As foie gras gets added back to seemingly every menu in town, try these fine beers alongside the fatty treat once you’re tired of the glasses of Sauternes and Chardonnay commonly recommended as matches for foie.
By now the idea of pairing beer with fine food shouldn’t surprise any serious foodie. Beer is often more versatile and more forgiving than wine, especially when served alongside certain tricky foods that can cause a somm to sweat. Foie gras is one of those challenging ingredients for wine pairings, but there’s a wide variety of beer styles that find affinity with the rich, unctuous lobes.
English Barleywine — The Bruery Sucré
These malty and potent brews have a deep sweetness that complements the flavor of the foie and enough alcohol to cut its richness. Founder and Brewmaster of The Bruery, Patrick Rue (who recently achieved Master Cicerone status, only the ninth in the world and the first in Southern California) recommends one of his brewery’s anniversary brews (infamous for their huge alcohol content and solera-method production) as a match for simply seared foie gras.
Flanders Ale — Liefmans Goudenbond
The brown ales from Belgium’s Flanders region are exceptionally versatile with food. With a balance of sweetness and tartness and rich flavors of sweet malts, wood, and spice, Oud Bruin (Flemish for “old brown”) is "magic with foie gras and it could give Sauternes a run for its money,” says El Segundo Brewing Co.’s Tom Kelley — himself a Certified Cicerone — adding, “Bring it on, Chateau d'Yquem!” Kelley recommends the easy-to-find Liefmans Goudenbond, and the also widely available Duchesse De Bourgogne would also serve.
Doppelbock — Samichlaus
The rich, dark doppelbocks of Germany are a classic pairing with meat and game, and the intensity of flavor of the strong lagers will stand up to the bolder preparations of foie gras. In his book "The Brewmaster’s Table," brewmaster of the Brooklyn Brewery Garrett Oliver recommends Samichlaus dopplebock (released once a year in December) for its “amazingly intense malt aroma,” complex flavor and lingering honey finish, calling it “absolutely stunning” with a foie gras terrine.
Kriek — Kasteel Kriek
These fruited lambics feature sour Belgian cherries, and they balance tartness, sweetness, funk and a pleasant almond-like bitterness imparted from the cherry pits. They are another versatile food-friendly brew and the one to reach for with foie that’s prepared with fruit or a gastric. Look for dryer examples of the style and stay away from the common back-sweetened cherry beers (like the ubiquitous Lindemans lambics) that lose all of the subtlety and charm of the more balanced examples.