Forget about pairing your white wines with whatever type of food goes with white wine. We’re here to talk beer!
Finding foods that go with beer isn’t as easy as “white beers for fish” or “red beers for steak.” Alas, if only it were that easy. Beers are complex, and different styles can have wildly different flavors.
Honestly, the flavor from one IPA to another IPA can be so different that it’s tough to accept that they are both IPAs.
The best we can do is generalize the styles and find out what works well with them. Don’t worry, you don’t need to sit down and come up with your own pairing list – I’ve done it for you.
Food and Beer Pairing: The Basics
I’m sure that some culinary experts could create a list of fantastic basic rules for beer paring with food, and I’m also sure that experts can disagree on just about every point.
So, here’s my amateur opinion on food and beer pairing that, considering my years of experience, holds some value.
Think About Regional Trends
Having sausages? Try something German. Eating a burger? An American ale or lager would be great.
Cuisine isn’t just some happy accident — experts in flavor and taste have spent years honing in on regional ingredients to create the perfect dishes. It only makes sense that beers from the same region would match the broader taste profile.
Drink What You Enjoy
If you absolutely hate sours but some random internet article is telling you that you have to pair your meal with a sour, just don’t. Trust this random internet article instead and drink what you enjoy.
Just don’t mistake this tip for “don’t try anything new,” since I encourage trying new things. But I don’t encourage intentionally having things you don’t like.
Don’t Do Too Much
Don’t do too much. Don’t maple syrup on a steak. Don’t deep-fry fruit. Don’t pair a DDH IIIPA with a funnel cake.
Just don’t do it.
Too much is too much, and you’re going to literally destroy your ability to ever taste anything again if you do too much. You’ll also gross out everyone around you, and maybe even yourself. So just don’t do it.
Trust Your Gut
If it sounds good, it’s probably good. If it sounds bad, it’s probably bad.
Truly, pairing beer and food can be this simple.
Beers to Pair with Foods
Instead of doing a long list of foods and saying “drink this and that,” I’m going with the quicker, more sensical route of starting with the type of beer and suggesting the foods that pair with it. This just seems so much simpler to do, and it saves you from having to scroll down a full page of text looking for some specific meal.
What to Pair with Ales
The trusty ale should be paired with trusty foods, and nothing is trustier than a hamburger. Also, good with ales are just about any fried food, anything with nuts, cheddar cheese, nachos…basically anything that you’d find on a traditional pub menu.
What to Pair with Lagers
Lagers are going to be your closest thing to white wine, and by that, I mean you should drink a lager if you’re eating seafoods, sushi, shellfish, etc. Also, good with a lager: chicken and spicy foods, as well as many pasta dishes.
What to Pair with IPAs
The bitterer brother of the ale, IPAs are going to pair well with the same foods as ales. I’d also say that spicy food work well with IPAs since the bitter hoppy flavor and the spice can really pack a 1-2 punch.
What to Pair with Pilsners
Like lagers, pilsners will go better with seafood than most beers. However, if you’re planning a salmon dinner then you should definitely pick a pilsner. Spicy foods pair will with pilsners as well, so Mexican or Asian dishes with spice will taste even better.
What to Pair with Porters
Anything that feels heavy should go with a porter. Chili, barbecue and most meats are going to be good compliments to the classic porter style.
What to Pair with Stouts
Because stouts and porters have so much in common, you can easily get away with substituting one for the other in a beer pairing. Since stouts can sometimes run a little sweet, salty foods might taste particularly good.
What to Pair with Hefeweizens
Light beers like hefeweizens deserve lighter fare. Any type of salad should go well with a hefe, as well as different types of fruits. There’s a reason people put citrus in hefes, you know!
What to Pair with Barleywines
I’m not sure how anyone can make room in their stomach while drinking barleywine, but the only way to pair with this has to be a dessert. Something decadent and small might be good, like a cheesecake, something with cinnamon or even cookies. Just grab some dessert!