Summer is here and fun get-togethers with friends and family are on almost everyone’s agenda. From casual visits to all-out organized parties, beer and food go great together and can be enjoyed in so many ways. But with so many delicious beers, both craft/micro-brewed and mass produced to choose from, we thought it would be helpful to offer some good general rules of thumb for pairing the right beer with what you’re serving.
Please keep in mind that these are only suggestions and that individual tastes are highly subjective and open to interpretation. The important thing is that you gain a little useful knowledge and appreciation for tasty beer pairings, have a good time and not over-do it!
In very general terms, when it comes to beer types the two dominant varieties are lager and ale. Ales tend to be fruity and robust while lagers tend to be more crisp and relatively lighter. These are also body types to keep in mind, primarily light, medium and heavy.
Here are some examples:
Light Body Beers: Lager, Pilsner, Wheat
Medium Body Beers: Ale, IPA, Bock
Heavy Body Beers: Stout, Porter, Barleywine
Many people simply choose to serve lighter beer types with light dishes (seafood, light apps, etc.) and heavy beers with heavier dishes (steaks, heavy cream sauces, etc.) But thought should also be given to the flavors of the food being served. A spicy pale ale really goes well with a spicy dish to help create a desired theme or cultural experience. On the other hand, choosing a contrasting beer can also be pleasing as a way to cleanse the palate and really allow the beer to stand on its own.
We love pairing an IPA (whatever you prefer locally will work great) with these Roadhouse Beef Fajitas – the grilled steak, peppers and onions make for a delicious summer meal.
Or, try these Grilled Tuna Steaks with Red Peppers. We recommend a pale ale with a fish like tuna or salmon to cut down the oil.
Most beer experts agree that if you’re pairing a whole meal with different beers, course by course, make sure to start with a light beer and work your way toward darker/heavier beers. If you don’t, some of the subtler tastes and nuances of the lighter beers may be overlooked or unnoticed.
What kind of beers do you like to serve at your summer get-togethers?