Most people are cognizant of the fact that certain kinds of wine pair perfectly with specific types of cuisine.
Pinot noir goes great with Thanksgiving dinner, Chianti is a wonderful accompaniment to spaghetti, and champagne with strawberries is a match made in heaven. What most people do not seem to realize, though, is that different styles of beer also pair well with certain types of food.
Just as with wine, a good rule of thumb to follow is to pair lighter food with the lighter-colored and lighter-flavored beers, whereas stronger and darker beers go well with heavier foods. This makes it pretty easy to sort things out when you first start to put some thought into what brew you should be serving.
Another easy way to pair things is to use a little common sense: if you are eating Mexican food, it stands to reason that Mexican-made beer would go well with it. The same goes with traditional English pub food pairing nicely with traditional English ales.
To give you a better idea of how to pair beer with food, the following are some of the most common pairings you’ll find:
English pale ale with burgers and other pub foods.
Pilsner with chicken and other light fare like salads.
Most other lagers are normally paired with seafood, chicken, Asian food, or spicy food.
For me, the lighter, more refreshing lagers go better with spicy food than ales do.
I also want to throw out there that you can have a beer and cheese tasting just as easily as a wine and cheese tasting. My favorite stout goes wonderfully with Irish cheeses like a Dubliner cheddar. Nutty brown ale and aged Gouda is another great match.
IPA pairs up nicely with milder blue cheeses like gorgonzola. English pale ale and English cheddar is a great combination. Lighter beers, like most lagers, go very well with lighter cheese like mild white cheddars, Swiss, and Havarti.
With all of that being said, today I want to share a few recipes with you for some great pairings that I’ve come up with. These are some really great dishes that go particularly well with the beers I’ve suggested. I hope you’ll give some of these a try!
Recipes and Pairings
Cast Iron Skillet Steak
Goes well with Guinness or Belhaven Scottish Stout.
The first recipe I’ve included here is for a fantastic steak, to go with my favorite stout. Stouts go great with any type of “meat and potatoes” meal. Seared to perfection to gain that lovely crust, these gorgeous steaks are finished off in the oven.
2New York strip steakslarge & thick (1 1/2”) at room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
Make the butter. Add the chopped fresh herbs and olive oil to the bowl of a food processor and process until the herbs are just tiny pieces. Then, add the cubed butter and process until everything is well combined.
Remove the butter mixture to a sheet of parchment paper and shape into a log. Roll up the log in the parchment paper and twist the ends to seal. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Allow steaks to come to room temperature for 15-20 minutes prior to cooking. Pat down with paper towels to help remove excess moister (helps get that good crust when searing). Season well with salt and pepper on both sides.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Place a cast iron skillet over high heat and allow the pan to heat up for at least 5-10 minutes before you begin cooking. Make sure you have your oven hood turned on; this will get smoky!
Place the steaks in the skillet, and don’t touch them for at least 3 minutes. Once they’ve seared on the first side, flip them over and let them sear for another 3 minutes. Then, use your tongs to hold the each steak on every side for a few seconds to brown each side a little.
Lay both steaks flat again and remove the pan from the heat. Take the compound butter out of the fridge and slice off 2 ½” rounds, placing one on the middle of each steak.
Put the skillet into the oven and let the steaks finish for cooking, about 15 minutes for a medium steak, 20 for medium well. You can use an instant read thermometer to help you determine doneness. Remove the steaks at 130 for medium rare, 135 degrees for medium, and 145 for medium well.
Slow Cooker Pork Roast with Sweet Potatoes
Goes well with Newcastle or other brown ale.
Pork is probably the second-most cooked meat in our house, right behind chicken. It’s just as versatile, going with just about any flavor combination, and being something of a blank canvas that you can dress up as you please.
2poundssweet potatoessliced into moderately sized strips
1poundcarrotsbaby or sliced in quarters
1sprigfresh rosemaryfinely chopped
2-3sprigsfresh thymefinely chopped
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with the vegetable oil for about 5 minutes to get it nice and hot. Brown the pork roast for 2-3 minutes on all sides.
Place the onion rings in an even layer on the bottom of the slow cooker and put the pork roast on top of them.
Cover the roast all over with the 1 teaspoon of salt and pepper. Pour over the chicken stock, and then layer in the whole garlic cloves, sweet potatoes, and carrots.
Cook on low heat for 7-8 hours, until the pork and vegetables are nice and tender. Add the remainder of the herbs and spices over the top of the roast about 30 – 45 minutes before removing from heat.*
* As herbs as spices cook, their aromatic elements are leached out and disperse into the liquid and finally into the air. Other aromatics break down into other elements that don't add much flavor. After 7 or 8 hours of cooking, all of that goodness is either broken down or otherwise dispersed. Try adding your seasonings during the last 30 or 45 minutes when slow cooking with either a crock-pot or a braising pan.
Garlic and Herb Chicken Breast
Goes well with Pilsener Urquell, Beck’s, Stella Artois, or Heineken
If you’re thinking chicken, think lager. Pretty much any chicken recipe you can dream up will pair perfectly with a light and refreshing lager. This currently my favorite way to serve chicken.
The herbs and lemon juice in the marinade really jazz up the flavor, making it guest-worthy without requiring any extra effort.
I like to serve this with pan-fried asparagus, pan-roasted portobello mushrooms, and garlic (as pictured), roasted potatoes, or a creamy cauliflower puree.
At home, my kids ask for quesadillas at least every other day, and these tacos are another way I like to bring Mexican food to our dinner table at home. Pair them with your favorite Mexican lager, and you’ve got yourself a winner.
Traditional Fish and Chips
Serve with Fuller’s London Pride, Boddington’s Pub Ale, or Sam Adam’s Boston Lager
One day I will live in London. It has been a dream of mine for years and years, and it WILL come true one day. Until then though, I can bring London to me with this pub classic, served alongside a pint of a traditional pub brew like the ones listed above.
I’m not a huge fish fan, but I do love a good beer-battered fish filet (as long as it’s a light fish like tilapia, that doesn’t have a strong fishy taste). I also love tartar sauce, which is the perfect condiment on this yummy plate.
Serve this with some warm “chips” (fries here in the U.S.) sprinkled with a little malt vinegar and kosher salt, and you’ve got yourself one fantastic British pub meal.
Ashley has enjoyed creative writing since she was six years old, when she wrote her first short story. She majored in English literature at the University of Montevallo. After years of professional work, she is now a stay-at-home mom of three, who uses her craft to write about her life and adventures in and out of the kitchen.