If you love chowing down on a bucket of fried chicken, whether that's at KFC, a local haunt, or a county fair, it pays to know what drink to pair it with. Fried chicken can be quite rich and can coat the tongue with strong flavors that can be hard to cut through. While plenty of us reach for the soda, there may actually be a better option out there that pairs well with the flavors of fried chicken: beer.
The bitter flavor of the brew, as well as the bubbles in the drink, can help serve as a palate cleanser in between mouthfuls of chicken. Jessie Massie, Taproom Executive Chef at Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., wholeheartedly supports this combination, telling the Daily Meal, "Fried chicken deserves the trusty sidekick of a beer every time." To enjoy this duo yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind as you select your beer. And, if you're not a fan of this beverage or aren't an alcohol drinker, there are a couple of alternatives out there that do a similar job.
Choosing The Right Beer And Chicken Pairing
When it comes to choosing beer and fried chicken pairings, you want to make sure you don't go for brews that overpower the meat. Instead, look for ones that have complementary flavors. While the bitterness and effervescence can help cleanse your palate, flavors that pair well with the richness of fried chicken can also level up your overall tasting experience.
A good choice could be a hoppy beer, such as a pale ale, which has a malty sweetness to it that can balance out the saltier notes of the savory meal. Or, you could go for a hefeweizen, which won't overpower the meal, but also won't be so light that the strong flavors of the chicken cover up the undertones of the beer.
Massie also tells us to "keep an eye out for the IBU rating, which will indicate what level of perceived bitterness you can expect. Bitterness isn't all bad, but not all dishes will benefit from a bitter beer." Beers generally have IBU ratings of between five and 120. Sticking with middle-of-the-road beers can work well for fried food pairings, such as chicken.
What If You Don't Like Beer?
If you're not a beer drinker, there are still plenty of great beverages out there to pair with your fried chicken. According to Massie, the best pick is to "reach for a quality non-alcoholic beer." However, you could also try sparkling water, ideally a flavored one that will add complementary notes to your meal.
For those who are okay with some booze but don't necessarily want a beer, another good choice is champagne or another dry sparkling wine, as the tannins will balance the fat in the meat with their astringent taste. The brightness of these drinks, along with the signature bubbles, can work well to offset the rich flavors of the chicken.
Another option could be to go for a hard cider. A sweeter cider can work well to offset a spicy fried chicken, for instance. Or, pair the bird with a dry cider for a bubbly, refreshing effect against the meal's savory richness. With all of these pairings, you've got plenty of options available next time you're out to enjoy this tasty fried dish!
Read the original article on Daily Meal.