At LowDown Brewery + Kitchen, which I review this week, pizzas make up nearly half the food sales, which can easily be chalked up to the crisp crusts and creative toppings that executive chef Brendon Flood heaps upon them, everything from pulled pork to pickles and ground beef. But I had a hunch there was more to the attraction between beer and pizza, so I reached out to Pat Fahey, one of seven Master Cicerones in the world and content manager for the Cicerone Certification Program, which doles out what might be thought of as associate, master's and doctorate degrees to beer-loving professionals around the world.
Fahey's first thought was that pizza and beer are "both seen as comfort items, so even people who are beer enthusiasts see [beer] as a relaxing beverage, much in the same way that pizza is a relaxing food."
But as we talked, it became clear that there's a more scientific reason, as well. "Beer is really good at cutting through fatty, greasy and creamy types of dishes," he continued. In other words, dishes like cheesy pizza and even cheesecake, which is considered a classic beer pairing among cognoscenti.
What beer doesn't do, however, is tame heat. So think twice before reaching for a cold one when eating something spicy. "People talk about how IPAs are good with Indian food, but actually the reverse is the truth," Fahey said. "The high bitterness accentuates the chile pepper's heat, so if you take something screaming hot like lamb vindaloo and pair it with an IPA, it will burn your tongue off."
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It doesn't take a Master Cicerone credential to discover that -- but why learn the hard way?