Top Tips for Pairing Beer with Food

Are you looking at hosting friends for dinner, or want some tips for pairing beer with food? Here, we will guide you through our recommendations and how beer from Brightside can work with your next meal.

In itself, beer is a relatively simple beverage. Its main ingredients are wheat, barley, hops, and water. Mix that with a bit of yeast, and you have beer (figuratively speaking). But did you know depending on the ratio of ingredients used, and the brewing technique, you can end up with some totally unique beer styles.

If you want to learn more about the process of how we brew beer at Brightside, check out this blog post.

But anyway, let’s look at those styles in more detail and our tips for pairing beer with food.

1. Lagers

A beer style most are familiar with is lager. It’s a highly carbonated style of beer that can be super refreshing, and enjoyable to drink. Lagers tend to have a low malt character, along with being low on hops, bitterness, and have a delicate flavour profile. It makes them ideal to pair with a lot of different foods.

We think the following dishes work well with lagers:

  • Spicy foods – we’re talking things like Indian and Thai curries, with lots of aromatic and fresh flavours. The lager cuts through these dishes and compliments them. Personally, if I’m eating spicy foods, I would enjoy drinking a Brightside Helles alongside the dish.
  • Seafood – When it comes to seafood such as shrimp, prawns, or fresh fish, a crisp lager will pair great with this. The freshness of seafood and the crispness of lager help complement things and keep the food balanced and refreshing.
  • Cheese dishes – The carbonation of lager can cut through dishes that are heavy on dairy. If you’re eating something such as a fondue, cheese & crackers, or pasta, a lager can compliment these dishes.
  • Chicken– By itself, chicken can be lighter on flavour, especially when it’s put through something like a chicken salad, where the dish isn’t overpowered by a sauce. Because of the nuanced flavours of this style of beer, they work well alongside chicken dishes.
Pairing beer with spicy food

Looking for a lager to pair with your food? Check out these, here:

2. IPAs

When chilled, there’s nothing better than a zesty, citrusy IPA to cut through the heaviness of a dish. Like lagers, IPAs can be highly refreshing and when paired with food, it can really elevate the eating experience. This style of beer typically makes use of more hops, is more bitter, has a bigger malt profile, and a fuller flavour.

Because of the hop profile of an IPA, they usually have a higher level of acidity, so they can compliment dishes that have a greater fat content or make use of bolder flavours. Have a look at some of the dishes we’d recommend enjoying an IPA with.

  • Asian fusion cooking – Think lemongrass, chillis, and coriander. Mostly associated with the freshness of Asian cooking, a lighter-bodied session IPA that makes use of Citra, Amarillo or Summit hops would really compliment this style of dish.
  • Italian food – When eating Italian, these dishes can typically be heavy on fresh garlic, cream, and dairy. When served with a fridge-cold IPA, they can cut through the heaviness of Italian food and help balance the flavours.
  • Burgers & meat – Burgers and IPAs go hand in hand. It’s why so many burger joints have some form of IPA to drink alongside the food. The fattiness of the burger is cut through with thanks to the fresh hop acidity of an IPA. Something like a West Coast IPA would make a solid pairing with any burger.
Beer and food parings with burgers

3. Stouts & Mild Beers

With stout and mild’s, you get a deep and complex flavour from these beer styles. We often associate a stout with notes of coffee, chocolate, and roasted barley, and mild’s with caramel, liquorice, and light fruit flavours like raisin or plum.

Dark beers can easily overpower a dish if you’re not careful, but we think stouts & mild beers pair best with:

  • Shellfish – Fresh oysters are a popular choice to pair with stouts and mild beers. The saltiness of the oyster balances with the light sweetness from the malt in a darker beer. One of my favourite spots to go drinking in Manchester is Sinclair’s Oyster Bar. It’s a piece history within the city, and was known for having oysters on the menu to serve alongside the ale back in the 1800’s. If you’re ever in the city, I’d highly recommend a visit.
  • Game meat – The richness of game meat can pair well with darker beers. A stout erring on the sweeter side can balance the meatiness of a game dish and compliment it so well.
  • Dark beefy stews – With this one, think braised venison, ox cheeks, etc. These dishes can be heavily savoury, so the delicate sweetness of a stout will bring out those delicious, slow cooked flavours. Even better, why not try putting some of the stout in your stew?
Beer and food pairing with beef stew

Explore our dark beers below:

3. Blonde Beers

When it comes to blondes, there’s an entire spectrum – On the lower end, you’ve got your light blonde ale, such as our very own Odin. Our blonde is light in body, colour, and has a low ABV (3.8%). On the other hand, you’ve got Belgium blondes, such as Leffe. Belgium blondes are usually higher in strength, have a bigger malt profile, and has more body to it. When it comes to pairing blondes with food, think tangy acidity of a chutney, or the bold taste of grilled meat.

See what other dishes we think blonde beers go hand in hand with:

  • Tomato based dishes – From bolognaise to moussaka, we’re talking heavy on the tomato to pair with the lightness of a blonde beer. We think the acidity within the tomato balances well with the light body of a blonde beer.
  • White fish – Fish dishes, especially those like cod, haddock or hake, pair well with a blonde ale. Fish can be quite delicate, so you want to enjoy it with a drink that’s not too heavy that it takes away from the dish. Serve this with a bit of fresh lemon and coriander… Yum yum! 
  • German bratwurst – Heavy on the meat, a German-style bratwurst is washed down amazingly well with a blonde beer. The beer doesn’t distract from the flavours of the food, instead it mellows everything out and pairs fantastically with this dish.
Pairing beer with white fish

See our blonde beers below:

That’s everything from us with this on but what are your favourite dishes to pair with your choice of beer? Share your ideas with us on social media!


Beer and food pairing with beef stew