Beer with Fish

Posted by BeerMaven | Food & Beer | Posted on May 10th

Drinking beer while eating fish can be somewhat of an art. The flavors of fish can vary as much as those of beer and once you understand how each type of fish contributes to your meal; you can easily match it to a suitable and delectable beer. For instance, when coupling a smoked fish dish with a smoky beer like an Alaskan Smoked Porter or even a subtle red ale, you will find that the flavors complement one another extremely well.

Enter the Pilsner— a subtly hoppy beer, dry and full of substance— coupled with firmer fish like cod or pike that is easily softened. In contrast, salmon blends perfectly with a more flashy beer like the Dortmunder Export, a crisp beer that not only sharpens the flavors but also refreshes the palate allowing for a far more enjoyable meal.

Greasy or fatty fish are well accompanied by an American pale ale or even a crisp pilsner. These beers cut through the fatty consistency and entice the taste buds. In most cases, you want to think lighter beers with fish, due to the tendency that darker beers have of overpowering. Of course, smoked fish is the exception to the rule and can go surprisingly well with a porter.

Another personal favorite of mine is Belgian witbier. Hoegaarden, for example is a dry bubbly ale with hints of lemon that would easily accompany most fish dishes. As most fish is commonly prepared with lemon, the fish and beer will easily carry one another. Pairing with a dry beer provides a lighter drinking experience while you are enjoying your meal.

On the other hand, you could be using these beers to prepare your meals, bearing in mind that you can either couple your fish dish with the beer used to prepare the meal or use a contrasting beer to enhance the flavors. Some might say that battered fish prepared with a simple beer, flour and herb coating, deep fried and served with a green salad would be best suited with a crisp white wine but I suggest that you find a light and refreshing beer to go with your fish.

Marinating or even poaching fish in a lager has proven to compliment and soften the tougher varieties of fish as well as enhance the flavors of your softer fish. By experimenting with your favorite flavors you will soon find that beer is much like wine and can be a wonderful ingredient to keep handy in the kitchen.

Spend some time at your local beer clubs and learn more about your neighborhood microbrewers to study the flavors of beer and you will be surprised at how many beers carry the same spices that are used to enhance food. What else would you expect from the world’s oldest alcoholic beverage?


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