Having a spread of grilled summer masterpieces? That’s nice. Having a beer to pair with each expertly grilled dish? That’s the mark of a true enthusiast. And yes, we’re true enthusiasts—for both beer and grilled things. While pairing usually insinuates wine, the diverse range of flavors found in beer can take smoky, charred meats and acidic salads filled with peak-season produce to whole new worlds. Plus, beer has that casual summer attitude that avoids any food-pairing pretension. We matched up some of our favorite new summer recipes with common beer styles, so that we can all jump into this pairing thing together.
And here’s where it gets better. To really nail these pairings, we enlisted the help of beer professionals: Averie Swanson is the head brewer at Jester King, a brewery known for their wild and spontaneously-fermented ales in Austin, Texas. Brittanny Anderson is the chef and co-owner of both Metzger and Brenner Pass in Richmond, VA, where she pairs local and European beer with her German and Alpine-influenced food. And Benjamin Pratt is the co-owner of New York City’s As Is (the best beer bar in the city).
A brewer, a chef, and a bar owner. That’s the kind of crew you want suggesting your beers. And we asked them to pair each dish to a style of beer, not a specific beer. This way, you can pick up something from your local brewery that fits the style, instead of searching for a beer you might not be able to find. Let’s get started.
“The tart acidity from a gose, as well as the slight saltiness, will cut through the heat and sweetness of the hot honey and enhance the natural sweetness of corn. The combination of sweet, spicy and tart is making my mouth water thinking about this pairing.” — Benjamin Pratt
“Like everyone else in the world, I love fried stuff. At Metzger we make a lot of schnitzel and I always pair it with a super crisp German Pilsner. The crisp bitterness of the pilsner really bites through the crunchy fried fish and creamy, tangy sauce. It’s the perfect lunch beer to go with fried anything.”— Brittanny Anderson__
“This is a bold and summery dish [there are a few chiles in the dressing], and a smoked beer like a Rauchbier would be super tight with it. The smokiness of the beer would complement the cumin in this dish, as well as making the acidity from the lime juice really pop.” __— B.A.
“This dish would pair well with the contrasting black pepper notes and the dry, crisp character of a table saison. Something low in ABV.” — Averie Swanson
“I would pair a big, sweet IPA with this. Sometimes those big double IPAs can be overwhelming without food, but if you stack ‘em up against something spicy and crunchy and cold, that sticky sweetness just rounds out the whole bite.” — B.A.
“I’d do a Belgian witbier here, a low-ABV beer brewed with wheat. The subtle citrus and fruit character of a witbier would complement the mango salad nicely, and the fluffy texture of the wheat would hold space for the delicate flavors of the snapper, while cooling whatever spiciness is present.” — A.S.
“I’d eat this massive pork with a helles lager or pilsner, something light and crushable. The complexity of the sweet and savory glaze could easily get muddled by a more aggressive beer style. The basic biscuity flavors of an easy-drinking lager enhance the experience of the pork and help produce overall balance.” — B.P.
“The light acidity of a gose will definitely highlight the lemon in this dish, and the subtle salt presence in a gose will help create a seamless flavor experience, especially with a savory dish like this.” — A.S.
“Witbier makes for great food beer all around. It has enough natural complexity to complement a wide range of food flavors while still being quaffable enough to be thirst quenching and refreshing, especially with something as savory as lamb. The combination of the rosemary with the spices in a witbier (coriander, grains of paradise, etc.) should complement the gaminess/minerality of the lamb.” — B.P.
“Grilled chicken with chiles and anchovy is going to be super earthy and funky, so let’s pair like-with-like and go with a wild ale, one with lots of big, fruity, barnyard-ish flavors from a wild yeast called Brettanomyces. Wild ales can also have tartness too. The funk and acidity of the style is going to blend with those rich, salty flavors of the anchovy and it will be a big umami bomb for sure. I need that right now.” — B.A.
“For short rib, we’re going to need a beer that can stand its ground. The sweet juiciness of the New England IPA contrasts the savory fattiness of the short rib and the spice of the red curry. While it may not contribute anything obvious in terms of flavor interplay, it sounds damn satisfying to me.” — B.P.
“The bready wheat character of a beer like an American wheat ale will resonate with the crust of a crisp. And the soft stone fruit character of this style of beer will pair perfectly with the peaches in this dish, a true summer pairing.” — A.S.