Beer & Food

How to pair beers with different styles of food.

Meals

Lighter ales for lighter meals.
The same way you pick specific wines to match with certain foods, similar principles also apply with beer. Lighter-style beers supplement lighter meals like chicken, seafood, salads, pastas, and casseroles.

On the other hand, Ales show maltier and body sweetness, therefore, they go well with foods that are boiled, roasted, or barbecued. Even turkey or chicken will complement light ales when roasted.

Heavier ales for game and red meats.
Heavier ales, that are rich in malt, pair perfectly with game and red meats. In case they are extremely heavy and dark, they can go well on their own after a meal like a dessert. Essentially, the more complex the intensity of cooking the food is, the heavier the beer that can perfectly match with the meal.

Having doubts on what type of beer to serve with your food? Here is a perfect rule of thumb that you can follow: A light cooking, goes well with a light beer. A more roasted food, pairs well with a more roasted malt (just go with a darker ale).

Antipasto

Antipasto simply means "before the meal" in Italian. Traditionally, it consists of cured meats, olives, bruschetta, vegetables soaked in vinegar or oil and a diverse range of cheeses including goat cheese, provolone, or mozzarella. It may seem daunting to create a beer pairing to contrast or complement these foods, however, with these suggestions your light meal will be absolutely tasty.

The ever-popular and equally tasty bruschetta is perfectly paired with a refreshing, golden lager. The light hoppy flavoring of lagers cut through the dominant zing of garlics in this meal while stressing the lighter side of onions and the sweetness of the tomatoes. The grainy taste typical with malts will go well with the toasted baguette, however, it will leave you with a cleansed palate sensation after every sip.

Matured provolone usually consists of very sharp, bold tastes and requires a beer with lots of malt flavoring to perfectly supplement its strong nature. Nut brown ales have the right qualities to cut through the cheeses salt to allow you to really feel the sweet undertones. Wheat beers that carry a concentrated, sweet taste will go well with a goat cheese. When matching these two, the higher the pungent of the cheese, the fuller bodied you will desire your wheat beer to be.

When pairing spicy meats such as Genoa salami, you'll desire the complementary aromatic flavors of a hoppy IPA. Cured meats such as prosciutto carry the sweet notes of ham which can be perfectly contrasted with a dark, strong porter. The sweetness of the beer and the pork will contrast each other to allow the malts to actually come out of the beer.

Brunch

Thinking of beer for breakfast? It might sound crazy, but as beer and food pairings gain popularity, the thought of having a delicious meal doesn't seem so crazy. It might be 11 o'clock somewhere who cares!

Depending on the choice of brunch that you prefer, be sure to pick the right choice of beer pairing. For those cheese and egg lovers, the right choice will be a radler or a wheat beer to match with your traditional brunch. The citrus of the beer paired with the numerous choices of how to prepare an egg will entice your taste buds with your early afternoon treats. It may also go well with a tacos breakfast.

For those who love a French toast, reach for that late morning stout to complement your brunch. The roasted flavors of the stout pairs deliciously with the feel of the eggy toast. Don't limit yourself! Pairing your breakfast with a traditional Shandy (any beer blended with lemonade, orange juice etc.), will be a tasty way to kick off your morning! Bottoms up! Let's have some fun!
 

Fish Tacos

Not only are fish tacos delicious, but they are very versatile with immense recipes and combinations for beer pairings.

Popular toppings include cilantro, coleslaw or guacamole, avocado, a mild, medium, or spicy salsa, and a freshly sliced lime served on a soft flour tortilla or a hard corn shell. The sea has numerous types of fish, feel free to try and experiment as many as you can, either grilled or fried!

Grilled fish can offer a delicious char taste to a light tasting taco. Try matching the roasted flavor of the grilled fish with an amber ale. Depending on how you can tolerate heat, you might prefer to go bold with a spicier salsa. Ensure to select a hop-heavy IPA to really feel the spices without becoming overpowered. The citrusy hop flavors will bring out a touch of sweetness to your food, as well.

Frying your fish helps to open up more options for your beer pairing. Ever sampled a beer-battered fish taco? Well, you need to give it a try. Whether you are pairing it with the meal or using it in the batter, two perfect options are a traditional Cerveza or a citrusy wheat beer. The floral notes of a wheat beer will bring out its own flavor to your taco and will pair nicely with a freshly squeezed lime. Pairing your tacos with a Cerveza will act as a palate cleanser and allow the beer to cut through the fried batter, making your subsequent bite just as good as your first.

Cheese

Traditionally, cheese and beer are two farmhouse products made with related basic ingredients that undergo a similar aging and fermentation process. These similar qualities allow for a perfect pairing as cheese and beer naturally share related flavors. The carbonation of beer is the right palette cleanser for the fatty and creamy texture of the cheese.

