by Arvid Bergström Beer sommelier and author of publications including Proef Bier (Taste Beer)
What goes well with bock beer?Food pairing with sweet beers
The basis of beer is malt. Malt contains sugars and sugar is sweet. You make beer from sugar extracted from malt and ferment this sugar with yeast. The yeast then creates alcohol and carbon dioxide. In the other blogs you read how beer isn’t only sweet, but also bitter and sour.
Sweet tones in beer can also come from the addition of candy sugar, fruit or the choice of hop. Sweet beers include dubbels (Vandeoirsprong Het Dubbele Bier), quadrupels (Blauwe Chimay) and of course, autumn bock beers (Duits& Lauret Houtgerijpte Rook Dubbelbock)
When it comes to food pairing, it’s all about finding tasty or challenging combinations between beer and food. Sweet is perhaps the most common flavour in beer. There’s always a contrast with bitter flavours. As sweetness tempers bitterness, it can be that a beer is actually quite bitter without you realising.
Which dishes pair well with sweet beers?
Taste and see which flavours are present in the beer. Intensely bitter beers demand intense dishes. Sweet pairs with all flavours, even with sweet. Think of a dark bounty bar with a Rochefort 8 or a Rochefort 10. Sweetness can conceal other flavours as well, however.
Bitter tempers sweet
Bitter and sweet temper one another. You’ll experience this in the beers themselves. But in food this probably isn’t an issue. Sweet goes well with sour, salty and umami flavours, which is what makes it the easiest of the five flavours.
Sweet strengthens sweet
The sweet flavours in a dish or from one ingredient are strengthened by the sweetness in beer. It can overwhelm other flavours, which you won’t be able to taste as strongly. Examples of these combinations include the following:
- peas and carrots
- milk and biscuits
- coconut and fruit
Bock beer and dubbel (double)
What’s the difference between a bock beer and a dubbel? Bock beer is one of the few Dutch beers to be strictly regulated. The original extract has to be a minimum of 15.5° on the Plato scale, which gives a bock beer an alcohol content of around 6.5%. There are heavier bock beers as well. A dubbel can have a lower alcohol content; autumn bocks usually have a malty, caramel flavour, which comes from roasted malts.
Dubbels, such as Leffe Bruin, are often less heavy and intense than bock beers, such as the Jopen 4 Granen Bock, although they share many similarities. Many dishes that pair well with a bock beer also go well with a dubbel - foods such as mature cheese, stewed fruit, mash and fried or roasted meats. But a dish such as pan-fried caramelised fish with a few spring onions would also be an excellent combination.
If you’re planning to barbecue, you might enjoy a Westmalle Dubbel or an Affligem Dubbelwith your pork chops or tenderloin. You could also try a Sexy Motherbocker from Oersoep.
And now a dish that goes with a bock beer:
A truly delicious dish with a bock beer is an oven-baked pork tenderloin with bacon and honey. Serve it with grilled vegetables, roast potatoes and thyme. Or baked apples - delicious! Oedipus Chateau Akkerman, Gulpener Herfstbock, Muifel D’n Ossebock or Lindeboom Gouverneur Dubbelbock would go wonderfully well.