In the same way as we do with wine, we can also match different beers with foods, as long as we keep a few principles in mind. Eating something boldly flavoured? Pair it with a beer that has a contrastingly strong flavour, such as a rich, creamy stout with briny oysters. Another good rule of thumb is to pair like with like – so drink light beers with delicate vegetable or salad dishes, or try something like a porter with grilled meats. Alternatively, beers can work well as palate cleansers, so if you’re eating something spicy or deep-fried, then a crisp, clean lager or pilsner will act as a refreshing foil. Lastly, make sure your beer doesn’t overwhelm what you’re eating – for example, pairing a powerful, chocolatey stout with white fish.
When it comes to beer snacks, it pays to think outside the box and olive has plenty of ideas. From vegan pakoras to Italian arancini, here are some of our favourites, and the best beers to pair them with.
Crab arancini – pilsner
Deep-fried balls of creamy crab risotto – what’s not to love? Crisp, bubbly pilsners are a great match for fried snacks, and the clean flavours of the beer won’t overwhelm the delicate white crab meat in this recipe.
Fried chicken is an essential beer snack, right? Contrast the crunchy, fried coating of these succulent chicken wings with the funky-fruity acidity of a traditional Belgian lambic beer such as a gueze.
This speedy recipe (ready in less than 30 minutes) matches crispy tempura batter with a citrussy dipping sauce and makes for a choice vegan beer snack. We don’t want anything too assertive that will bully the delicate flavours in this dish, so opt for an easy-drinking lager.
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Spiced cod fritters with harissa honey dip – English pale ale
Crisp enough to cut through the richness of fried foods makes a pale ale a great choice for these punchy fritters. The gentle hoppiness of an English pale ale will balance spicing in this dish but should still be mild enough in flavour so as not to overwhelm the fish.
Bresaola – bock beer
Making your own charcuterie is the ultimate weekend project and, once you’re done, you’ll need the perfect beer to sip with it. The fruitiness of a full-bodied lager like bock is a great match for the subtle spiciness of bresaola.
Carrot, halloumi and dill balls – Belgian tripel
Here, offset the salty halloumi cheese in these Middle Eastern-inspired bites with the sweetness, fruitiness and spice of a classic Belgian tripel. Just watch how much you pour into the glasses as these beers can be notoriously strong.
Beer batter pakoras – IPA
The charm of this recipe is that the beer can be used both in the recipe and to drink alongside. The bold character of these hoppy beers mean they stand up well to the spicy flavours of Indian food, and in this recipe the highly carbonated nature of an IPA will give the pakora batter that all-important lightness.
Miso chickpeas and avocado on toast – German or Belgian-style wheat beer
There’s always a time for avo toast and this storecupboard twist on a classic brunch dish is both filling and low calorie – win! Wheat beers are very versatile when it comes to pairing with food and here the rich mouthful of the beer matches the creaminess of the avocado. Top tip – try adding a little Aperol for maximum brunch vibes.
Italian flatbread with pear, walnut and gorgonzola – Flanders red ale
Salty gorgonzola is the hero of this molten, cheesy flatbread, but all that richness needs a foil. A high-acidity beer such as a Flanders red ale makes the ideal counterpart. In particular, the lactic sourness of the beer is a great match for the cheese.
Baby new potatoes wrapped in bacon with harissa cheese chip – stout or porter
Spuds, bacon and cheese – match these full-on flavours with an equally full-bodied beer such as a velvety porter or stout.