Fresh, soft cheeses like cream cheese, ricotta, and cottage cheese are best paired with wheat beers, mellow beers, or lagers. Curd cheeses called Pasta filata features lighter flavored cheese like provolone and mozzarella, which pair perfectly with Bavarian whites, and Belgian wits, as well as wheat beers.

Porters, Pilsners, and pale ales are best paired with spreadable soft cheeses with bloomy rinds like brie and camembert. Washed-rind cheeses with a semi-soft feel such as Colby, Havarti, Gouda, and Monterey Jack are best served with amber ales, brown ales, Belgian pale ales and bitters.

Semi-hard cheeses such as cheddar should be paired with Pilsners, IPAs and bitters. Hard cheeses like parmesan, have a firm and grainy texture and are best paired with stouts, porters, and strong ales. Stouts, stronger porters, and Ales are best paired with marbled, blue vein cheese with a strong flavor, and crumbly texture like gorgonzola, Roquefort, and other blue cheeses.

Festive Treats

Cookies and beer are an improbable pair, but believe it or not, they go well together all year round! The holidays offer the perfect excuse to sample out all your favorite treats!

Gingerbread Cookies: The aroma and taste of ginger is usually associated with the holiday season. These cookies come in all sorts of variations; gingerbread, ginger snaps, and molasses cookies to name just a few. The ginger and spices should be paired with hoppy beer such as IPA. The maltiness of the beer tends to balance the spice and sweetness of the cookie. You'll definitely want to try this flavor mix all year round!

Shortbread Cookies: These old-school cookies should be served with a traditional style beer, such as a Porter or a Scottish Ale. The fine flavors of the shortbread cookie are complemented but not overwhelmed by the fruity and dark notes.

Sugar Cookies: These popular delicacies generally have the added bonus of sprinkles and icing on top. A light Belgian blonde ale has the perfect amount of fruit and spice tones to balance the icing and sugar, yet allowing the carbonation to purify the palate for the subsequent round of treats!

Harvest Food

Pumpkin is a fall favorite and its adaptable flavor pairs well with most beer options.

Traditionally, pumpkin pies combine the unique pumpkin flavor with fine hints of clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, and all the spice. When matching a beer with pumpkin pie, ensure to pick one that does not overwhelm the delicate flavor of the pie. The sweetness of pumpkin pie goes well with the contrasting bitterness of a heavily roasted, dark stout.
Similar to the flavor profile of dark chocolate and coffee, the roasted elements of stout make a perfect combination with the sweet flavor and hint of spices present in the pumpkin pie.

Butternut squash soup is the ideal fall comfort meal. Butternut squash soup can fluctuate between sweet and spicy, thus changing the ideal beer pairing.
Butternut squash soups require a bitter contrast to cut through the creamy flavor of the meal. India Pale Ales have the right flavor profile to contrast but fail to overpower the subtle flavors of the squash.
In case of a spicier butternut squash soup, you can experiment with a refreshing and cool light lager to cleanse your palate.

Grilling corn on the cob is a perfect way to pack extra flavor into an already tasty meal. Whether smothered in salt, pepper and butter or submerged in grated parmesan and herbs, nothing beats a fine sweet lager to gently complement the crisp flavor of corn. The flavor also brings out added contrast to the smoky flavor from the grill, making this pairing an instant favorite.

Turkey

The holidays are the perfect time to enjoy great food, and of course, great beer. Are you aware that pairing the right beer with your holiday feast can optimize the whole dining experience?

While one style may not be the perfect pairing for all flavors on your plate, you may consider checking some key taste notes that can prove ideal when choosing the right beer to serve. Consider the following tips on how to pair your holiday dish with your favorite brews.

With a traditional roasted turkey, amber ales and dark malts are the ideal pairing options. The browning during the brewing process is just like the caramelizing that happens in the oven as the turkey is roasting.

Malt beer showcases the spices and herbs used in the stuffing to make a resonating blend that is sure to leave your guests pleased.

Belgian ale is strong and heavy enough to cut through starchy vegetables and fatty meats, making it a great choice for those looking to enjoy a little contrast.

IPAs should be avoided as the bitterness tends to distract from the mild earthy flavors of the dish.

Steak

Steak is a heavy meal with diverse flavors, which makes it combine perfectly with heavier beers. Whichever way it is cooked, it requires to be matched with a beer that can complement its intensity.

When preparing a standard grilled steak, it can go well with a red ale. Red ales are heavy and have a roasted aroma that allows them to supplement the taste of the grilled juicy meat.

Porters also pair perfectly with a steak, mostly a porterhouse steak. The full sweetness of a porter allows it to compete with the rich meaty feel of a steak from rare to well done.

Rare steak and steak tartar should be paired with a stout. The smoothness of the stout complements the texture of raw meat and is strong enough to bring out the flavors.

