Snack mixes are crunchy, gently spiced, and often just a tad sweet. They require a beer that will neither stand in the way of nor get washed out by the spiced flavors. Maibocks (also called Heller Bocks) are a perfect choice because they’re assertive and malty without being cloying or in-your-face. And most are only moderately alcoholic, which means you can comfortably have one or two before reaching for the next pairing.
Many tend to think of pretzels and pilsner as a perfect pairing, but go against the fold and try a more obscure German-style beer, like Helles. It’s a very simple, lightly perfumed beer with a brilliant straw color and a snappy finish that’s well suited for these yeasty, salt-sprinkled pretzels.
Dark Mexican lagers like Dos Equis, Victoria, and Negra Modelo are actually exiled versions of Austrian-style Vienna lagers. They pair well with Mexican foods because they’re refreshing, clean tasting, and robust enough to match the cuisine’s bold, intense flavors like those in guacamole.
Saisons and farmhouse ales are the versatile workhorses of beer-and-food pairings. They often have a bread-y quality that’s simple and refreshing, and their high levels of carbonation cleanse the palate with eachpretty much a no-brainer for savory, earthy dips like spinach and artichoke and French onion. Pick a bone-dry one from Belgium or an American analog like this one from California that isn’t overly spiced or heavy on the palate.
Hoppy ales like IPAs are notoriously finicky when matched with food. The bitterness from the hops paired with their enormous floral and fruit aromas often interfere with and even alter a dish’s flavor. (In extreme instances, the effect is akin to that of Szechuan peppercorns.) The perfect foil? Cool, creamy pimento cheese dip, spread thick on crackers with just a hint of peppery spice.
Heat begets heat begets heat with this fiery pairing. Spicy food and spicy beer don’t always harmonize—sometimes the commingling of capsaicin is just too much—but the echoing of flavors and sensations is a neat trick when it works. Try choosing a chile beer that isn’t just gimmicky, off-the-charts spicy, and be sure to stock up on extra sour cream just in case the Scoville units get out of control. This beer is also delicious with spicy jalapeño poppers.
Because chicken is essentially a blank canvas, this pairing is all about the sauce. For honey mustard wings, choose a beer that can match the sweetness without accentuating it, like a malt-forward brown ale. For spicy wings, try a cooling, silky beer like a Cream Ale or even a nitrogenated Stout.
Hot dogs are one of the simplest foods for pairing with beer—they taste great with practically anything. It’s hard to go wrong here. That said, a light-bodied, dry, lemony beer like Gose is a perfect palate cleanser for fatty wursts and other salty encased meats.
Beef calls out for a beer with some structure—choose something hearty and bold like a Baltic Porter. The dark malts are layered and robust, which creates a solid match for juicy burgers with all the toppings.
Enter the fourth quarter with these nutty, bittersweet cookies and a boozy nightcap beer bursting with chocolate, vanilla, and marshmallow flavors. Leave the clean up for tomorrow…