Beer and gelato

Food pairing and experiments in the world of artisanal gelato

Monday, March 13, 2017 — Besides gelato, Simone De Feo is also wild about beer. To bring the two worlds together, he developed a set of rules to pair gourmet gelato with artisanal beer.

 “I’ve been nourishing my passion for beer for many years,” says De Feo, “and it seemed only natural to me to pair beer with gourmet gelato, which is usually inspired by a savory recipe.”

Although he does not define himself as an expert, De Feo does have a great knowledge of the world of European artisanal beer. His food pairings originate in the diversified landscape of flavors that he has memorized over the years.

 “The sensory memory that each of us has, and that we train every day, allows us to play with flavors based on what they suggest to us, but there is no perfect match. Only by tasting and practicing can one learn which gelato is best paired with a certain type of beer.”

It’s important to also remember that not all beers can be paired with gelato. The most difficult types are bitters—American Pale Ale, Indian Pale Ale and their infinite new declinations—as their bitter taste tends to dominate all other flavors.

Symphony of aromas
How to pair beer with gourmet gelato?

The pairing between beer and gourmet gelato by Simone De Feo (who was awarded the Tre Coni in the Gambero Rosso guide to the best Italian gelato parlors), comes through a personal approach that blends sensory memory with technical skill.

“I always start by tasting the beer,” he says. “After I take a few sips, I let the persistent flavor of the beer suggest the best pairing. This method is similar to the one I use to combine beers with a dish. “Recently, I drank a Zinnebir from Brasserie de la Senne in Brussels. I tasted it. As I took in its aroma, I wondered what dish I would pair the beer with. The first thing I thought of was a salad of oranges, olives and fennel that my mother used to make.”

The beer, somewhat like Proust’s madeleine, was for De Feo the inspiration for a pairing with a gourmet gelato based on orange peel, fennel seeds, roasted black olives and Fontina cheese (that is also useful for texture). However, intuition and emotion are not enough to succeed in the “game of flavors”: the skill of the gelato master is essential to fully understand if the gelato has all the characteristics it needs to keep up with the beer with which it has been matched. It is often necessary to include a cheese with a strong aromatic personality as an ingredient in order to draw out the more delicate flavors.

Symphony of temperatures

“The pairings possibilities between gourmet gelato and beer are practically infinite," explains De Feo. “In general, the process is facilitated by serving temperatures: gourmet gelato pairs well with beer because both are served cold.”

Beer is usually consumed at a temperature ranging between 5°C and 13°C, which allows the palate to cool down and prepare for the gelato, which is generally served at -13°C. Since both products are tasted at temperatures lower than wine, the cold does not numb the palate. Instead, it creates interesting reactions in flavors, drawing out certain smells and tastes while minimizing others.

The gourmet flavors and their pairings

Here are some examples of the gourmet gelato flavors created by Simone De Feo and paired with artisan beers.
• Butter and anchovies gelato paired with Gueuze Lambic by Cantillon
• Fontina cheese, orange peel, roasted black olives and fennel seed gelato paired with Zinnebir by Brasserie de la Senne
• Gelato of whipped and herbed baccalà (dried and salted cod) paired with Youth Attack by Brewery Dada
• Goat cheese, black olives, orange peel and fennel gelato paired with Gose beer by Lipsia

Cremeria Capolinea, Gelato al Tosone e spalla di San Secondo con birra The Kernel
Cremeria Capolinea, Gelato al Tosone e spalla di San Secondo con birra The Kernel
Cremeria Capolinea, Gelato al burro e alici con birra Gueuze Lambic di Cantillon
Cremeria Capolinea, Gelato al burro e alici con birra Gueuze Lambic di Cantillon
Cremeria Capolinea, Gelato alla fontina, scorzette di arancio, olive nere cotte al forno e semi di finocchio con Zinnebir de la Senn
Cremeria Capolinea, Simone De Feo