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For years, if you asked a restaurant server in any mid-range to upscale American eatery what drink to pair with a certain dish, they would suggest a specific wine varietal. But in the last five years, there’s been a shift: Beer has made it onto the menu. Beverage directors, chefs, and even wine lovers have learned that beer has an amazing capacity to pair with all kinds of foods.Nowadays, asking for a beer no longer means you’re simply afraid of wine or have poor taste.

Beer may actually be more food-friendly than wine is. There is certainly more room for flavor variety. Winemakers, after all, have one ingredient to play with: grapes. Brewers, on the other hand, can experiment with barley, hops, yeast, as well as spices, nuts, chocolate, fruits, and vegetables.

 

Here are some common beers and their ideal matches:

  • ALE:

    Pair with: Burgers; buffalo wings; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food; nutty food; fried food; pizza; steaks; Cheddar, Parmesan, or Romano cheeses.

  • BOCK BEER:

    Pair with: Gruyère, Emmental, and Swiss cheeses; Cajun food; jerk chicken; beef; sausage; seared foods.

  • FRUIT BEER/LAMBIC:

    Pair with: Mascarpone cheese; light white meat; foods driven by herbs and spices; duck and pork dishes with sweet components (avoid very tart lambics); pickled dishes (great with tart lambics); salads with fruity dressings; fruity desserts.

  • LAGER:

    Pair with: Shellfish; light seafood; sushi; grilled pork and chicken; not-too-heavy pasta dishes (without cream or meat sauces); Southeast Asian food; Latin food; Mexican food; spicy food.

  • PILSNER:

    Pair with: American cheese; Muenster, Havarti, and Monterey Jack cheeses; salads; light seafood; salmon; tuna; trout; asparagus; Asian food; Mexican food; spicy food.

  • PORTER:

    Pair with: Smoked foods; barbecue; sausage; rich stews; meats; bacon; chili; braised dishes.

  • STOUT:

    Pair with: Roasted foods; smoked foods; barbecued/grilled foods; salty foods; oysters; rich stews; braised dishes; chocolate; desserts (ideally the beer is sweeter than the dish).

  • WHEAT BEER/ HEFEWEIZEN:

    Pair with: Light soups and salads; vegetarian dishes; sushi; Gruyère cheese and Feta/goat cheese; sweet and fruity Asian dishes; citrus-flavored dishes, including dessert and salad dressings.

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