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What Beer to go with Chinese food?

Hey guys, I'm looking for beers to pair with Chinese food. I work a bar in a Chinese restaurant and I've been bringing in beers for the boss man to try. It seems like a lot of Chinese folks (I'm Chinese by the way) don't seem to like beers that are too bitter. He likes the fruit lambics and hefs, but not so much the stouts and Belgians I've brought in. Anybody in Austin know how I can get some of Live Oak's fabulous Hef? Anyway, give me your picks for Chinese food beers!

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  1. Hello,

    A Chinese restaurant close to me (Dublin) serves "Snow beer". Yum, it's light, fruity and clean. By light, I mean that there isn't an overpowering hoppy flavour. It's also slightly sweet, not sugary sweet, it just doesn't have that bitterness that beer generally has.

    I'm not a beer fan and this is one of the few beers that i will drink by choice.


    1. Call the Live Oak brewery - (512)-385-2299 - they will surely be able to tell you where to find it.

      I think with chinese, you would need something to cut the oil and grease - strong belgian style dark ales come to mind. I once happened to be drinking Unibroue Trois Pistoles when someone brought home some Chinese food, and this was the perfect beer for it.

      1. The trick to pairing beer and food is to look at how the food is prepared and what kinds of flavors are present. All due respect to LStaff, but I wouldn't think to put trappist style ale and Chinese food together.

        Chinese food is fried, spicy, and salty - for me that suggests exactly the route you've been taking, fruit lambic and hefeweizen. High alcohol beer will taste too hot, and really what you want for cutting grease is something that is highly effervescent.

        For myself, I like a good gueuze (Lambic without fruit) with Chinese food. It's super effervescent, light in body, low in alcohol, and has a wonderfully tart flavor that is very palate cleansing - the tartness is also a good counterpoint to any sour or vinegary flavors in the seasoning.

        Another option you might try are Belgian brown ales. Duchess de Bourgogne is good - it's also sour and light-bodied, and very delicious. Belgian brown ale is a very particular style - it's not trappist or abbey-style. The Belgian brown tends to be lower in alcohol, with a dry finish, and not especially hoppy.

        1. I'll second the suggestions for lighter beers: Hefeweisen, pilsner, pale ale, IPA, summer ale from various breweries, etc.

          It's great that you're trying to provide variety at your restaurant. I would drink a lot more beer with Chinese food if restaurants had better selection. The usual suspects are Heineken, Sapporo, Ichiban, Kirin, Coors, Bud, Tsing Tao, Taiwan, etc. So boring! On the other hand, depending on your clientele, you might get customers who like the comfort of familiarity.

          On a more boring note, try Sierra Nevada. My boyfriend left some in his (Chinese) dad's fridge once, despite his dad's sneers that "you kids don't know good beer" (his dad only drank Heineken and thought Sierra Nevada was some cheap $5 a dozen brand like Blue Ribbon). Next time my boyfriend went to his dad's house, the number of Sierra Nevada bottles had grown. Apparently dear old dad developed a liking and found some at the supermarket himself.

          8 Replies
          1. re: Pei

            True story:

            Went to a Chinese place here in San Diego that allows you to BYOB. This guy at the next table had brought a bottle of Kirin. He explained to the owner that he wanted to have some Chinese beer with his meal. He looked pretty embarrassed when she told him it was Japanese. I wanted to chime in and inform them both that it's actually Canadian, but my g/f would have killed me.

            I think it's a shame that so many ethnic restaurants insist on serving sub-par beer if it's from the native country. Every Japanese place has Sapporo, Asahi, and Kirin (sometimes Orion), but never any of the amazing beers from Hitachino Nest.

            One of my favorite local Indian places serves Anderson Valley IPA, at only $3 a bottle. I wish more places were like that.

            1. re: Josh

              Where is that place? I love AVIPA and Indian food?

              1. re: MVNYC

                Ashoka the Great. It's on Black Mountain Road, in the Indian shopping center there.

              2. re: Josh

                If you are ever up in L.A., Sushi Karen in Culver City carries Hitachino Nest beers... It's so cute with the with the little owl! :)


                1. re: Josh

                  I've actually tried a Hitachino Nest beer before. It's funny that I found it in Cincinati, Ohio and haven't seen it anywhere here in Southern California. I recall that it tasted a bit like Cola, a very different beer. Anyone know where I can buy some?

                  1. re: wanderlustre

                    Look here for information on where to buy in your area: http://www.bunitedint.com/services/ac...

                    I noticed on the home page of this site that HN will be featured in the Aug Bon Appetit.

                    1. re: Jim Dorsch

                      HN is one of my favorite breweries. Their Japanese Classic Ale is simply amazing - an IPA aged in cedar.

                2. re: Pei

                  Singha is a good one, but I don't know that it's served at many Chinese places. The hoppiness plays well with spicy cuisine.

                3. I really admire you and your boss' desire to do this. One of the prices that you often have to pay for eating some of the great world cuisines such as Chinese, Mexican or Italian is the extremely lame beers that are available in their restaurants (and for Mexican and Chinese, beer is a natural pairing). At least many French restaurants have a decent Belgian like a Chimay available. I like American Style IPAs such a Dogfish 60 minute IPA or any other hoppy beer with Chinese food if I can BYOB, but clearly they are too bitter for your boss's (or his patrons') taste. Perhaps a lightly hopped Pale Ale like the suggested Sierra Nevada would meet your needs.

                  1. Beers that go well with Chinese food often aren't the beers a beer-lover would like. Tsingtao and Kirin, already panned earlier, go well. Btw, Tsingtao makes a Dark; may be a nice menu addition if you already serve the regular Tsingtao.

                    Singapore's Tiger Beer goes well with spicy Chinese food.

                    I personally enjoy Foster's Lager with my takeout. A friend of mine likes Pilsner Urquell with his.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: J T

                      IIRC Anheuser-Busch now imports Tiger, so one might expect it to become a bit easier to find.

                      1. re: J T

                        I would not agree with that. There are plenty of good beers that go with chinese food. As stated above, wheat beers, and IPA's both have the ability to cut through the strong oily flavours of Chinese food.

                        1. re: J T

                          Foster's is pretty much like drinking Tsing Tao or Kirin, which in turn are like drinking Molson, Labatts, or Bud.

                          Just because Kirin and Tsing Tao are ostensibly Asian doesn't mean they're good Chinese pairings. The truth of the matter is that restaurant owners and beer wholesalers are often extremely ignorant about beer and how to pair it with food.

                          Wine lists in Asian restaurants are every bit as dismal as beer. They just figure that if they have some crappy plum wine, that's what people will order since it's "authentic".

                          This kind of 'tude totally irks me because good beer or wine paired appropriately with food is one of life's great pleasures - to be categorically denied it at every Chinese restaurant totally sucks. I'm not going to order Tsing Tao just because it's the only choice on the menu. In that scenario, water will suit me just fine.

                          1. re: Josh

                            Couldnt agree more. Tsing Tao ranks up there with Corona as one of the worst beers i have ever had.

                        2. I've always like Pete's Wicked Ale (unflavored) or Saranac Pale Ale with spicy chinese.