Fruity and a bit sweet, a frosty glass of beer is perfect for cooling off on hot summer evenings. Though the term used to refer to suds made without hops, today it means any type of beer made using warm fermentation. The result is a hoppy, refreshing, full-bodied brew ranging from brown and nutty, and pale and golden, to India Pale Ale, with notes of apple or cherry or pineapple.
When matching ale to food, the general rule of thumb is to harmonize the food type with one of six beer flavor categories, according to the pros at CraftBeer.com:
- Crisp & Clean
- Malty & Sweet
- Dark & Roasty
- Hoppy & Bitter
- Fruity & Spicy & Sour
- Tart & Funky
For example, shellfish (say, mussels with Little Potatoes in an aromatic broth or Summerside Lobster & Fingerling Potato Salad) goes well with a Fruity & Spicy Belgian or German Hefeweizen. Here’s how to pair the best seasonal dishes with the right ale for winning combinations. Cheers!
It goes without saying that beer and British pubs go together like steak and potatoes—and beer and chips, of course. Serve crispy Salt & Vinegar Potato Wedges using our bold Little Trios in a paper cone old-style with a glass of English brown porter. For anything cooked in olive oil or butter, or fried, you need a Hoppy & Bitter or Dark & roasty beer to balance strong flavors.
Traditional Steak and Potatoes in 20 minutes requires something Sour or Tart & Funky. Rich meats and roasted root vegetables will do well with Belgian-style Flanders. Here’s why: “Combining these flavors brings out umami and adds earthy notes that rest on the center of the palate,” say the craft beer pros.
Cooking chicken or a game bird, like a duck? You want Hoppy & Bitter. Something like an American Pale Ale will complement roasted Sheet Pan Lemon Rosemary Chicken. Another good choice is American brown ale.
Beans and legumes
A creamy-crunchy Greek Lentil and Potato Salad pair handsomely with a German Hefeweizen or English brown ale. For recipes with beans and lentils or legumes of any kind—favas, chickpeas, green beans—you need a Malty & Sweet ale to lend richness and smooth out the salt-acidity yin-yang balance.
Grilled veggies—say carrots, Little Potatoes, mushrooms, peppers, onions—pair deliciously with Dark & roast brews. Try Grill Roasted Potatoes in Foil, along with any other of your favorite vegetables, for a super fast dinner on the BBQ with an Irish dry stout or dark lager like German Schwarzbier (not ales, per se, but that’s OK).
Pork and Sausages
With a nice, velvety tenderloin or smoky pork sausages you want a strong beer—Hoppy & Bitter or Fruity & Sweet—to stand up to the forceful flavors. Match an Imperial India Pale Ale with Grilled Sausage, Potato and Mixed Green Salad (using pork or chicken links) for a savory dinner-in-one.