Beer & Food Pairings

If you talk about "beer and food", most people think of pizza... but there is so much more!

We have gathered some recommendations - all tried and tested - from FTH members. Our favorites are marked with . The results may surprise you!

Appetizer/side pairings

The cheese platter

Using gruyere and an Alabama chevre cheese, the rich malty IPA sweetness and hop bitterness play off the lush richness of the cheeses.

Smoked cheeses are a wonderful complement to some of the lighter beers, such as Lazy Magnolia's Indian Summer, and Rogue's American Amber pairs well with Swiss.

  Strongly-flavored cheeses, particularly interesting varieties such as those with mustard seeds, go wonderfully with Terrapin's Imperial Pilsner. An unusual pairing, this one really took us by surprise.

Fried breaded mushrooms with horseradish dipping sauce & a pumpkin lager

We chose Lakefront's Pumpkin - the flavor complements the earthy taste of the mushrooms, and the sweetness plays off the heat from the horseradish.

Fried okra & IPAs

Hoppy beers just go well with spicy foods. We tried Flying Dog Snake Dog IPA with this one, and found the flavors really blended well.

Hot wings & IPAs (or other hoppy beer)

If you like hot and spicy, hoppy beers go very well with spicy foods: the hops are intensified by the spices, which in turn are intensified by the hops. We've tried this with Sierra Nevada Summerfest - an intensely hoppy ale.

Salad with blue cheese dressing & IBAs

Tested with Terrapin India Brown, the strong taste of the IBA contrasted well with the delicate salad and assertive blue cheese.

Entrée pairings

  Bavarian beef sandwich & brown ales

Brown ales go very well with red meat, and the Tilburg Dutch Brown has a lot of residual sugars to play off the lush richness of the sandwich.

Beef and vegetable stew & stouts/porters

Carb-laden goodness, beef stews are ideal comfort food for the winter, and Red Brick Winter Ale is a good combination. Both warming and filling.

Chilli & stouts

Most people are familiar with adding a splash of red wine to chillis or curries for added flavor. If you want to cook with beer, a stout like Guinness will add additional depth.

Fish and chips & ales

(That's "steak fries" for Americans.) A traditional English pub combo.

Gumbo & dark lagers

The darker lagers add a nice bite to gumbo, whether you drink it as an accompaniment or use a splash for cooking.

Pizza & bitters

Tested was Fuller's ESB (English Style Bitter) with a margarita pizza, though it would probably also work well with four cheeses or tomato-mozarella-pesto. The bitterness of the beer contrasts well against the lushness of the pizza.

Steak and ale pie & brown ales

Tilburg Dutch Brown Ale has been the best so far. If you can make your pie with the same brown ale, it just amplifies the flavor.

Blackened 'gator & amber ales

Although good with any amber, the Cajun-style seasonings are just spicy enough to need some sweetness to offset them and Murphy's Amber has proven ideal.

Dessert pairings

  Cheesecake & porters

Here's a pairing you never thought you'd see. Fuller's London Porter with a New York cheesecake - a rich, lush, sweet cheesecake with a coffee-flavored porter. The porter actually tones down the sweetness, and the two flavors blend together wonderfully. We've never seen such awed silence as when this pairing was tested...

Strawberry cheesecake and summer seasonals

The antithesis of the previous pairing, we tried Blue Moon's Honeymoon, a light summer seasonal sweetened with honey, with strawberry cheesecake. If you're having lunch, this is a great combination: light, refreshing, and slightly sweet, but with none of the heaviness that you welcome in an evening meal.

  Chocolate pecan pie with icecream & stouts

Another odd pairing. Stouts and porters can cut the sweetness of a dessert, so rather than having coffee after your meal, try a half of beer with your dessert.

Regular pecan pie

Rogue's Shakespeare Stout has just enough malt to amplify the sweetness of the pecan pie without taking it over the edge, and the slight bitterness keeps your taste buds on the hop.

Icecream float & stouts

A couple of people have made beer-floats. The most popular combinations so far are Rogue Chocolate Stout or Mocha Porter with vanilla icecream, but you are only limited by your imagination.

For more suggestions, including reviews of pairings that don't go well, check out