The Best Craft Beers to Pair with Food

Get crafty this season and pair summery dishes with one-of-a-kind beer finds, courtesy of The Beer Chicks, beer sommeliers Christina Perozzi and Hallie Beaune.

  • Beer Shandy
    Text By Amy Ahlberg

    Find Your Best Beer

    A lot of people just think of beer as a way to wash down their meals, but with all of its varieties and complexities, beer can be paired with food much in the same way that a sommelier pairs wine with food. In fact, beer often makes an even better complement to foods that are traditionally difficult wine pairings. For example, spicy and ethnic foods, rich chocolate, and earthy asparagus, mushrooms and artichokes have long given wine sommeliers a challenge, but there is a beer out there that works with all of those flavors -- and more.

  • Burgers with Blue Cheese Mayo and Sherry Vidalia Onions
    Text By Amy Ahlberg, Photo: Anna Williams; Styling: Pam Morris

    Burgers with Blue Cheese Mayo and Sherry Vidalia Onions

    Make hamburgers extra-special by topping them with onions dressed with sherry vinegar and fresh thyme, and mix up some easy, blue cheese mayo for a fabulous finish. Choose Racer 5 IPA, Bear Republic Brewing Company, Healdsburg, California, to quaff with these tasty burgers. "The crisp bite from the piney and citrus hops in this beer cut through the big flavors of the meat, cheese and onions, offering a balance on the palate," says Perozzi.
  • Grilled Shrimp, Mango, and Avocado
    Text By Amy Ahlberg, Photo: Randy Mayor; Stylist: Cindy Barr

    Grilled Shrimp, Mango and Avocado

    For a taste of the tropics, briefly grill mango and avocado and serve with zingy skewers of lime-chile marinated shrimp. A great match? Maui Coconut Porter, Maui Brewing Company, Lahaina, Hawaii. "It's counterintuitive to have a dark beer with seafood, but this bright porter has amazing notes of coconut that will harmonize with the other tropical fruits in this dish," says Perozzi.
  • Grill-Braised Clams and Choirzo in Tomato-Saffron Broth
    Text By Amy Ahlberg, Photo: Anna Williams; Styling: Pam Morris

    Grill-Braised Clams and Chorizo in Tomato-Saffron Broth

    Hickory-grilled corn, poblano pepper and chorizo add deep smoky flavor to this Spanish-inspired dish. Pair with Saison Foret, Brasserie DuPont, Belgium, says Beaune: "This farmhouse-style Belgian Saison has notes of citrus and pepper with a complex grassiness and a dryness that holds up well against foods like tomato and chorizo."
  • Grilled Halibut with Peach and Pepper Salsa
    Text By Amy Ahlberg, Photo: Gentl and Hyers; Styling: Kendra Smoot

    Grilled Halibut with Peach and Pepper Salsa

    Wake up mild halibut with a vibrant, summery salsa that’s made with peaches, red bell pepper, green onions, and arugula and dressed with lemon juice, oregano, habanero pepper, and garlic. Play up the citrus notes in the dish with Allagash White, Allagash Brewing Co, Portland, Maine. "This Belgian-style Witbier or White Ale is brewed with coriander and Curacao orange peel. It's light, crisp, fruity and spicy," says Perozzi.
  • Fried Fish Sandwiches
    Text By Amy Ahlberg

    Fried Fish Sandwiches

    Fry fillets of your favorite firm, white fish in a zesty beer batter, top with lettuce, tomato, and tartar sauce, and serve on hamburger buns. A great beer to serve with (and include in) this recipe is Houblon Chouffe Dobbelen IPA Tripel, Brasserie d'Achouffe, Belgium, says Beaune: "This Belgian IPA has complex notes of sweet grain, grassy, floral hops and a nice bite that will hold up against the tartar sauce."
  • Barbecued Chicken
    Text By Amy Ahlberg, Photo: Thayer Allyson Gowdy

    Barbecued Chicken

    For juicy, flavorful grilled chicken that’s far from ordinary, soak it in brine first, and make your own homemade barbecue sauce – the taste payoff is well worth the extra effort. Strong grilled flavors like these call for 1554, New Belgium Brewing Co, Fort Collins, Colorado, says Perozzi: "This Belgian-style dark ale is light in body, but offers a hint of smoke and toasty malt that will add something special to barbecued chicken."
  • Spicy Grilled Pork Tenderloin With Blackberry Sauce
    Text By Amy Ahlberg, Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Lydia Pursell

    Spicy Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Blackberry Sauce

    Rub pork tenderloin with Caribbean jerk seasoning and grill it to juicy perfection while you whisk up an unexpected sauce made with blackberry preserves, Dijon mustard, rum or orange juice, and fresh ginger. Beaune suggests pairing it with Caracole Amber, Brasserie Caracole, Belgium: "This Belgian Amber ale has a lovely complexity of fruit and spice with a dry finish that will stand up well to the sweet and tart flavors of the blackberries."
  • Grilled Beef Skewers with Moroccan Spices
    Text By Amy Ahlberg, Photo: Ray Kachatorian

    Grilled Beef Skewers with Moroccan Spices

    Cumin, red pepper, and herbs add an exotic accent to skewers of grilled flank steak, bell pepper and onion. An ideal beer match? Maudite, Unibroue, Quebec, says Beaune: "This Belgian-style dubbel has notes of dark fruit and spice that go perfectly with Moroccan spices."
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