We know what you’re thinking. Beer doesn’t need all the fancy accouterments that cocktails do. It is perfect all on its own. But what if you could make it…more perfect?
When used right, a garnish can complement, enhance or mirror the natural flavors in beer to unlock new levels of flavor. Here are some of our favorites.
1. Citrus Fruits
These are your lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges. They pair best with mild-tasting beers. Lemon and grapefruit are a good fit for radlers, while limes are perfect for Mexican lagers. And the most famous fruit pairing of all – orange slices with Belgian wheat beers.
The best part about citrus fruits is they can be cut into fun shapes! For citrus wedges, cut the ends off your fruit, and then cut it in half, from end to end. Turn the halves cut-side down, using your knife make two or three cuts through each citrus half. Take your knife and trim away the pith, and then use the blade to sweep or pick any seeds away. The last step is to cut a slit into the fruit so it can perch on the lip of a glass.
To make a citrus twist, cut a slice from your lemon, lime or orange. It should be about 1/4 inch thick, from the thickest part of the citrus. Make a slice through one side of the peel and the pulp. Use a paring knife to carefully slice around the fruit to separate the peel from the round of citrus. Leave a little pith intact for the curl to hold its shape. Twist the peel into a curly-q shape with your hands.
2. Fresh or Frozen Berries
Berries can add an extra bit of sweetness to fruit beers and juicy seltzers. They are extremely easy to integrate too. Simply toss a small handful in and watch them float throughout your beer. For a more elevated presentation, you can skewer a few of them and rest it over the top of your beer glass.
3. Preserved Fruit
Maraschino cherries and dried fruits add subtle sweetness to your brew. The best part? You can enjoy a plump, beer-soaked fruit snack at the bottom of the glass. These pair excellently with chocolate stouts or can boost fruity beers and seltzers with cherry or berry flavors. You can either create a skewer or drop them directly into your glass.
4. Fresh Veggies
Cucumbers and carrot ribbons can bring a welcomed vegetal crunch to a beer. You’ll want crisp and clean beers that won’t overwhelm these types of garnishes. Think pilsners, pale lagers, cream ales, pale wheat beers, blonde ales and Belgian wheat beers.
To make a cucumber or carrot ribbon, use a peeler to peel lengthwise into wide ribbons.
5. Pickled Veggies
These are your cocktail onions, French cornichons, Italian giardiniera and pickled green beans. They can all be skewered and perched on top of your glass. The vinegar and salt will nicely complement the flavors in bold IPAs. For pickled veggies, it’s recommended you create a combo skewer with your favorites.
It’s salty and smoky and will complement crisp, hoppy and bitter beers like IPAs. To make a bacon twist, hold opposite ends of each raw strip and twist tightly. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven for 40 minutes, turning once, until crisp. Lay across the rim of the glass.
We aren’t suggesting you drop cubes of cheese directly into your beer, but instead enjoy them in quick succession with one another. Make a caprese skewer to lay atop a nice mild pilsner. Or maybe pop a goat cheese-stuffed olive alongside a strong dark stout. You can even design a rind cheese skewer with Edam, young Gouda and Havarti for a light lager.
A sprig of this or a pinch of that can bring a fresh kick to beer. As we previously mentioned, a caprese skewer with basil pairs well with a pilsner, while you can make a beer mojito by muddling fresh mint, sugar and lime juice in the bottom of a glass and topping it with an IPA. Dill and cilantro also pair well with hoppy beers.
The perfect finisher to a sip of beer! They can be sweet or savory. A sweet rimmer, such as cinnamon sugar or brown sugar–pumpkin spice, can go with a toasty stout, honey brown lager, or spiced or pumpkin ale. A cocoa powder rimmer can bring out the chocolaty, roasty flavors of both stouts and porters. Don’t be afraid to add grated dark chocolate on top either!
More than anything, have fun and experiment with different garnishes and combinations to elevate your next beer drinking experience.