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Surprising Beer Pairings

Just tried a fresh nectarine with Pliny the Elder. Worked surprisingly well.

Any other unusual pairings y'all have run into?

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  1. You can try that in a beer infuser too.

    1. Last Sunday I "paired" a Capt. Lawrence Smoked Porter with negi toro-don (minced raw tuna and onion) on rice and a grilled tuna cheek bone and it was.....well it was interesting. I'm not sure what I was thinking when I grabbed that beer. But "unusual" is a definitely a good descriptor for it all.

      1. The best beer pairings I have had are cheeses. It still amazes me how many people scoff at the idea of pairing beer with cheese.

        11 Replies
        1. re: jpc8015

          I have never heard anyone scoff at the idea of pairing beer with cheese. Beer is the ideal accompaniment to cheese.

          1. re: Tripeler

            It is usually the wine people scoffing at beer and cheese pairings. Some of them have a hard time understanding that beer goes beyond Bud Light.

            1. re: jpc8015

              I think it goes beyond that. A wine drinker might not have thought about a beer's ability to scrub fat off the tongue due to its carbonation, for instance.

              1. re: Jim Dorsch

                I think that a lot of people just have a superiority complex when it comes to wine.

                    1. re: Josh

                      Interesting to me that more beer fans are somewhat knowledgeable about wine than wine fans are about beer. Champagne and Cava are great matches for beer, though.

                      1. re: Tripeler

                        Great points. I used to be a wine buyer for a Marriott property so I like to think that I know a thing or two about wine. I certainly knew about the wines that were on my list and knew how to pair them with our menu. But by no means am I an expert on the stuff.

                        Sometimes I like to pair my beer with a shot of Crown Royal.

                        1. re: jpc8015

                          Beer with a Crown Royal shot sounds like winter to me.

                          1. re: Tripeler

                            I know the Christmas season is upon us once I have had a shot of Rumpluminze chased by a Pyramid Snowcap.

            2. That sound far too much like Magic Hat #9 on P.E.D.'s for me to ever want to even try it.
              Now that beer with a baked avocado with an egg placed in the seed hole , topped with cheddar would be great

              1 Reply
              1. re: niquejim

                Don't knock it 'til you've tried it.


                1. At the risk of pushback from beer pairing afficianados and their need to apply "rules" without trying it for themselves, I think IPA's and sushi go very well together.

                  Was never really a fan of pairing cigars and craft beer unless its just something lightly flavored with low hopping rates to just scrub the palate, but my recent attemps have shown that a baltic porter and robust, darker wrapped cigars go pretty well together. Also discovered that Widmer Alchemy Ale's berry flavors and light crystal maltiness pairs well with milder cigars.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: LStaff

                    "I think IPA's and sushi go very well together."

                    Sushi is pretty diverse. Any pair better than others?

                    1. re: LStaff

                      I thought this sounded familiar and dug this up from couple years ago- http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/770915 .

                      1. re: LStaff

                        Yeah that was a pretty interesting exchange, Silverjay.

                        While I typically prefer a lager, I do enjoy an IPA with some of the stronger flavored sashimi (pickled mackerel and what-not) and omakase plates the chef from my local sushi joint whips up.

                      2. Speaking of beer with cheese.. I am a huge fan of pairing a good saison with goat cheese. especially Truffle Tremor. The earthyness of the truffle, the tang of the goat cheese and the spice of the saison really all meld wonderfully.

                        13 Replies
                        1. re: cwdonald

                          Very good advice. Pairing Saison beers is sometimes tricky.

                          1. re: Tripeler

                            Huh? Most beer and food lovers find Saison to be the most versatile.

                            1. re: Chinon00

                              Probably depends on the saison. That style seems especially hard for people to do well.

                              1. re: Josh

                                Yeah, with Saison I experience such a wide variety of approaches, so matching in advance is hard. I usually only try those made in Belgium.

                                1. re: Tripeler

                                  That's a good policy, though there are a couple of good domestics I've had recently. Almanac's Honey Saison is pretty tasty, and Logsdon's Seizoen (both the Bretta and standard) are incredible, especially given their absurdly low price point ($10-12/750ml).

