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Pairing and Cooking with Craft Beer this Holiday Season

December 14, 2023
Beer and the holidays go hand in hand… but what can we do to elevate our pairing and cooking game? We sat down with Kris, the executive chef at our Eccentric Café, to discuss some of his tips for cooking and pairing beer this time of year.

Cooking with Beer

  • Malt-forward beers: When cooking with beer, Chef Kris recommends using darker beers with more malt backbones, like stouts, dark ales, and amber ales. “The malt stands up better to heat, while hops can lose brightness and accentuate bitterness.”
  • Skip the IPAs: Super hoppy beers like IPAs don’t cook well. Their aromatics dissipate, leaving mostly bitterness behind. Save them for pairing.
  • Swap beer for wine: If you have a recipe that calls for red wine, try using an amber or Belgian ale instead. The toasty malt notes work great for stews, glazes, and deglazing pans.

Pairing Beer with Holiday Fare

  • The first rule: drink a beer you want to drink. If you don’t like it, don’t pair it. “I can sit here and suggest pairings ad nauseam, but ultimately, it comes down to, do you think it tastes good together? Then that’s the best pairing for you.”
  • Compliment flavors: think about pairing beers that have similar flavors to the food. Chef Kris recommends complementing flavors in your dishes with the beer you serve.
  • Some examples of holiday pairings:
    • When roasting turkey or duck, go for a malt-forward beer like Amber Ale or Christmas Ale. The caramel and toast of the malt complements the roasted bird.
    • For gamier meats like goose or lamb, try a bourbon barrel-aged beer like Wild One.
    • Nothing beats stout with chocolate desserts.

Enjoy the time and do something special

You’re making a special meal, so choose a special beer.

  • Pour your beer into a glass to enjoy the aromas.
  • Make your meal an event and try something different from what you have every day. This will add to the memories you create.
  • Christmas Ale is a holiday staple for good reason: it’s malt backbones and spice aromas make them both fun and accessible, while still feeling special for the holidays.

Hope everyone has a happy, healthy and safe holiday season. How are you celebrating – with beer? Let us know!

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