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How to Perfectly Pair Your Food and Beer

While we would argue that every dish is better alongside a cold beer, there are basic pairing principles that can help both elements taste even better.

You can pair according to:

Complementary Flavors

Try food and beer with similar flavor profiles. Light beers (think lagers) pair well with light foods with delicate flavors, such as salad or fish. Heavy beers (think stouts) pair well with food that can match its bold flavors. This can be anything from barbeque to chocolate truffles.

Contrasting Flavors

An opposite approach is bringing together flavors that contrast one another. A wheat beer with spicy Thai food, for example. This is sometimes the only way to sneak in a more bitter or tart beer with dinner too.

Palate Cleansers

You can also use beer or food as a palate cleanser. Consider it a dining reset. Greasy french fries can cut through the bitterness of an IPA, while a pilsner or kolsch can cool your mouth after a plate of hot chicken wings.

Now a lot of this comes down to flavor. Beer flavor profiles can help you complement, contrast or cleanse based on the ingredients in your dish.

Here are the main beer flavor profiles as well as recommended Druthers food menu pairings:

Crisp and Clean: Pilsners and Lagers

These light and refreshing beers have a low to medium alcohol by volume (ABV). They are light in color. Crisp and clean beers often pair well with spicy foods, burgers, salads and seafood.

A Druthers Duo: Druthers Smash Burger or Soy Ginger Salmon with Golden Rule Pilsner

Hoppy and Bitter: IPAs and American Pale Ales

Beer gets its bitterness from hops. American pale ales and IPAs are often heavy on the hops. These brews have a yellow to brown color with varied ABV range. They pair well with fried food, aged or hard cheeses and creamy dishes like fettuccine alfredo.

A Druthers Duo: Druthers Mac with Pineapple Pale Ale

Malty and Sweet: Amber Ales

Light to full bodied beers with a wide ABV range. They often have toasty notes with caramel, toffee and nuts. These flavors pair well with hearty meats – like pork and steak.

A Druthers Duo: Thick-Cut Meatloaf with Scottish-Style 80 Shilling Ale

Dark and Roasty: Porters and Stouts

These are black or deep brown in color with a wide ABV range. They are typically medium-light to full bodied with notes of chocolate and cocoa. They pair well with grilled meats and chocolate peanut butter combinations.

A Druthers Duo: Reese’s Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie with Fist of Karma

Fruity and Spicy: Hefeweizen and Witbier

Low in bitterness with a wide range of ABV, these beers are exactly what they say: fruity and spicy. They pair well with shellfish, smoked pork and apple strudel (of course!).

A Druthers Duo: BBQ Pork Sandwich with Against the Grain Hefeweizen

Tart and Funky: Gose

Tart and funky beers can be acidic, sour, fruity and even winey. They are light to medium-bodied with a wide range of ABV. With high acidity and earthiness, these beers pair well with earthy cheeses (goat), grilled game or fruit-filled pastries.

A Druthers Duo: Goat Cheese Pizza with Passionfruit Double Dare

The most important consideration is that you eat and drink things you like – these are only suggestions! If you find yourself enjoying our Loaded Monkey Bread with an Oatmeal Stout, we won’t stand in your way. It’s all about your personal tastes and what works for your palate.