The Beer & Food Companion is my new book, the tenth I’ve either authored or co-authored in my 25 years of writing about beer. It’s the first I’ve written entirely on my own since the second edition of The Great Canadian Beer Guide in 2001 and, fittingly, it’s a deeply personal book.
As far back as the early 1990s, I’ve been interested in the marriage of food and beverage. It was then I started partnering up beer and chocolate, beer and cheeses, beer and just about anything edible, and my experiments and experiences have continued more-or-less non-stop ever since. The Beer & Food Companion is the culmination of this minor obsession.
The core of this new book is, naturally enough, the pairing of beer and food, beginning with the places we have for decades or even centuries dined with beer – the British pub, the Bavarian beer hall, the Belgian café – and drawing out the lessons of those experiences for application in our modern and global gastronomic times. But there is more to the Companion than just marrying beer and cuisine.
I’ve met a lot of very interesting beer and food savvy people through my travels, so I profile many of them within the book’s pages, including Sean “The Homebrew Chef” Paxton, celebrated Indian chef Sriram Aylur of London’s Quilon Restaurant, Schneider & Sohn’s Susanne Hecht and Toronto’s own Jesse Vallins, to mention but a few. Those who are chefs I’ve asked for recipes, and people like Kiwi star chef Martin Bosley, long-time Portland farm-to-table advocate Greg Higgins and Baird Brewing’s Joon Ou have obliged, helping me create a mini-cookbook within the book. I’ve also dug into the experience and knowledge of myself and others to create a section of tips on how to develop your own great beer cuisine recipes.
Of course, any book that deals with pairing beer and food had best start with defining beers by style, so I’ve dedicated an early chapter to that, developing what I believe to be an original, stripped down and, I hope, user-friendly approach along the way. Charts, tips, recommendations and a list of 100 of the world’s finest beer and food destinations help round things out nicely.
It took me the better part of a year to write The Beer & Food Companion, but a sizable chunk of my professional life to research it. I hope that you enjoy it.