                                2. re: Josh

                                  My go-to saisons are:
                                  Pretty Things Jack D'Or (recently no longer distributed in Philly)
                                  Victory Helios
                                  Saison DuPont

                                  They each are dry and highly carbonated which makes them food friendly but they also allow enough space on the palate for lighter foods to shine but at the same time have enough impact to stand up to fried livers, bold Asian foods..

                                  1. re: Chinon00

                                    We had joy, we had fun.
                                    We had saisons in the sun.

                                    1. re: Chinon00

                                      Chinon your list is great... i would add in

                                      Solaire from Forest and Main
                                      McKenzie's Brew House Saison Vauteur (has won gold awards)
                                      Ommegang Hennepin

                                      BTW what happened with Pretty Things? Did they lose a distributor?

                                      1. re: cwdonald

                                        They were having trouble serving New England their home market.

                                        1. re: Chinon00

                                          So they have pulled out of the PA Market?

                                          1. re: cwdonald

                                            That's what I hear.
                                            Also, Stillwater Stateside Saison is another excellent one.

                                            1. re: Chinon00

                                              Forgot about Stillwater. Stateside and Cellar Door are both quite nice.

                                        2. re: cwdonald

                                          How could I forget McKenzies Saison Vatour or Sly Fox Saison Vos

                              2. Gingersnaps - although I can't now remember if the beer in question was malty or hoppy. Maybe a brown ale?

                                  1. Alpine Exponential Hoppiness and an espresso dark chocolate truffle from The Elegant Truffle in San Diego.

                                    I think the source of the affinity must be some overlap in aromatic compounds shared between coffee and hops. More than once I've been driving with a fresh bag of coffee in my car and caught the momentary phantom whiff of hops.

                                    1. Last night I made a Thai fish laab salad. Actually, it's a bit more in Lao style. Anyway, I was curious about Thai food and IPAs so I paired it with a Dogfish Head 60 minute. It was a terrible pairing. It wasn't the fish that made it bad but it was all the herbs and aromatics. Just too much of an overload for IPA and the hops just didn't fit. It was actually kind of nasty.

                                      There's a lot of dishes that are like this in Thai cuisine. I don't think IPAs are right for it.

                                      5 Replies
                                      1. re: Silverjay

                                        I agree. I've never understood the IPA/Thai pairing conventional wisdom. For me that type of dish screams for a crisp lager.

                                        1. re: Josh

                                          Something creamy might be good too. Guinness maybe....The issue with IPAs is the nose clashing with the aromatics like lemongrass, kaffir lime, holy basil, etc. in Thai cuisine. Hops just get in the way and they do not complement at all. The flavor too was nasty, though it might hold up better with meat. I make a lot Thai food these days so I'll keep experimenting.

                                          1. re: Silverjay

                                            For the food you were having, I would have chosen a malt-driven beer such as a doppelbock, though a sweet Belgian ale like a Westmalle Dubble would have been good. There was a Burmese restaurant in Tokyo that would recommend Hoegaarden Forbidden Fruit (Adam & Eve) with their food. But sweetness, creaminess and an absence of hop bitterness would be called for.

                                            1. re: Tripeler

                                              Ok, I made a spicy chicken laab this time, with bits of pork belly, tossed with fresh Thai basil we grow ourselves, mint, cilantro, lemongrass, etc. Paired this time with a beer from Stillwater, an artisanal brewer out of Baltimore. The beer was As Follows, a Belgian strong ale- http://beeradvocate.com/beer/profile/.... It's hoppier than a usual Belgian style beer, but really just a bit of a citrus on the nose. For the most part tasted like a cross between a saison and a double. It was complex and wet and perfect. And man, it hid that 9+ abv well, which was nice as this was the spiciest rendition I've made yet of the laab dish.

                                              1. re: Silverjay

                                                The high alcohol really unlocks the flavor of the spices since the oils are quickly released. Sounds fantastic.