be disharmony between the beer and the dish. You may have gotten a curry lover to try your IPA, but if it wasn’t a good experience, have you helped or harmed your brand with that consumer?”

Martins said if your brewery happens to have a restaurant with a chef who is dedicated to creating recipes that interact pleasantly with your beers and a kitchen staff that is disciplined enough to follow those recipes and not “wing it,” there is an opportunity to make lasting memories for your clientele that will enhance the image of your brands with those customers.

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  1. Insights in Developing a Food-Pairing Menu
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