Manology: How to Pair Beer with Food
Beer is as versatile as it is diverse, providing both complementary and contrasting experiences when paired with food. In fact, a good beer can bring out the best in any dish — if you know which kind to choose. Here are a few pairing suggestions for the most commonly-found beer types:
- India Pale Ale. A sweet, citrusy beer with an abundance of bitter hops. Pairs best with spicy foods like curry and kimchi, or rich, sweet desserts like crème brulee and carrot cake. My pick.
- Amber Ale. A milder ale that still retains its hoppy flavor and caramel top notes. Goes well with smoky, moderately spicy foods like barbecue, smoked bacon, jerk chicken and chili.
- Belgian Ale. These rich, spicy beers have varying levels of bitterness with a fruit fragrance. Much like amber ale, they pair well with meaty stews, barbecue, and almost any smoked food.
- A hoppy, bitter beer with a light body and a refreshing finish. Complements fatty fish like salmon and tuna, along with lighter meats like chicken and sausage.
- This beer is light, crisp and supremely refreshing. It pairs well with anything, though it goes best with garlic-heavy foods (typically Italian and Spanish), as well as Mexican and Asian dishes.
- Kolsch/Cream Ale/Blonde Ale. Smooth, malty beers that balance sweetness and bitterness. Complement foods that blend sweet and spicy flavors, like Thai cuisine, mango salad and a wide range of sausages.
- Wheat Beer/Hefeweizen. Light, unfiltered beers with almost no bitterness. Pair well with lighter foods like salads and sushi.
- A hearty beer. Goes well with anything smoked or roasted (think chicken, brisket, bacon). If you’re having dessert, try anything chocolate-flavored.
- A dark, bitter beer with strong notes of chocolate and coffee. Pairs well with rich, savory foods like beef stew. There are a few coffee-like varieties of stout that go great with ice cream.
- Barley Wine. A truly unique beer with a high alcohol-by-volume ratio and low carbonation. And while this dark, hoppy beer will overpower most complex dishes, it makes an excellent counterpart to strong cheeses and almost any chocolatey dessert.