So, when looking to pair your chosen meal with beer, herewith a quick recommendation guide……
Light lagers: because they have such a refreshing flavour, they’re ideal for pairing with spicy dishes, but you can pair these beers with just about any type of food – they are the universal companion. Try with chicken wings, salty chips / fries, fast-food like burgers and hot dogs, noodle dishes, salads and fried fish.
Wheat beers: are brewed with a mixture of wheat and barley grains, which gives the beer smoother texture and lighter carbonation than other styles. The wheat itself doesn’t add much flavour, so many brewers add citrus and other fruity flavourings to the beer. Goes well with spicy and tangy food (Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, etc). Also a great companion for fruity desserts and pastries.
India pale ales (IPAs): these are one of the most popular styles of beer and typically have a medium amber colour and very bitter flavour due to the amount of hops used to stabilise the beer for longer shelf-life. To make the bitterness more palatable, many brewers add citrus or herbal tones to the beer. In addition to standard IPAs, there are also double IPAs, which are made with even more hops and have a strong bitter taste. Great with braai meats (ribs, steak, chops), chips and Mexican food.
Amber ales: are characterized by medium mouth-feel and colours that range from amber to a deep reddish-gold. These beers have a strong malt and sweet caramel taste but they are not overpoweringly, with many having a dry and crisp finish which makes them ideal as palate cleansers to rid your mouth of strong flavours. Ideal with lighter meals such as pulled pork, roasts, pizza and fried food.
Dark lagers: are made with roasted malts with a nutty flavour and many have caramel syrup added to slightly sweeten the beer. Lighter lagers have a global following whereas darker lagers where malt is roasted more are popular in Europe where they are an excellent complement to traditional European dishes. Good with aromatic sausage and meats, stews, burgers and pizza.
Brown ales: aren’t as hoppy or bitter as other medium-coloured beers, and instead have hints of chocolate and coffee similar to stouts and porters. Additionally, English varieties of brown ales usually have a dry and nutty taste. Beer experts and craft-brewers tend to turn their noses up at brown ales because they lack the extreme flavours and bitter hoppiness that is fashionable nowadays, but these are tasty beers that are versatile and able to be paired with many different foods. They are especially good with roasted pork, sausages, braai meats, fish and even sushi.
Stouts: are best known for their black colour and dark, silky-smooth consistency and roasted flavour characterised by strong hints of chocolate and coffee. Despite appearance, stouts are not necessarily high in alcohol content or sharp in bitterness and taste and there are many mild stouts. The chocolate flavour and generally low alcohol content make for a perfect pairing for many darker, richer desserts such as cakes, puddings, truffles, and mousses but it also goes well with stronger-flavoured meats such as duck and game, and shellfish such as oysters, crayfish and prawns.