Beer Pairing: From Hefeweizens to Porters

beer pairingMany of us with a taste for beer enjoy a night out at the pub, drinking an IPA, and munching on a handful of onion rings. What, doesn’t all pub food pair well with all beers? While beer pairing is certainly up to everyone’s particular tastes – some of us may want a PBR with fries while others will pair an Orval with a nice steak dinner – there are certain foods that pair especially well with certain beers. Whether you prefer a hefeweizen or a double IPA, whether you’re a meat eater or a vegetarian, and whether you want an all-out meal or a simple snack, there’s a perfect pair just waiting for you out there.

When we traditionally think of food and beverage pairings, thoughts of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs fill our minds. For so long, wine was the drink of choice when trying to pair a beverage up with any sort of meal or dessert. Nowadays, beer is becoming more and more of an acceptable choice – regardless of how casual or professional the meal is.

Looking to brew your own? Learn the old-school, classic way of brewing.

Types of Beers

Did you know that there are actually only two main types of beers: ales and lagers? Without getting too deep into the science behind brewing beer, there are two types of yeasts you can use in the brewing process – ale yeast and lager yeast. Stouts, hefeweizens and pilsners all fit into these two types! To generalize the two, ales generally have a heavier, fruitier taste to them while lagers are crisp and have a more subtle, delicate flavor.

Ales

Hefeweizen: With its fruity aroma and low level of hops, hefeweizens are traditionally served with lighter, vegetarian* fares. Think a picnic in the middle of the summer: a salad filled with fruit and greens and crumbles of goat cheese. A sprinkle of herbs to finish it off pairs perfectly with the herb undertones of the hefeweizen. Try this salad the next time you crack open a hefeweizen and enjoy the warmer weather!

Spinach, Goat Cheese and Beet Salad

beerpairing1 cup spinach
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
5 slices pickled beets
1 tbsp sliced almonds
1 tbsp dried cranberries
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1/8 tsp thyme
salt and pepper, to taste

Toss all ingredients together and enjoy!

* if you’re not vegetarian and want to add some more protein into this salad, a chunk of grilled salmon sprinkled with lemon juice is a perfect addition to this salad. Serve your hefeweizen with a slice of lemon to compliment it!

Blonde Ale: Blonde ales are the perfect balance between sweet and hoppy with a hint of citrus. The refreshing flavors of blonde ales are especially delightful when paired with Middle Eastern dishes such as falafel. Why not bring this traditional street food into your home by making your own falafel pita?

Falafel Pita Pocket

Note: you can make your own falafel, pita bread and tzatziki sauce from the comfort of your own kitchen, but you can also purchase all of these ingredients separately and simply put them all together to save time.

1 piece pita bread
2 falafels
2 tbsp tzatziki sauce
handful of fresh cilantro, to taste
cucumber slices
tomato slices
lettuce

Slice open the pita horizontally so that it opens up into a “pocket”. Spread tzatziki sauce inside, then insert in falafels, cucumber slices, tomato slices, lettuce and fresh cilantro. Enjoy! All ingredients are open to however much you want to add!

India Pale Ale: Known for its intense hoppiness, IPAs are perfectly paired with spicy Indian dishes. While it may seem like the hops in this beer would amplify the spices (they do for a second, and then they get rid of it), the flavor and aroma of hops pairs perfectly with traditional Indian spices. Crisp and refreshing, IPAs and Indian food are a match made in heaven. Try your favorite IPA with this deliciously simple curried eggplant dish.

beerpairing thai curryCurried Eggplant and Chickpeas

1 medium sized eggplant, peeled and cubed
1 can chickpeas, drained
1/2 can coconut milk
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 tbsp fresh grated ginger
salt and pepper, to taste
brown rice and / or plain yogurt, to serve

In a large, deep pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add in garlic, onion, ginger, salt, pepper, curry powder, garam masala and coconut milk. Cook until onion and garlic are fragrant. Add in eggplant and chickpeas, cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and let simmer for 20 minutes. When eggplant and chickpeas are cooked to your liking, turn off heat and let sit until the curry sauce thickens. Serve over brown rice and top with a dollop of plain yogurt.

