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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Wheat Beer/Hefeweizen. Light, unfiltered beers with almost no bitterness. Pair well with lighter foods like salads and sushi.
  8. A hearty beer. Goes well with anything smoked or roasted (think chicken, brisket, bacon). If you’re having dessert, try anything chocolate-flavored.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.