No holiday menu is complete without holiday beer. The heavy meals and decadent desserts can make your customers feel festive, but nothing elevates the Christmas cheer like pouring a cold one. Drinking beer during the holidays is a time-honored tradition, and knowing which beers pair best with your restaurant’s holiday fare can make the experience even more delightful.
If you’re wondering what kinds of beer will pair best with your restaurant’s holiday menu, you’re in the right place. In this guide, we’ll unwrap the secrets of holiday beer pairings to make all your customers merry and bright. Let’s dive in!
When your customers first arrive, make them feel welcome with a nice beer aperitif. It’s a good idea to have a variety of aperitif options on the menu, including beers, so that every customer can find something they like. A lighter beer will help cleanse the palette without making anyone feel too full before the feasting begins. Plus, offering aperitifs is a great way to keep customers satisfied while they wait for their main courses.
For the first beer of the night, we recommend a light-bodied Czech or German pilsner. These styles of beer are just bitter enough to prevent drinking them too quickly, and their crisp flavor won’t leave a lingering taste.
Pairing Holiday Beer with Cheese
The charcuterie board is a classic appetizer, offering a variety of flavors for a variety of customer preferences. Depending on the types of cheeses you’re serving, you’ll want to ensure you have a holiday beer on hand that complements them.
For Fresh Cheese
If you’re serving softer cheeses, pair them with a light German beer. A nice hefeweizen or pilsner will go hand and hand with younger cheeses, offering a clean taste that doesn’t detract from the smooth texture of the cheese.
For Aged Cheese
Aged cheeses have a distinct, strong flavor, requiring a drier beer that allows that signature taste to cut through. For this type of cheese, try an IPA. The intense hop flavor of an IPA makes it a perfect match for hard cheese like cheddar or gouda.
For Washed Rind Cheese
Washed rind cheeses are notoriously tangy (and stinky), and if you serve them you’ll need a beer that can balance it out. For these stinky cheeses, we recommend a Belgian ale. Their yeasty, slightly sour flavor matches the taste of washed rind cheese while their sweet, bready notes help calm the stink down.
Pairing Beer with Ham
A Christmas ham is salty and fatty, making it a perfect winter meat. When pairing a holiday beer with it, you’ll want to ensure the beer can help cut through the extra sodium while enhancing the flavors of the ham. For this, we recommend a lighter beer such as a lager or hefeweizen. These beers will bring out the smoky, glazy flavor of the ham while cutting through the salt content.
Pairing Beer with Turkey
The comforting flavors of a delicious, roasted turkey make it a holiday favorite. When you incorporate stuffing or cranberry sauce, it makes the dish all the more filling. When paired with an Amber ale, a slight fruitiness is added into the mix and can help round out all the different flavors. Marzen lagers are also a solid choice for turkey, bringing a slightly tart taste to the dish.
Pairing Beer with Roast Beef
Roast beef is a robust meat with a succulent profile, so consider opting for a malty brown ale or a robust porter. These beer styles bring a depth of flavor that harmonizes with the richness of the roast beef. The caramel and toasty notes in a brown ale, or the dark, chocolatey undertones in a porter, can accentuate the meat’s savory qualities without overpowering its natural taste.
Pairing Holiday Beer with Dessert
When it comes to dessert, you may not typically think of beer as a good pairing. However, with the right match, you can create a delightful end to your holiday dinner service. If your customers are wondering which beer to order with their desserts, here are some suggestions that are sure to elevate your offerings.
For Chocolate Desserts
If you’re serving chocolate cakes or fudge, you’ll need a beer that can complement its richness. Try a dark malt or a stout – the creamy texture will help wash the chocolate down without hiding the chocolate flavor.
For Sugar Cookies
Arguably Santa’s favorite cookie, sugar cookies are a Christmas staple. These cookies are light, so try pairing them with a blonde ale to avoid overpowering their flavor.
Gingerbread and ginger cookies are sweet and earthy, thanks to the signature ginger flavor. A breakfast stout or coffee-flavored beer is a great match for ginger sweets.
Stuever & Sons Wish You Lots of Holiday Beer and Holiday Cheer
We hope this holiday beer pairing guide will enhance the festive atmosphere at your restaurant this holiday season. At Stuever & Sons, we love any excuse to try a new brew, and we hope we’ve inspired you to get creative and introduce some new beer flavors to your patrons this winter. With the right beer, you can impress your customers with a delicious holiday feast they’ll remember for years to come. Cheers to the season, and happy holidays!