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What Are Your Favorite Beers To Compliment Spicy Chili?

I grew up and presently live in Iowa, but spent 13-plus years in Texas. Thus, I am a fan of making spicy chili slow cooked with chunks of beef, onions, tomatoes, poblano peppers, etc. Due to being in the midst of Winter, I served up two wheat beers and one amber. Started out with Breckenridge's Agave Wheat [Colorado]. The next beer course was Boulevard Wheat from Kansas City. After dinner, I finished off with a local offering from the Amana Colonies in Iowa called Schild Brau Amber. What are your favorite beers to compliment a spicy dish in the dead of Winter?

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  1. The Schild Brau sounds like a nice pairing.
    I could probably enjoy just about any beer with a good bowl of red, but _my_ favorite match might just be a dark German lager.

    1 Reply
    1. re: The Professor

      Thanks for the suggestions ... I can see a dark German Beer working nicely.

      1. re: wyogal

        Normally I don't have beer with spicy chili or salsa. The heat and spices tend to throw the taste of the beer way off, if not obliterate it completely. That said, if I do have beer with such foods, it's not worth it to me to "waste" a really good beer this way so I just grab a sixer of something cheap but respectable like Sierra Nevada's Torpedo.

        A beer like that has at least a fighting chance of somewhat holding up to hot foods such as these. But normally I'd reach for some sort of soda (and I rarely drink soda), or if it's REALLY hot and spicy food then I'll just drink milk.

        1. re: Whisper

          I do otherwise like Sierra Nevada's offerings. For me, I find that an IPA overwhelms a spicy meal, which is the main focus .... I guess that is why I tried to go with something that would compliment spices [cumin, corriander, etc.] like a wheat beer or a dark lager that doesn't take over the main course.

          1. re: hawkeyeui93

            Torpedo is barely an IPA to me. :-o It drinks more like a hopped up amber since it has plenty of residual sweetness and thickish mouthfeel to balance the hops. I can see it working with a spicy chili.

            When it comes to spicy or acidic foods for me, many beers are ruined since it conflicts with the yeast profile and alcohol in the beer and wich makes the beer seem hot a and spicy itself. Clean yeast profile beers like German lagers with a good malt backbone and most SN beers (chico yeast is usually pretty clean) seem to work best imo.

            1. re: LStaff

              LStaff: I usually like my IPA's separate and apart from eating. With that being said, that is why I am asking the question and will give SN Torpedo a try next time I have chili. I tend to agree that both German Lagers and for me, unfiltered wheat beers, tend to work for my palate. Thanks for your input.

              1. re: hawkeyeui93

                Most beer pairing charts note that hoppy beers enhance the spiciness of a dish, somethig that I totally agree with

                1. re: niquejim

                  I find drinking hoppy beers lessen my desire to eat simultaneously ....

                    1. re: hawkeyeui93

                      You must not love hoppy beers. I've enjoyed an IPA with creme brulee, and liked it.

                2. re: LStaff

                  Taste is subjective and I agree that Torpedo has a nice malt backbone, but at 65 ibu's it's certainly an IPA, and then some

              2. re: Whisper

                not sure what that has to do with my reply.... I think you are replying to the OP.

                1. re: wyogal

                  I have always found posting on CH confusing at times. Sometimes you think you are directly replying to a post and it will put it far afield from where you intended ...

                  1. re: hawkeyeui93

                    yep, I've done it, too... :) I have to double check, make sure I'm hitting the "reply to original post"

            2. For me, bitter hops and spicy food just doesn't work. I'd go with a Belgian style dubbel or a German schwarzbier or dopplebock. A maibock might work too.

              1 Reply
              1. re: chuckl

                I will have to try a maibock next time .... Thanks for the suggestions!

              2. For spicy, I always go the crisp route - either a German lager or something like a Kolsch. Spaten Lager is probably my favorite to pair with spicy. Although Grolsch is a bit more biting, so that would probably work better with something heartier. I think anything that is pricey or complex is a total waste, you just won't taste it. Wheat beer is a good one too.

                1 Reply
                1. Vienna lager, dunkel or other malt-sweet low hopped beers. Sugar will counter the heat while low hoppiness won't overpower the dish.

                  1. I agree with a Kolsch, that sounds like it would go quite nicely although I haven't actually tried it. Usually when I eat something spicy I tend to go for simple or non-flavorful beers (yes, like Bud Light) because I just want something to wash it down with. If I'm eating something spicy I want to enjoy that flavor profile and don't care as much about what I'm drinking. But I think a Kolsch will pair nicely, I will have to try that at some point.

                    10 Replies
                    1. re: Solstice444

                      I tend to agree that the macrobrews do work with spicy foods better than most beerhounds would care to admit. In this line of reasoning, I think Yuengling's normal lager would be a good match. I, too, may try a Kolsch next time.

                      1. re: hawkeyeui93

                        I guess I like flavor. Kolsch, yes but macro brew would come after milk, water or lemonade

                        1. re: niquejim

                          How about a 2:1:1 Margarita? [2 parts 100 percent agave tequila, 1 part Cointreau, 1 part freshly squeezed lime on the rocks].