Pulled Pork

Pulled pork is a rich and savory meal infused with garlic and onions with a saucy texture. Pulled pork can vary with individual preference, it is, therefore, important to pair it with a beer that complements its base flavors.

Pulled pork goes well with a pale ale. Pale ales are hoppier and are able to cut through the spices of the seasoning. Pale ales also have sweet notes which complement well with the tangy flavor of pulled pork. A honey ale can contrast the intensity, in case the pulled pork is more on the spicy side.

A porter, especially a smoked porter, would also pair perfectly with pulled pork. Pulled pork is mostly characterized by a smoky aroma which can be complemented by the smoky malts of a porter. Porters also have fine hints of chocolate which enhance the flavor of the sauce.

Burgers

Burgers are packed with flavor and rich with juices. It can be tricky to find the best type of beer to pair with a burger. An extremely heavy beer will be overpowering while an equally light beer can get lost in the flavors.

Pale ales are perfectly suited for a traditional burger with higher fat content. High carbonation coupled with the bitterness of the hops, cut through the fat and cleanse the palette, especially if you are topping the burger with bacon or sharp cheese.

Burgers that are prepared using lean beef pair perfectly with a pilsner. Pilsners act just like pale ales; however, they are slightly lighter to complement lean beef.

Burgers loaded with grilled vegetables or Veggie burgers are best paired with wheat beers. The light flavor of a wheat beer enhances the aromas of the veggies.

Chicken Wings

Chicken wings and beer are a classic combination. Different types of wings require different styles of beer. Selecting the perfect style of beer can supplement this crowd favorite.

Buffalo wings are the most common type of wings. These wings normally are not breaded and covered in hot sauce. Buffalo wings are best served with IPAs or Pale ales. The bitter hops of pale ales allow them to cut through the hot sauce. Pale ale is not too complex as to not overpower the intensity of the heat and is, therefore, a great option to help you to cool down your palette.

Dry rub wings are seasoned with a range of spices that contain multitude of a variety of flavors. These wings are best paired with a brown ale. Brown ales have a rich flavor which allows them to withstand the complexity of dry rub wings, nonetheless, they are light enough to be refreshing.

Barbeque wings can vary from mild to hot and contain a combination of spices and sauces like chili, pepper, garlic, honey, and barbeque sauce. They are normally grilled to make them a perfect pair with a porter. Porters are quite rich and cloudy, they compare well with the weighty smoky flavors of grilled barbeque wings.

Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is a delicious and savory dish with a variety of flavors. Roast chicken is, therefore, easy to pair with a variety of beer styles. Typically, chicken is best paired a lighter beer, since it is a light meal.

Amber ales are well balanced and should be paired with lighter and heavier meals. This makes Amber ales ideal for pairing with roast chicken. They match the light flavors of chicken but can withstand the strong herbal spices. The caramel notes of Amber ale complement the crispy and almost caramelized outer layer of roast chicken.

German-style lagers are also a perfect choice. These lagers are normally lighter in flavor which makes them easy to drink. German lagers are recognized for their slight sweetness that showcases the sweet notes of roast chicken, while the hops of these lagers complement the savory seasoning.

Hearty Meals

During the crisp winter days pairing a delicious, cold beer with a warm bowl of soothing soup might be a distinct concept for most beer enthusiasts, however, with the right pairing, a beer can add new and pleasant flavors to a steamy bowl of soup.

A soup can either be served as a starter to most dishes or can also be a comfort meal and the main course. An Italian sausage tortellini soup for instance, can be served as a whole meal in a bowl. When the soup contains cheese, pasta, meat, and veggies, pairing it with the perfect beer can add another aspect of flavors to your soup. For instance, an IPA will really bring out the spicy flavor in the sausage and surprisingly turn up the heat of the spice too. The nature of your beer can control the spiciness of your comfort meal and can also be an excellent experiment with lots of delectable results.

Rich and hearty beef stews are best paired with a beer that is also rich and hearty. Stews should be paired with stouts or heavy porters in order to enjoy the complementing flavors that will not be over toned by each other. Surprisingly, the seasonings in the stew will be boosted by the roasted flavors in thick beers.

A tomato-based soup is best paired with a wheat beer. The strong fruit tones of the wheat beer cut through the acidity of the tomatoes. Heavy mushroom soups are best paired with a brown ale which enables you to taste the earthy sweetness of the mushrooms.

Cooking with beer can be a delicious option. If you are craving for a rich, velvety cheese soup with a stunning flavor of cheddar, you can experiment using a very mellow tasting lager to highlight the cheese. Of course, there are porters and stouts that you can add to your stew too. The toasted malt and caramelized flavors of these beers work amazingly with slow-cooked meat.

