International Beer Day: What food to pair with what types of beer

When you think of food and beverage pairings, your mind will probably go to fancy wine tastings and fussy small plates.

However, choosing the right drink for your meal can make or break your evening – you want something to complement the flavours rather than overpower them. That’s why food and beer pairings are just as crucial as what wine to have with your dinner.

Considering there are so many types of beer, with so many different flavour profiles, it can be difficult to know what goes best with what. Luckily, in honour of International Beer Day (August 7th) Paul Human, co-founder and head chef of beer and burger bar The Collab, Walthamstow and We Serve Humans, is here to help.

Lager

For Human, “good lager should be dry, a little bitter, floral and yeasty”, and these flavours, he explains, “lend themselves well to a delicately herbed roast chicken, a simple high quality Frankfurter, maybe with sauerkraut and American mustard.”

Lagers tend to be crisp and easy to drink, so keep things simple. The same logic applies to a pilsner, which Human says “is really a lager”. He recommends a cold, fresh pilsner with “some light smoked salmon canapes, some BBQ chicken wings and whipped goat’s cheese with red onion jam on crostini”.

If you wanted to go one step further with your food and lager combo, Human says: “Thanks to the bubbles, it’s a great ingredient for a light, crisp batter – I even use it in my Yorkshire puddings instead of milk.”

Ale

“Now we’re getting a little hoppier, we can bring out the big guns flavour-wise,” says Human. He reckons ales pair perfectly with “burgers loaded with zingy pickles and tangy cheese, heavily seasoned and full of umami.”

Unlike with lagers, you really don’t need to be afraid of bold flavours – they’re perfect with a complex ale. Human adds: “The aim of the game here is to balance the hops with acid and fat, so fried foods generally fit the bill here. Heavy on the sauce!”

IPA

IPAs have seen a huge surge in popularity in recent years. It stands for India Pale Ale, and Human describes the general taste as “powerful, hoppy and hazy”. With this in mind, he likes an IPA best with Thai food because “powerful food needs a powerful drink”.

While a lot of the other beers on this list have obvious foods to pair with, the floor is a lot more open for IPAs. Human says: “IPA is as complex and varied as wine, so it’s really down to the beer and your imagination.”

Stout

For many, stout is very much a winter drink. Whether you’re a dedicated stout drinker all year round, or are just waiting for the weather to cool down, Human recommends pairing one with “a rich and hearty beef and oyster pie”.

“Lots of stouts have caramel and toffee notes which can also lend itself well to puddings,” he adds. “Think dark chocolate and raspberry desserts or coffee cheesecake.”