                          1. re: niquejim

                            This is pretty much how I feel. In theory beer sounds like it would make a great companion to spicy chili or salsa, yet in practice I've never found that to be the case. Sure, if you really don't care about the taste (of either the beer or the spicy food) then by all means wash it down with some cheap cold suds. But honestly when eating spicy foods I'd prefer milk, water or even a soda over a beer.

                            Also, I'm really surprised that a number of people here have posted that a Wheat beer would make a good pairing for spicy foods. If they have had success with this, then great, more power to them. My results have been much different. One time I was eating some chips and salsa (pretty mild salsa by the way), and drank a Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier along with it, and it was a complete waste of the beer. The salsa threw the flavor of the beer off so much that I might as well have been drinking Lysol. Not sure how the others here managed to make wheat beer work with spicy foods, but if you've got some kind of secret I'd be interested in it, lol.

                            1. re: Whisper

                              I don't have a secret other than I was drinking two domestic wheat beers ... One is a straight-forward unfiltered from a Kansas City brewery [Boulevard] and the other was from a Denver, CO brewery [Breckenridge] dubbed "Agave Wheat,." which I added a slice of lime to it. My wife loves to do the chunk of orange with the Boulevard Wheat, so maybe the citrus helped. I find some people like Belgians because of the added spices used such as corriander [Hoegaarden], which is one of the many things I use to spice chili.

                              1. re: Whisper

                                What does milk or soda (which is really sweet) bring to a spicy chili or salsa?

                                1. re: Chinon00

                                  I know some people use milk when their mouth is on fire ...

                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    I don't think milk or soda really bring anything to compliment spicy chili or salsa, but I feel as though they don't interfere with the taste of those foods they way beer does. Either the beer tends to throw off the taste of the food, or vice versa. I've never had that happen with milk, water or some sodas I've had alongside spicy foods.

                                    1. re: Whisper

                                      Well beer is very broad and diverse. Firstly we are all aware of beers whose flavor approaches that of water (e.g. Michelob Ultra, Bud light, MGD). I wouldn't advocate any of these beers but nonetheless I can't see them "throwing off the taste of food" any more than water does. And in my experience across the board when it comes to complimenting spicy foods beers with rich malt backbone like Chimay Grand Reserve can really soothe the palate much like milk does and fully register over the meal.
                                      So it depends on what you want to do. If you merely want something light and cool that makes no impact on the palate there are beers available for that. If you want something to compliment and counter the heat then bigger richer beers are the ticket. Just be fearful of hops which can interfere and/or make a profound impact on a meal.

                                    2. re: Chinon00

                                      Nothing. I don't really understand drinking milk with lunch or dinner foods, it's something I wouldn't do, but I know many people do. I feel like milk would throw off the taste of chili more than a light beer but that's just me.

                            2. Singha! It matches with my favorite spicy Thai dishes and also with chili

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: gbque

                                That is one that should work, indeed!

                              2. I'm surprised no one has mentioned stout. I've had good results pairing nice oatmeal stouts like Velvet Merlin and Rogues Shakespeare stout with chili.

                                1. So the majority seem to think IPA's overpower the meal. In my opinion a mellow IPA could go real good with a spicy meal. Being a Texan myself... I eat spicy chili on occasion. I find that IPA's can really go well with certain meals. German brews are usually light on the hop. They primarily use the hops in the initial wort boil for bittering. There are no hops added for flavor, or aroma stages. it makes them stand on the character of the grains for flavor.
                                  Me I think the unique flavor of "hopped up" beer goes well with chili in particular. IPAs are my vote.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: dashmatrix

                                    What are some "mellow" IPAs that you like?

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      Welp, as I may or may not have mentioned... I am a brewer, so I brew all my own beers. I presently have 9 different brews on tap. But as a rule, I'm considering anything that's single grain, single hop as a mellow IPA. If you're in Texas, try Fireman's #4 from Real ale brewing. If your elsewhere try some of the authentic IPA's from Inda, Taj for example. Simple, yet effective.

                                        1. re: dashmatrix

                                          My understanding is that India was the destination of India Pale Ale from England, not the other way around. An "authentic IPA from India" would seem to face at least a couple of significant hurdles, including sourcing local malt and local hops. Also, I believe Taj is brewed in La Jolla, Calif., at Rock Bottom. There is a beer called Taj Mahal from Bangalore that I have not personally had, but which does not seem to be rated very highly.

                                          1. re: chuckl

                                            Right....India Pale Ale _definitely_ didn't originate in India. In fact, research indicates that the original IPAs were not even stronger than the standard British pale ales of the day. Actually, probably more _porter_ was exported than anything else. LOL.

                                            Lots of what has been handed down and repeated over the years regarding IPA is evidently just plain myth. Do a search for blogs entitled "Shut Up ABout Barclay Perkins" and "The Zythophile" and search the archives within those blogs for some very revealing articles about IPA.
                                            Required reading for anyone serious about the history of British beer.

                                    2. I put Bock in my Chili and I drink it with my chili. Incidentally, good homemade chili is probably one of my very favorite things to drink beer with. I don't know what it is about it... good bock and mildly spicy chili are just so great together.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: yossarian22

                                        Shiner Bock and chili reminds me of my 13 years living in West Texas ...