Beer Articles > A Guide to Beer and Food Pairing

A Guide to Beer and Food Pairing

Just like wine, beer can also be paired with many types of food. Because beer is a versatile beverage, it can complement (or contrast with) a dish. Different kinds of beer can be paired with different kinds of food, and the trick to having a most enjoyable dining and drinking experience is knowing which beer to pair with which food.

Pairing Beer and Food: The Basics

There are some general tips to follow when it comes to beer and food pairing:

  • Remember this beer-to-wine comparison: ale is like red wine and lager is like white wine. Ales are more fruity and robust, and lagers are crispier and more delicate. Pair accordingly.
  • Choose a heartier meal when drinking a bitter beer. If a beer has a hoppy bitterness to it, pick a dish that can hold its own against the beer.
  • Pair beer and foods that have elements in common. For instance, pair a sweet beer with sweet food, or a tart beer with tart food. Keep in mind that are three types of beer: light, medium and heavy. The general rule is that one should pair light dishes with light beer and so on.
  • Know that there are exceptions to the rule. While most people encourage finding commonalities in beer and food pairings, some also encourage trying contrasting flavors. For instance, it is acceptable to pair sweet chocolates with dry and strong beers.
  • Feel free to experiment. There are no mistakes when it comes to beer and food pairings, because taste is subjective. If a certain pairing works for an individual but not others, there is nothing wrong with that. Beer lovers should be free to drink and eat what they like.

Expert Advice in Pairings

Making one’s own rules in beer and food pairing is fun. However, some beer afficionados prefer to get some expert advice on the matter. The Brewers Association has their own pairing guide that devoted beer fans can use as a guide. The guide includes choices for main course, cheese and dessert. Below are some of their suggestions:

India Pale Ale

  • Suggested Food Pairing: strong, spicy foods like curry
  • Cheese Pairing: Gorgonzola or Cambozola
  • Dessert Pairing: carrot cake, caramel apple tart, ginger spice cake


  • Suggested Food Pairing: hearty foods like grilled salmon, roast pork, smoked sausage
  • Cheese Pairing: aged Gouda, Cheshire
  • Dessert Pairing: almond/maple-walnut cake, cashew brittle


  • Suggested Food Pairing: roasted/smoked food like barbecue and sausages
  • Cheese Pairing: a cow milk based cheese, like Tilsit or Gruyere
  • Dessert Pairing: chocolate peanut butter cookies

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