Pasta

When pairing pasta with beer, you are basically matching the beer to the sauce since the base pasta is made with similar ingredients. The yeast in beer always brings out the grainy texture of pasta, nonetheless, distinct types of beer are required for the diverse range of sauces.

A standard tomato sauce that has a balance of heavy and light flavors, will be best paired with a similarly balanced beer, like an amber ale. The hops of an amber ale cut through the acidity of the tomato while the slight sweetness of the beer supplements the subtle flavor of the sauce.

A spicy meat-based tomato sauce can pair perfectly with an India pale ale. The additional hops of an IPA cut through the spice and heavy meats that comprise the sauce and also cools down your palette.

Pesto sauce is made with strong herbs that are best suited with a Belgian ale. The spices and herbs of a Belgian ale complement the aroma of pesto. The slight flavor of the ale brings out the flavors of the vegetables in the sauce.

Alfredo sauce has a creamy and rich texture that is perfectly paired with a stout. Stouts are recognized as one of the heaviest types of beer and they go well with the richness of Alfredo sauce. An oatmeal stout would pair nicely since the slight flavor of the beer would highlight the creamy quality of the sauce.

Pizza

Beer and pizza are a favorite combination that never goes wrong, sadly, the combination isn't given much thought. Selecting the perfect beers to match various pizzas can enhance this staple food.

Pilsners can pair very well with a classic Margherita pizza since they are light, while the pizza has a light flavor. The Pilsner cannot overpower the simplicity of the ingredients used to make the pizza. The hoppy flavors of an amber ale would also be perfect to complement the crust, they also cut through the acidity of the tomato sauce.

Hoppy IPAs can pair very well with traditional pepperoni pizzas, they also help to cleanse the palette of greasy, salty flavors while balancing the spices in the sauce. IPAs compare well with the heavier ingredients and dense crust of pepperoni pizza.

Bacon and pineapple pizza pairs well with brown ales and lagers. The saltiness of the bacon contrasts the caramel undertones of a brown ale, while the malt notes of a lager compliment the flavor of the pineapple.

S'mores

S'mores are the perfect dessert for a campfire. These treats can be paired with a late-night beer to make wrapping up your summer night a worthwhile moment.

In case you are planning to construct a stack of marshmallows and chocolate, conveniently molded in between a pair of crunchy graham crackers roasted over an open fire, then you need to select the right way to conclude a summer's night. Pair this mini treat with a beer and take your s'mores to a whole new level!

You can pair your s'mores with a dark strong ale, a porter, a coffee or chocolate flavored stout and you'll enjoy a mouthwatering combo of notes from the sweetness of the graham cracker, and chocolate, caramelized skin of the marshmallow. It pairs perfectly with the depth of the stout, porter, or ale.

A flavored stout will bring out that extra burst of aroma to the delicious little sandwich. Prepare to create a tasty mess!

*Tip: A treat is always best experienced with friends.

Fruit

Fruit and beer can make an amazingly delicious combination. Many beers constitute traces of fruit which makes it a perfect match. Some beers have subtle undertones that compare and contrast nicely with the distinct flavors of fruit.

Wheat beers and oranges are the most obvious fruit and beer combination. Wheat beers integrate orange peels in the brewing process to give it an outstanding citrus flavor that is intensified when paired with oranges. The wheat used in wheat beers has high levels of malt which cuts through the strong acidity in oranges.

Brown ale pairs well with Apples. The grainy texture and sweet juice of apples compare well with the malty sweetness of the beer. Apples and caramel have always produced a perfect combination, making the caramel notes in brown ales the right match for apples.

Although fruit is mostly light in flavor and pairs well with a lighter beer like a pilsner, strawberries are strong fruits and should pair with a stout. The sweetness of strawberry lasts long on the palette and therefore, it should be matched with a beer that does the same, such as stout. Stouts also contain subtle hints of chocolate which makes it pair well with strawberries.

Chocolate

Although chocolate and beer are not typically two items that go together, chocolate has earthy flavors which make it a great combination for a variety of beer types. Chocolate varies from an array of flavors and intensities which makes it an ideal match with diverse levels of beer.

Dark chocolate easily pairs with almost all types of beer. Stouts contain strong coffee and chocolate notes which makes it the best to pair with the strong flavor of extremely dark chocolate. Pilsners go well with lower percentage dark chocolate as they contrast the bitterness of the chocolate but are not overpowered. Wheat beers also pair very well with dark chocolate. Wheat beer has citrus notes which cut through the strong and bitter flavor and compare the chocolate flavor.

Milk chocolate is trickier to pair due to the higher levels of sugar. IPAs and Pale ales are the best to pair with milk chocolate. The bitterness of pale ale contrasts the flavor of milk chocolate. Selecting milk chocolate at about half of the concentration (50%) ensures the chocolate aromas are not overwhelmed.Beer Tastings

Find beer tastings