Finding that perfect drink to match your best recipes can be tricky. While a lot of drink and food pairing revolves around wine, beer can also make the perfect accompaniment to the right dish.
Here are some of the best food and beer pairing combinations to help you get the most out of your recipes this year.
Pilsner is a pale lager hailing from the Czech city of Plzeň, but has evolved into a number of styles, ranging from German to American, and Dutch to Belgian. This gives it a variety of flavors, but the traditional Czech style has a light malty taste that is perfect with seasoned Eastern European sausage. Where better to turn to than kielbasa?
While kielbasa can include a broad range of meats, we love pairing ground turkey and pilsner in our turkey kielbasa recipe. The sausage is soaked and slow-cooked in pilsner for six hours, becoming enriched in the malty flavors of the Czech lager.
Cured Ham & Sausage: German Wheat Beer
Brewed with mixtures of barley grains and wheat, the best thing about wheat beer is that it’s very flexible in what it can be paired with.
There are two distinct types: One is the type found in Belgium and Northern France (which I’ll discuss later) and the other is German, sometimes known as Hefeweizen.
German wheat beer is light enough to go with delicate food, while also smooth enough to stand up to heavier dishes. However because it’s Bavarian in origin, I think it’s the perfect match for cured meats, sausage and ham.
Pork in particular often goes well with fruity flavors, which means it’s a great match for the banana-like notes in Hefeweizen.
Try: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier, by Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan
Pilsner often carries a far more subtle flavor that beers or ales, and doesn’t bring as much of a bitter taste. It can also be quite sweet, and tends to be lighter than other types of beer. These qualities make it the ideal type of beer for dishes with a piquant edge to them.
A lot of people might choose to match lager with Mexican dishes like tacos or carnitas, but I find pilsner a much better fit.
Try: The Crisp, by Sixpoint Brewery
Indian Curry: American IPA
Originally I had this as IPAs in general, but the truth is that IPAs can vary greatly in style, with some very bitter while others are more hoppy. American IPAs are very hoppy but also very bitter, while English IPAs are more balanced and sharp. I like my IPA very hoppy, so I’m going to focus on the American style of Indian pale ales.
The hops and strong aromas in IPA goes really well with a lot of spices that you find in Indian food, particularly curries. Many Indian curry dishes contain ghee, which is the butter that makes them so smooth and rich. IPA matches perfectly with this.
If you’re having a particularly spicy curry, then the cool bitterness and malt is great at helping to temper the spice without dominating it.
Try: Brooklyn East IPA, by Brooklyn Brewery
Brisket: Amber Ale
This kind of beer is characterized by medium bitterness, and the color is a list of amber to deep reddish-gold. The beer has intense flavors of malt and contains some notes of delightful caramel and have a flowery aroma.
This kind of beer lacks sweet flavours, and most of them boast a crisp and dry finish. This actually makes them a really good palate cleanser for you to enjoy before eating something strong in flavor. For me this means things like ‘statement’ BBQ meats, so I recommend trying this with brisket.
Try: American Amber Ale, by Rogue
Pizza: Dark Lagers
The beer is made of roasted malts, and you will notice that there is a variety of them laced with caramel syrup to sweeten up the beer.
Dark Lagers have a unique, kind of nutty flavor from the malt. This beer makes the perfect complement to heavy stews and hearty sausages.
Crispy foods like burgers and pizza contain starchy crusts so this would be fine with the bread aspect of dark lager.
Try: Dominion Dark Lager, by Vancouver Island Brewing
Roast Pork: Brown Ales
This beer brings you the coffee and chocolate flavors similar to those of porters and stouts. Some English variations of the brown ales have nutty dry flavors. The taste of this beer is not so fashionable these days, but it’s still an excellent companion to any food you are planning to include in your pairing. Heavy meat dishes such as roast pork and delicate foods like rice, fish, and sushi are the meals you can take with brown ales.
Try: Georgia Brown, by SweetWater Brewery
Crab & Lobster: Porters
They originated in London with the first variety being dark and strong flavored. Today, porters come in a variety of styles and mild flavors but still maintain the signature dark color and beautiful aroma. Porters beer posses strong notes of caramel, coffee, and chocolate. Due to the rich and deep flavor, it makes it best to pair the beer with foods with similar texture and taste. Take, for example, the legs of crabs and lobsters, they are buttery. This makes them the perfect candidate for a porters drink. Unfortunately, those legs are not the only ones good for the coalition. Barbecue and Mexican mole among other dark foods rich in flavor complete with sweet undertones will give you the sense of chocolate and coffee notes in porters.
Try: P-51 Porter, by Wingman Brewers
This beer is best known for the black color and roasted flavor similar to that of porters beers. The appearance of this beer should never deceive you: it is not high in flavor, bitterness, and alcohol content. There are a lot of mild well-rounded classes of stout coupled with a consistent silky smoothness. The low alcohol content and flavor make this type of beer perfect for accompanying with various kinds of desserts. Those rich types of desserts such as chocolate mousse and dark chocolate truffles will bring you the delicious flavors out of the beer. The list does not end there; spicy foods such as lobster, mole, and barbecue pair well with stout beer.
Try: Stone Xocoveza, by Stone Brewing
Smoked Cheese: Schwarzbier
This kind of beer tends to have an opaque and black in color. German Schwarzbiers are quite dry and roast-orientated, which contributes to a combination of hints of coffee and chocolate flavors. This type of beer is made from roasted malt, and this is what gives it the dark color. Compared to a lot of other beers though, they are very light on bitterness and sweetness.
The bold and smooth coffee-like flavors makes this beer a great partner to smoked cheeses, particularly something like Gouda.
Try: Death & Taxes, by Moonlight Brewing Company
Cheeseburgers: Amber American Lager
This one features endemic malt flavors with altering levels of hop content. It also has dark colors, smooth taste, and caramel aroma. You can find this type of beer in the form of Nugget Nectar or Yuengling Lager Whichever you choose from the full range, you will find delicacies such as American cuisine and cheddar doing just fine with the beer.
Try: Samuel Adams Boston Lager, by Boston Beer Co
Roast Pork: Doppelbock
This type of beer is stronger than the traditional style and has a higher alcohol content of around 6.6-7.9% ABV with a fuller body. Some of the beer in this category includes Paulaner Salvator Doppelbock and Samuel Adams Double Bock. Are you planning to take some red meat? Sharp cheeses? Well, this is the beer to pair with these kinds of meals.
Try: Celebrator Doppelbock, by Ayinger
Tartiflette: Belgian Blonde Beer
‘Belgian beer’ is a very broad term, so I’m narrowing it down to blonde beer. There are a lot (and I mean a lot) of different types of Belgian beer, but this one features in this list because of its aromatic spice and citrus notes.
It goes really well with cheese and potatoes, so I recommend pairing it with an authentic French or Belgian tartiflette.
Try: St. Feuillien Blonde