When it comes to certain occasions or times of the day, we often reach for wines and spirits to drink, but the incredible variety and diversity of beers means that you can also find a brew that matches equally as well, if not better. So, before you reach for the prosecco to celebrate or a spritz for a summer barbecue, take a look at our round up and get inspired.
Looking for something to sip on a special occasion or as a fizzy aperitif? If you’re craving bubbles and the dry, crisp flavours of sparkling wine then try seeking out a gueuze beer instead. Made in Belgium, a gueuze is a blend of spontaneously fermented lambic beers, and in taste and character often seems more wine-like than beer. With plenty of champagne-like bubbles (like champers it gets a second ferment in the bottle – hence the fizz), tart, fruity notes and perky acidity, it’s deliciously complex.
A seafood lunch
We often think of white wine when it comes to pairing alcohol with seafood but there are several beers that will match beautifully with a fruit de mer feast. For fried and battered seafood like Italian fritto misto, or classic fish and chips, try a crisp pilsner that will cut through the richness of the batter and oil. Wheat beers are also a choice match with seafood – citrussy Belgian witbier is a winner with lighter shellfish such as mussels, and clams, while richer German hefeweizen is delicious paired with opulent lobster.
It’s increasingly common to find super-strength craft beers, some reaching upwards of 10% ABV or more. These have their place, of course, but when it comes to a leisurely outdoor picnic drinking strong beer all afternoon could soon make you worse for the wear. The solution, as breweries have wised up to, is a session beer, a lower-ABV but still great-quality brew that you can drink in quantity and still get home in one piece. Our summer beer round up is a great place to start for inspiration – we love Lowlander’s tropical Summer Ale at 3.8% ABV, or Fourpure’s vibrant, hoppy Lantern Earl Grey Session IPA.
Alcohol-free beers aren’t just for Dry January or for when you’re driving. If you’re planning on having a few drinks one evening, swapping in some non-alcoholic beers will ensure you can pace yourself. And better yet, the stellar quality of alcohol-free beers available means you won’t compromise on flavour. Check out our non-alcoholic beer feature for inspiration – we’ve got everything from pale ales to dark lagers for dry drinkers.
Here at olive, we’re big fans of enjoying a sweet drink in place of dessert – from fragrant dessert wines to a creamy brandy alexander. Beer lovers can join in thanks to the many beers out there that, in flavour and sweetness, resemble some of our favourite puddings and sugary treats. This particularly applies to stouts and porters, a style in which brewers often create beers that use ingredients such as coffee, chocolate, vanilla, baking spice and fruit to make sumptuous confections to sip on – one classic example is Wild Beer Co’s Millionaire, a luscious salted caramel and chocolate milk stout that’s like tasting millionaire’s shortbread in liquid form.
Make the most of your outdoor space with our barbecue ideas. What brew you drink at a barbecue depends on what you’re grilling. Planning on cheeseburgers? Assertively bitter beers such as IPAS make a great foil for the salty umami of the meat and cheese, the sourness of gherkins and the sweet ketchup. Hot dog fans should try a malty German lager– a classic combination – while the complex herbal, spicy and citrus flavours of a saison make it a winner with grilled chicken. Still can't decide? A good-quality lager (such as Birrificio Angelo Poretti 4 Hops) is a great all-round option for most grilled foods. In the mood for a cocktail? Use your lager of choice, tequila and lime juice to make our lagerita.
Though that brunch was the preserve of mimosas? Think again! It’s easy to turn your favourite brews into refreshing, easy-drinking cocktails that will be lower in ABV than wine or spirits, meaning a boozy brunch doesn’t need to wipe you out for the rest of the day. Try our twist on a spritz by spiking a wheat beer with a dash of Aperol and adding ice and a slice of orange. Bloody mary devotees should try combining a light lager with tomato juice, lime, hot sauce, Worcestershire and a chilli-salt rim for a Mexican michelada.
Drinks such as dessert wines and ports are thought of as natural partners when it comes to cheeseboards, but there are many beers that will make your fromage sing. For a freshy, zingy goat’s cheese try a tart lambic, or pair a nutty gouda with caramel-toned amber ale, or rich stilton with an equally full-throttle beer such as barley wine.