Porter: The deep, rich toffee and coffee undertones of porters are perfect paired with smoky meats, especially bacon. At your next family gathering (or guys night in front of the television), cook up some smoked bacon wrapped potatoes and go to town.

Smoked Bacon Wrapped Potatoes

beerpairing bacon1 pound small potatoes
1 pound bacon
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Slice each potato in half. Bring a large pot of water to a boil (enough water to cover potatoes) and let potatoes back for 5-8 minutes, until tender. Drain. In a large mixing bowl, toss potatoes with olive oil, rosemary, salt and pepper. Cut the strips of bacon in half and wrap each half around a potato – securing with a toothpick. Place bacon-wrapped potatoes on a baking sheet, and bake for 40 minutes, flipping halfway. Enjoy!

Lagers

Pilsner: A pronounced hoppy flavor, bitter yet refreshing. Pilsners are perfect when paired with a light, healthy fish, such as salmon. The next time you’re craving a pilsner, why not grill up some delicious, nutritious fish? The flavors of dill and lemon in this dish compliment the crisp flavor of pilsner perfectly.

beerpairing fishGrilled Salmon with Lemon and Dill

6 oz serving of salmon
1/2 lemon, sliced thinly
1 tsp fresh dill, chopped
1 tsp olive oil
2 tsp butter
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your grill to high. Coat salmon with olive oil, salt and pepper. Place on grill, cooking for 3-5 minutes. Flip over, then cook for another 3-5 minutes, depending on how well-done you want your salmon. Mix together butter and dill while salmon is cooking. Once taking the salmon off the grill, brush with the dill butter and squeeze fresh lemon juice on top. Garnish with a sprinkle of fresh dill and a slice of lemon and enjoy.

Bock: Rich, caramel undertones and toasty flavors that remind you of sitting next to a campfire on a brisk fall evening. Bocks are best paired with robust, roasted dishes such as a nice plate full of roasted chicken and potatoes.

beer pairing chickenRoasted Rosemary Chicken and Potatoes

1 medium sized chicken
1 pound potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp dried rosemary
salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Season chicken with salt, pepper, rosemary, garlic, and top with diced onion. Place into oven in a large baking dish and roast for approximately 2 1/2 hours, depending on the size of your chicken. During the last 60 minutes, coat potatoes with olive oil, salt, pepper and rosemary and place into oven to roast with the chicken. Serve and enjoy!

Light Lager: The light, delicate flavor of a light lager is perfect paired with dishes that are equally light, such as a refreshing spring roll.

Vegetable Spring Roll

Spring roll wrappers
Cabbage, sliced thin
Carrots, sliced into matchsticks
Mushrooms, sliced into matchsticks
Shallots, diced
Bean sprouts
Chopped fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper

Allow guests to make their own spring rolls! Lightly wet a spring roll wrapper, and then fill with desired ingredients. Wrap up and enjoy for a fresh spring or summer side dish! These are wonderful eaten on their own or served with a soy sauce or peanut sauce on the side. The ingredients aren’t limited to the ones listed! Chop up all of your favorite vegetables and fresh herbs and you’ll be sure to please everyone. The light lager will be a refreshing addition.

All Taste Buds Are Different

While this list of beer pairings will give you a great idea on where to start, keep in mind that not everyone will like every combination. If you want to pair your hefeweizen with a spicy Indian dish, go right ahead! Though it may not be a traditional choice, everyone has their own personal preferences. This list is meant to be a simple guide that you can work off of to create your own delicious combinations of beer and food. The possibilities are endless!

Are you bored of your beer choices, or have you always felt the desire to create your own flavors? If you’re looking to start brewing your own beer, Udemy has a handful of courses that will help you get started! You can make your own pilsners, hocks, hefeweizens – you imagine it, you name it. Beer is only made from four simple ingredients, but by adding different spices, herbs and fruits, you can create beers that have the perfect undertones to compliment all of your favorite dishes!