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Beer can be paired with any food! It's all about creativity and following some basic guidelines. There's no single right answer to matching beer with food. Pairing by style involves aligning the flavors and characteristics of the beer with those of the dish. For example, a malty and hoppy India pale ale (IPA) can complement spicy food, while a crisp pilsner or saison pairs well with seafood. Beer and food are both fun and creative! Experiment to find what works for you, and keep these guidelines in mind:


Simple guidelines:

  • Match the food's aroma with the beer's aroma.
  • Match the food's richness with the beer's alcohol and aroma.
  • Opposite tastes can complement each other: sweet vs. salty, malty vs. salty, sweet vs. sour, acidity vs. sweet.
  • Harmonious flavors: sour with sour, acidity with acidity, sweet with sweet.
  • Light beers with light food, and dark and heavy beers with dark and heavy food.


The king of beer and food pairing is doppelbock! It complements most foods up to veal. One of my favorite pairings is tartare with doppelbock, but altbier and brown ale also work well!


What beer can do that wine can't:

- Alcohol cleanses the palate, removing the filminess from fat.

- Hops cut through strong flavors and grease.

- Carbon dioxide refreshes the palate, clearing the taste buds and resetting taste memory.

- Flavor and aroma enhance the experience, making it a case of 1+1=3.


Pairing beer and food based on aroma and strength:

- Light foods like lunch, salad, chicken, and light fish: Light beers such as pilsner, lager, witbier, weissbier, gose, ale, pale ale, NEIPA.

- Medium foods like pork, light veal, aromatic fish, warm lunch: Medium beers like hoppy lager, dark lager, session IPA, red ale, bock, APA, brown ale, IPA, dubbel, saison.

- Rich foods like red meat, fatty sauces, stews: Strong beers such as doppelbock, stout, porter, strong IPA (double), strong brown ale, dark Belgian beer, tripel, quadrupel.

- Spicy food like Mexican, Thai, and sushi: Light beers like lager, Mexican lager, witbier, berliner weisse, gose, golden ale, pale ale, Japanese lager, low-hoppy beers.

- Fast food like burgers, pizza, fried food: IPA, hoppy lager, West Coast IPA. Fried food loves bubbles and hops!

- Fish: Try Duvel for fatty fish or altbier for lean fish. Be cautious with hops as they can turn bitter and metallic. Match the fish's aroma with the beer. Wheat beer, saison.

- Shellfish: Wheat beer, saison.

- Smoked fish: Scotch ale or bock, while cold-smoked fish pairs better with something zippy. My favorite is a Belgian saison or a hefeweizen.

- Oysters and clams: Porter! Saison.


Pairing beer based on style:

- Light lagers: Spicy food, burgers, salads, lunch, fish, sushi.

- Wheat beers: Spicy food and fruity desserts, fish, shellfish.

- India pale ale (IPA): Steak, pizza, burger, fried food, barbecue, Thai and Mexican food.

- Amber ales: Pizza, fried food, smoked pork.

- Dark lagers: Pizza, burgers, heavy stews.

- Brown ales: Sausage, meat.

- Dark heavy ales (Belgian): Dark and heavy food.



Match beer alcohol to the strength of the cheese, like cheddar with Guinness and barley wine with blue cheese.

- Barley wine, imperial porter, and stouts pair well with strong, flavorful cheese and blue cheese.

- Lighter cheese pairs well with porters and stouts.

- Sour goat cheese with IPA.

- Brie with lambic.



Stouts and porters are always reliable choices for dessert, but here are more tips:

- Porter and stouts with chocolate.

- Cream and sour desserts with kriek.

- White chocolate with witbier/berry soured beer.

- Milk chocolate with IPA/weissbier.

- Dark chocolate with stout/porter/kriek.

- Vegan chocolate with lambic.

- Candy with sour beer.


Beer in cooking:

There are two important rules:

- Hoppy beers don't work well in food.

- The stronger the beer's aroma, the more its flavor will be noticeable.


Where to use in cooking:

Hoppy beers rarely work well, but dark beers work great in:

- Sauces.

- Marinades.

- Bread.

- Desserts in general, like chocolate cake with kriek or porter.

- Pancakes with porter or brown ale. Also try barley wines, stouts, and other porters. Get creative here!


These are just guidelines. Try different things to discover your own preferences. Have fun!