By far the best book I have ever read on the pairing of beer with food has to be “The Brewmaster’s Table” by Garrett Oliver. On this post I am just going to list some of the most common food and beer pairings he has in his book. This is by by no means the whole list and I strongly recommend getting the book to fully understand the reasons why a particular beer pairs well with a specific food type. Without that knowledge this list is nothing more than a meaningless guide and you have no reasoning behind why these are good pairings. Also, as he states in the book, this is not the definitive list on what to pair together, it really all just boils down to personal preference and taste. A basic guideline is to try to find a beer that compliments, not contrasts the food you want to pair it with. You will get the idea as you see the examples. Also with strong or spicy foods you are looking for high carbonation to cut through the strong flavor. Another great book that goes over this topic is Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher. Although not in as much depth’s as Oliver’s book, it’s still a good reference.
(Note: I now have a downloadable PDF file with pairing suggestions by beer style in this blog post here)
Apple Pie- Imperial Stout, Strong Baltic Porter, Cream Stout.
Avocado (as salad or Guacamole) – American Pale Ale and IPA
Bacon with eggs – Bavarian Weissbier or Belgian Witbier.
Bacon with other savory dishes – Belgian Dubbels, German Rauchbiers and Doppelbocks.
Bass - Weissbier, Witbier, North German Pilsner
Beef (roast) – British Bitter and Pale Ale, German Altbier
Beef (Braised, short ribs, cheeks) Belgian Dubbel and strong dark Trappist and Abbey ales.
Bouillabaisse – Tripel, biere de garde, Belgian strong golden ale.
Brownies - Imperial stout, Baltic strong porter.
Burgers - American Brown ales, Pale ale and IPA, Schwarzbier, Altbier, American Amber Ale.
Burritos - American Pale and Brown Ales, Altbier, Smoked beers
Cajun - American Pale and Brown Ale, Schwarzbier, Dunkel, Saison
Calamari (fried) – Pilsner, helles, Kolsch, American Amber Lager, American Pale ale, Saison.
Liver – Strong Dark Trappist and Abbey ale.
Caribbean - Pilsner, American Pale Ale, Saison, Irish or Foreign-style Stout.
Cheese – See segment below.
Cheesecake – Sweet Fruit beer, Baltic strong porter, Imperial Stout, American Stout *I have to say that my Farmhouse 1871 goes AWESOME with Turtle Cheesecake.*
Chicken (Roasted) – Biere De Garde, Dunkel, Bock, British Bitter and Pale Ale, British Brown ale, Oktoberfest Marzen, Dubbel, American Amber, Belgian Pale ale
Chicken (Fried) – American Amber Lager, American Brown Ale, Altbier
Chicken (Barbecued) – American Amber and Brown Ale, American Amber Lager, Porter, Smoked Beer
Tandoori - American pale Ale, Saison, Belgian Strong Golden Ale
Chili - American Pale ale, Brown ale, and IPA, Irish Stout, Smoked Beer
Chinese – Weissbier, Weissbock, Smoked beer, dunkel, Belgian strong golden ale
Chocolate – Sweeter fruit beers, Imperial Stout, Stronger American Stout, Baltic strong porter
Chowder – Weissbier, Witbier, Helles, Kolsch, Pilsner.
Clams – Pilsner, Belgian strong golden ale, Helles, Kolsch.
Crab – Witbier, weissbier, helles, American pale ale, Belgian strong golden ale.
Eggs – Weissbier, witbier, American Wheat beer, helles, Kolsch
Goose -Dubble, Strong Trappist or Abbey ale, Doppelbock, weissbock, strong Baltic Porter.
Gumbo – American Pale ale, Brown ale, and IPA, American Amber lager, Dortmunder, weissbock.
Ham (Baked) – Irish Stout, Pilsner, Dortmucnder, Hellesbock, Oktoberfest marzen, Tripel, Belgian strong ale, English Brown.
Ham(Aged) (Prosciutto, Serrano, Bayonne) Irish Stout, Schwarzbier, Porter, Hellesbock, Doppelbock, Dortmunder, Weissbock.
