Beer & Food Pairings
Beer is as versatile as it is diverse, providing both complementary and contrasting experiences when paired with food. The following menu will help you to explore and enhance your enjoyment of beer & food pairing. The more hop bitterness the beer possesses, the heartier or livelier the meal needs to be to hold its own. Don’t overwhelm your palate or meal and ruin what the chef was trying to achieve.
Another general rule is keep sweet with sweet, and tart with tart. Try to keep your beer sweeter or tarter than the sweet or tart food on the plate. There are exceptions, like pairing drier robust beers with sweet chocolates.
Sometimes it’s good to throw all of the rules out the window and experiment with contrasting and complimentary pairings. Match foods with complimentary flavors, or try contrasting them and create a slew of unique results.
For those who are bound to the wine pairing school of thought, think of ale as red wine and lager as white wine. Hoppy beers can also be used in place of a pairing that calls for acidic wine. Though it honestly doesn’t matter, these tips might help you to convert your taste buds over to beer—or those of a friend.
Taste is very subjective and what works for one person might not work for another. If it tastes good to you, then go for it. However, be open for suggestions, as these tend to come with some knowledge and possible palate enlightenment.
Ideal food matches and related recipes suggestions are below.
Pair with: Burgers; buffalo wings; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food; nutty food; fried food; pizza; steaks; Cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheeses.
Recipes to try: Burgers with Mozzarella and Spinach-Arugula Pesto; Chicken Curry with Sweet Potatoes
Pair with: Gruyère, Emmental, and Swiss cheeses; Cajun food; jerk chicken; beef; sausage; seared foods.
Recipes to try: Jerk Chicken; Grilled Monster Pork Chops with Tomatillo and Green Apple Sauce
Pair with: Mascarpone cheese; light white meat; foods driven by herbs and spices; duck and pork dishes with sweet components (avoid very tart lambics); pickled dishes (great with tart lambics); salads with fruity dressings; fruity desserts.
Recipes to try: Mussels with Garlic Butter; Prune, Cherry, and Apricot Frangipane Tart
Pair with: Shellfish; light seafood; sushi; grilled pork and chicken; not-too-heavy pasta dishes (without cream or meat sauces); Southeast Asian food; Latin food; Mexican food; spicy food.
Recipes to try: Bratwurst in Beer; Fried Fish Tacos
Pair with: American cheese; Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack cheeses; salads; light seafood; salmon; tuna; trout; asparagus; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food.
Recipes to try: Tuscan Tuna Salad with Fennel; Sweet-Onion Quesadillas
Pair with: Smoked foods; barbecue; sausage; rich stews; meats; bacon; chili; braised dishes.
Recipes to try: Cantabrian Meat Stew with Chickpeas; Smoked Duck and Walnuts with Winter Greens
Pair with: Roasted foods; smoked foods; barbecued/grilled foods; salty foods; oysters; rich stews; braised dishes; chocolate; desserts (ideally the beer is sweeter than the dish).
Recipes to try: Braised Lamb Shanks with Coriander, Fennel, and Star Anise; Gramercy Tavern Gingerbread
Wheat Beer/ Hefeweizen:
Pair with: Light soups and salads; vegetarian dishes; sushi; Gruyère cheese and Feta/goat cheese; sweet and fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.
Recipes to try: Crab Cakes with Herb Salad; Penne with Grilled Portabellas and Pecorino
Links to Beer & Food Matching: