Although overlooked, beer makes the best companion for seafood. Whenever gills, tentacles, claws, and fins are on the menu, everyone automatically thinks of wine. But beers have more diversity than wines, making them a better seafood companion.
Light-bodied beers pair well with spicy sea foods because they cleanse the palate with a clean aftertaste. And because these beers are low in alcohol, you can drink them in large amounts without getting drunk.
This article will reveal the best beer pairings for your favorite seafood dishes. But first, here are some strategies to consider when pairing seafood with beer:
Strategies for Pairing Seafood With Beer
The flavor of your food will always dictate your beer choices, and seafood is no different. With regards to flavor, you can choose any of the following strategies:
- Contrast or Look For Balance: You may want to pair a dish with a delicate flavor profile with a beer of prominent hoppiness. For example, Swordfish steaks are known for their weak flavors. An ideal deal pair combines the faint-flavored fish with a strong German sour like Gose.
- Complement or Play to the Flavor of the Dish: Another effective strategy involves pairing richly-flavored foods with equally-strong beers. For example, chowder and stouts both have creamy textures. As a pair, they make sense because they play to the same tune.
- Cut or Cleanse the Pallet: Your beer can also play the role of a palate cleanser. Such a pairing is ideal for foods that are too strong or overpowering. Lagers and ales make the best palate cleansers because they cut through the intense flavors and prepare you for the next bite.
With these strategies in mind, let’s find the best beer companions for your favorite seafood.
Beer Pairings for Lobster Dishes
Lobster is naturally sweet with a salty aftertaste. It is a versatile dish that can pair well with many beers. The way you prepare your lobster will dictate your beer choices. Let’s look at how popular lobster dishes pair with various beer styles.
Lobster Classics: Wheat Beers and Lagers
A lobster dinner with a pint of wheat beer is a great match. The bitter flavor profile of the wheat beer perfectly compliments the sweet profile of a classic lobster dish. For the best result, pair a Belgium-style witbier with a steamed lobster.
Crisp lagers make excellent pallet cleansers for classic lobster dishes. That briny lobster aftertaste will surely leave your throat dry and thirsty. A light lager washes your throat as you prepare for the next bite.
Grilled Lobsters: American IPAs
An American IPA is the best companion for grilled lobsters, especially one glazed with butter. The prominent bitterness from IPA hops complements the buttery notes of the barbequed lobster.
Pro Tip: You can up the ante by making lobster tacos. Sprinkle a little cayenne pepper and smoked paprika to make them spicy. And remember to fill your beer stein with the finest IPA.
Lobster Mac and Cheese: Saison
The Saison beer style is a Belgian farmhouse ale. It is malty and heavily hopped. Belgian Saisons’ spicy profile contrasts nicely with the subtle lobster flavor of the mac and cheese. This combination works better when the dish is made from Italian cheeses.
Beer Pairings for Crab Dishes
Like lobster, crabmeat is sweet and rich in flavor. Crabs that perfectly fit this description include the snow crab and the Alaskan king crab. How do crab dishes pair with beer? Let’s find out.
Crab Legs: Pilsners
Crab legs pair well will light-bodied and low-alcohol lagers. Pilsners make the best crab leg companions because they contrast nicely with their sweet and spicy character. Plus, it would help to have a super-drinkable beer to fight that low-creeping burn you get from crab legs.
Crab Cakes: Light Lagers
Crab cakes pair well with light lagers. The refreshing and crisp nature of a Bud Light or Corona Light contrasts the spicy character of crab crakes. These lagers cleanse your palate and prepare you for your next bite.
Beer Pairings for Octopus and Squid Dishes
Octopuses and squids are both boneless with tentacles. Another common trait they share is their “deliciousness.” But how do they pair with beer? Let’s find out.
Grilled Octopus: Session IPA
While a regular IPA may overpower a grilled octopus, a Session IPA pairs well with the sea creature. A Session IPA is a low-alcohol India Pale Ale with less hop bitterness. This subtle flavor profile contrasts nicely with the complex flavor profile of the octopus. The low alcohol content also means you can drink more without getting drunk.
Fried Calamari: Pilsner
Calamari is a dish made from fried squid rings. A crunchy dish like this needs a crisp and refreshing pallet cleanser. The refreshing taste of a pilsner cuts through the dryness of fried calamari. A cold pils adds acidity to the flavor profile of the fried squid rings.
Beer Pairings for Shellfish Dishes
Now let’s look at how different shellfishes pair with beer:
Scallops: American IPA and German-style Hefeweizen
Scallops have a sweet and briny taste profile. Like crabs and lobsters, scallops need a beer that can offset the sweetness with hoppy bitterness.
One beer that accomplishes this feat quite well is the American IPA. The bitter notes from this pale ale balance quite well with the sweetness of scallops.
Another beer style that pairs well with scallops is the German-style Hefeweizen. The fruity flavor of this beer style cuts through the natural sweetness of scallops.
Oysters: Stouts and Sours
Oysters and scallops have similar flavor profiles. And like scallops, you’d be forgiven to think that an IPA is the best companion for an oyster. While an IPA cuts through the sweetness of oysters, a stout makes a better pairing.
The toasty, malty notes of a stout complement the salty flavor of oysters. While it doesn’t sound like a pair that makes sense, you’ll love it as soon as you try it.
Another unlikely companion of oysters is craft beer sours. The acidic notes in these beers add to oysters’ salty flavor, complementing shellfish’s taste.
Mussels: Belgian-Style Witbier or Other Belgian-Style Beers
Mussels and Belgian Witbier go together like two peas in a pod. One of Belgium’s most celebrated dishes is “Moules-Frites,” which loosely translates to “Mussels and Fries.” And more often than not, this dish is washed down with a Belgian-style ale.
Belgian-style wheat beers are known for their zesty flavor profiles. The citric acidity of the Belgian Witbier compliments the briny flavor of mussels.
Beer Pairing for Shrimp Dishes
Like lobster, shrimp is a versatile food source. You can subject it to different treatments and come up with different dishes. Below are the best beer pairings for various shrimp dishes:
Grilled and Sauteed Shrimp: American Pale Ale
Grilled and sauteed shrimp are heavily spiced with spicy herbs. Such a richly-flavored dish requires a medium-bodied beer that can quiet the spice. One beer style that matches this profile is the American Pale Ale.
The rich malty flavor of the American Pale Ale complements the spicy flavor of grilled or sauteed shrimp. The citric undertones of this beer add to the spicy flavor of the dish, exposing the tongue to a kaleidoscope of different sensations.
Shrimp Cocktail: American IPA
Shrimp dipped in a cocktail sauce has a sweet yet succulent flavor. Such a dish requires a heavily hopped beer to balance the sweetness of the shrimp. American IPAs, especially those made by craft brewers, are strong and hoppy. The bitterness from these beers balances well with the sweet taste of shrimp cocktails.
Spiced Shrimp: Wheat Beer
Only one beer can soothe the heat of spicy shrimp; wheat beer. The creamy texture of the hazy brew balances the harshness of spiced shrimp.
Deep-Fried Shrimp: Pilsner
A heap of deep-fried shrimp requires a super-drinkable beer. And no lager does this job better than a pilsner. This German-style lager contrasts the crunchiness of deep-fried shrimp with a refreshing character and a clean aftertaste.
Beer Pairings for Fish Dishes
Fishes, in general, are delicate in flavor. But how do they pair with various beer styles? Let’s find out.
Salmon: Saison, IPA, or Amber Ale
Salmon has a rich fatty flavor that can combine well with ales. The best match is the Belgian-style Saison. This farmhouse ale is heavily hopped with fruity or spicy flavors. Such a profile complements the fatty nature of salmon.
Another ale that pairs well with salmon is the IPA. The refreshing nature of this beer cleanses the pallet as you prepare for another bite. Amber ales also pair well with salmon dishes.
Gose is a pale sour that’s flavored with salt and coriander. Swordfish, on the other hand, has subtle flavors. The Gose and swordfish pairing works so well because the beer provides the elements the fish lacks. The blandness of the swordfish is contrasted by the spicy nature of the German sour.
Tuna: Wheat Beer
Like swordfish, tuna meat is lacking in terms of flavor. A heavily hopped wheat beer is a good pairing for tuna dishes. The spicy character of the hazy beer contrasts well with the blandness of the fish.
Chowders and Soups: Stouts and Porters
Chowders and soups are the perfect remedies for a cold day. They need a beer style that is also meant for the cold seasons. Porters and stouts combine well with seafood chowders and soups. The creamy character of these soups complements the malty and chocolate flavor of stouts and porters.
From this article, you can appreciate that lagers make the best palate cleansers. IPAs complement dishes with delicate flavor profiles, and stouts reinforce strong flavors. It’s essential you know that these are only suggestions. You can experiment with different seafood and beer pairings to discover new flavor combinations.
Do you agree with our beer and seafood pairings? Express your opinions in the comment section below.