Although wine is most commonly paired with food on menu recommendations, beer is another versatile alcoholic beverage that complements an array of dishes, especially appetizers. Beer ranges from light, crisp lagers and ales to medium-bodied, hoppy, malty pilsners and thick, creamy stouts. Learn which appetizers go best with these and other types of beer for flavor matchups made in sports bar and grill heaven.
The wings and beer combination has become so popular that restaurants featuring the pair can be found from coast to coast. Hot, spicy and Cajun wings go best with bright, clean and crisp Mexican lager styles, malty pilsners or medium-bodied bocks, while the sweetness of honey barbecue wings pairs well with slightly bitter amber beers. Blonde and golden ale Belgian beers complement garlic wings and other garlic-based appetizers such as garlic knots or garlic shrimp.
Pretzels and beer are a classic matchup that has been served in bars around the world for decades. Pretzels also make a great appetizer or snack during sports games or at casual summer cookouts. Serve old-fashioned, thick, hard pretzels alongside lagers or wheat beer for a light beer-appetizer combination. Serve warm, soft pretzels with mustard or cheese sauce for dipping with bock or other robust, dark amber beers. Thin pretzel rods and warm mini pretzel bites also pair well with clean, light lagers and wheat beers because they are not as heavy as thick or full-sized pretzels.
As a general rule, heavier beers go best with heavier foods, while lighter beers pair best with light foods. Because fried appetizers often lean on the heavy side, you can't go wrong with medium-bodied or even heavy, robust beers. The malty, semi-bitter taste of pilsner beers and amber ales pairs well with mozzarella sticks, chicken fingers, breaded mushrooms, onion rings and other popular fried appetizer dishes. Thick and rich stouts also pair well with these appetizers.
Believe it or not, salad and beer make for a surprisingly satisfying, complementary beer-appetizer pairing. Pilsners with bite pair well with hefty salads or garden salads dressed with rich and creamy salad dressings. Brown ales and lagers complement the light and zesty flavor of spring mixes drizzled with oil and vinegar dressings. The light, slightly fermented taste of wheat beer goes well with fruit salads such as Waldorf salad, Asian salads made with mandarin oranges and grilled chicken salads as well as salad greens topped with raspberry vinaigrette.
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