The Sensory Science of Beer and Food Pairing

Dr Debbie Parker, Marketing Sciences’ Sensory Expert, tells us about her public lecture on ‘The Sensory Science of Beer & Food Pairing’ at Newcastle University’s School of Chemistry.


Understanding which beer and food combinations work best together is a passion of mine, so when I was asked by Newcastle University to give a public lecture on this very topic before Christmas, I was delighted to accept. My lecture was to be just one of a series of ENGAGE talks within the School of Chemistry at the University, and sponsored by the Royal Society of Chemistry Newcastle and North East Coast Local Section.

Before giving my talk, which had the aim of raising awareness in the area of beer and food sensory, as well as chemistry in general, I was given to opportunity to meet some staff members and have a tour of the School of Chemistry. I then presented “The Sensory Science of Beer & Food Pairing” to a large and highly engaged audience of academics, students, chefs, brewers and fellow beer and food-loving members of the general public.

Glasses with four beers on a white background. The file contains a path to cut.

What was involved in the session?
I talked about some of the various flavours of beer ingredients – this involved tasting some lager, ale, crystal and chocolate malts, as well as sniffing some fresh hop cones. We tasted a Czech lager and a dark ruby ale to examine the impact that malt flavour has on beer. We also tasted a very hoppy Pale Ale to demonstrate the floral and citrus hop aroma. We went on to taste a wheat beer, a Belgian lambic cherry beer, and a strong English Pale Ale and paired these with food to demonstrate just how flavours in beer can complement food flavours, help cut through sticky and fatty foods, and where they can best contrast with other flavours in foods.

Clearly it is a topic close to many of our hearts, and I was delighted to see the response from the attendees was overwhelmingly positive:

“It was a really good lecture, thoroughly enjoyed it”
“Beer and food pairing is easily the best lecture I’ve ever had”

If you are interested to know more about the science behind pairings of beer and food, I would be more than happy to talk you through it.

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Dr Debbie Parker
01959 563214
Article date - 14/01/2015
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