Ice Cream – Imperial Stout, American Stout, Cream Stout, Strong Baltic porter, Sweet Fruit Beers.
Indian (spicy) – Saison, Pilsner, Dortmunder, Hellesbock, American IPA
Jambalaya – American Pale Ale and IPA, AMerican Amber Lager, Saison, Pilsner, Irish Stout, Schwarzbier.
Lamb (roasted) – Bubbels, Scotch ales, Strong dark Trappist or Abbey ales, old ale, bier de garde.
Lamb (Grilled) British and American Brown ales, American Amber Lager, Schwarzbier, Irish Stout.
Lasagna – American Amber Lager, Belgian Pale ale.
Lobster – Weissbier, witbier, pilsner, helles, Irish Stout.
Real Macaroni and cheese – British bitter and pale ale, dunkel, altbier, oktoberfest marzen.
Meatloaf – British Bitter, Brown Ale and Pale ale, porter, dunkel. oktoberfest marzen; altbier
Ostrich - Biere de garde, tripel, Dortmunder, hellesbock.
Oysters – Irish stout, pilsner, helles, Kolsch, gueuze, Flanders red ale
Pecan Pie – Imperial Stout, American Stout, Cream Stout, strong Baltic porter.
Pizza – American Amber Lager, American Pale and amber ale, Oktoberfest marzen.
Salads- Weissbier, witbier, American Wheat Beer, Kolsch or with Blue Cheese have Dopplebock.
Salmon – weissbier, witbier, american wheat beer, saison, pilsner, American IPA.
Smoked Salmon – Pilsner, Dortmunder, Saison, Weissbier, Witbier, smoked beer, gueuze.
Steak – American Amber lager, American brown ale, altbier, porter, and dubbel.
Thai food- Weissbier, Saison, American pale and and IPA, American amber lager, altbier.
Trout – Weissbier, weissbock, or smoked beer if fish is smoked.
Veal – Dunkel, hellesbock, Belgian strong golden ale, weissbock, saison.
Venison – Doppelbock, dunkel, old ale, British and American brown ale and porter, strong dark Trappist and Abbey ale, strong Scotch ale, smoked beer.
The word on Cheese and Beer.
I am not going to go into a lot of depth at all on this, but this topic cannot be covered on only a few styles. Besides if you are that interested in knowing, your best bet is to buck up and buy the book, or another book on this topic.
Most people think of wine going with cheese but according to the Brewmaster’s Table, cheese and wine are not a good pairing, except in rare cases. The reason that some people pair wine with cheese is because that is what they think they are supposed to do, but in reality cheese coats the palate and blunts the flavor the wine. This makes harsher wines taste OK, and that is fine for mediocre or cheap wine. But if you are spending a lot of money on a wine or want to experience the actual flavor of the wine cheese is not a good pairing for the wine. Beer on the other hand is a lot better pairing. Part of what helps beer stand up to cheese is the carbonation, even if it is a lightly carbonated beer. The carbonation helps scrub the palate and clear the way for more cheese. There are so many combinations and possibilities with this category that it is really up to you. I will list a few of the suggestions from the book to help you out.
Serious complex cheeses like Aged Cheddars and the like cheeses. You want to find a beer that has a sharp bitterness to work with the cheeses sharpness, some nice fruit character and biscuity malt to match the nuttiness. IPA fits perfectly. Also consider Saison with an Aged Gouda.
With milder cheeses like a Swiss, you may want to consider a Dopplebock. The silky, toffee and sweet matches the Swiss very well.
Also the author strongly suggests that with the very stinky cheeses (some of my personal faves)a Biere De Garde will pair up flawlessly. Another good choice would be a barleywine. And speaking of Barleywine, I just want to toss out there a suggestion he highly recommends. Try Barleywine and Stilton cheese. I have never heard of Stilton cheese, but if you have you may want to give it a try.
I just want to add that one of my favorite pairing with cheese is framboise with Gorgonzola. It is very good together. The tart sweetness of the raspberry melds very well with buttery and salty bite of that cheese.