How to pair beer and fish


There’s nothing like a traditional lunch ashore. The golden and crispy fried fish fillets, freshly caught and balanced on a mountain of onions and fried potatoes. The aroma of fish mingles with the smell of smoke from the campfire and the stunning view of the wilderness somehow enhances the flavor. I try to have lunch ashore at least once or twice a season. These simple meals become one of the real highlights of my angling year. That is, of course, unless they are mistaken.

A few months ago I was on a walleye fishing trip with a buddy. We had caught our limit then stopped at a small remote island to enjoy the bounty of the day. We fried the walleye in butter and oil and I filled my paper plate, found the perfect sitting strain and was just settling down to enjoy my first crispy bite when I noticed that something was missing. “Hey, do you have a beer?” My buddy nodded, got up from the cooler he was sitting on, reached out and threw a cold can of peach seltzer water! I looked at the can in my hand, then back to my stacked plate, sighed and threw everything into the fire. The moment was wasted.

Important beer

Just like when you eat at a fine dining restaurant that pays a sommelier to make sure you have the right wine, pairing the right beer with your fish can make or break a meal for you. Hops must be balanced, bitterness must be taken into account, and even the origin and region of the beer can be vitally important for a complete enjoyment of the meal. Now you might be thinking I’m overreacting to beer, and I’m not saying you have to be a heavy drinker to enjoy a good fish dish, but if you do, then a little thought and the sentiment should go into your choice of libation. Sadly, there’s no collapsible beer sommelier that you can cram into a backpack or a cooler or fish tank and come back to question whenever you need guidance.

As a beer and fish connoisseur, I’m here to help. Without further ado, here is my list of the best beer and fish combinations to please your taste buds.

Fried fish and blond beer

The Brits got this one right. For the past 1000 years (or something like that) they’ve served the classic combination of fried fish, a side of chips – “chips” if you want to be a fool about it – with a pint of lager. The smooth yet clean and crisp bite of a lager is the perfect thing to cleanse the palate between meaty bites of crispy fried fish. It’s a combo that works with any sort of fried fish concoction.

From catfish po-boys and a Budweiser to fish tacos with a Corona, no matter how you fry your fish or what you do with it, there’s a lager to match. Of course, in England they serve their beer hot, so for an authentic experience you might want to skip the beer in the fridge and instead grab the one that’s been rolling around at the bottom of your empty cooler for a few days.

Smoked fish and porters

Smoking fish properly takes a lot of planning and a lot of preparation. You have to make a brine, soak the fish, set your smoker to the right temperature, then wait patiently, drooling until the fish has reached perfection. It’s not a task that requires something light that comes in cardboard boxes of 30 from a gas station, but rather a beer that has gone through so much thought and preparation in its profile of flavor than in your smoked fish. Your best bet for this is a porter.

Porters are dark and thick as the smoke billows around you as you cook fish and has a tangy flavor that elevates every bite of your favorite smoked fish dish. Additionally, many porters have their own woody flavors with hints of cherry, nut, orange, and apple. If you want to get completely edgy, you can match the wood chips you put in your smoker with the flavor of the porter in your fridge. If you do this, make sure you have a pair of thick-rimmed glasses, some faded Goodwill flannels, and a woolen watch beanie that you can wear even when it’s 90 degrees outside, because you’ll have to to be a full-fledged hipster. to actually remove it.

Chowders and Stouts

There’s nothing better than a rich, hearty fish chowder after a long, cold day on the water. Chowders are rejuvenating dishes that stay with you, filling not only your belly but also your heart with all the warm comforts of home. Keeping that in mind, you want a beer to go with an equally hearty chowder and a stout is the only way to go.

Stouts are thick, heavy beers, with a slight roasted malt sweetness and a bitter bite that balances well and even complements the creamy richness of a good chowder. Plus, many stouts are almost a meal in themselves and when combined with a hearty, filling chowder, you have something that will set you up for the rest of the day. As my grandmother used to say when she made pickerel chowder and served it with Guinness, this is a combo that will “stick to your ribs” and ensure you won’t really need to eat anything for the rest of the day, week, or even the rest of the month.

how to pair beer and fish

Baked fish and beer

There is something inherently simple yet delicious about cooking fish. This is done simply by setting the oven, adding any herb and spice blend to fillets or a whole fish, then tossing it in the oven to cook to perfection. It’s a set-it-and-forget-it type of fish cooking that leaves you plenty of free time after you’ve made the main course to do things like make side dishes, finish that Madden game, and of course, pour a beer.

With so much free time before the meal, you might find that you can actually grab a few beers and have a good burst before you eat. And nothing in the world of beer prepares you better than a nice smooth beer. Ales have a very full-bodied and slightly fruity taste. These are complex, indulgent beers that, when combined with the savory richness of baked fish, somehow manage to enhance the food and bring out the flavors in the meal you don’t expect. weren’t even aware. Just make sure you don’t pre-play too hard beforehand. Too many beers before a meal of baked fish can make the night uncomfortable for you and anyone unfortunate enough to be within splashing range.

Raw fish and Witbier

Whether you’re eating sushi, sashimi or a poke bowl, eating raw fish is enjoying the flavor of fish in its purest form, enhanced with a few simple additional ingredients. Raw fish meals are usually light, fresh and flavorful and to really enjoy them with a beer, your chosen libation must match. I’ve eaten a lot of raw fish dishes and gone through many different types of beer trying to find the perfect beer to complement the dish (a horribly taxing search, I know) and my favorite was the Witbier.

The Witbiers are Belgian and the expression literally translates to “white beer”. This is because, unlike American “wheat beers”, witbier is always cloudy due to the unusual combination of protein and hops used in making the brew. Not to be confused with a hefeweizen which are generally sweeter and have hints of banana and even vanilla, witbiers are light and crisp with hints of citrus and spice that perfectly complement any fish snack or meal. thought you are looking for. Now you might be thinking how odd it is that a Belgian beer goes so well with raw fish dishes that are mostly from tropical regions. However, parts of Belgium are located along the North Sea where locals regularly enjoy meals of raw mussels with mustard and whole raw herring served with onions. Anyone who can handle it better have the right beer for the job.

Bad fish and IPA

We all ate bad fish dishes which we had to endure. Sometimes they come from an overcrowded cheap restaurant, a significant other trying to impress us with their cooking skills, or because we forgot to set a timer or indulged in a few too many beers before we started. to cook.

Anyway, instead of scraping the plate in the trash and starting over (which never goes well with the significant other), I’d suggest pairing those bad fish dishes with a few IPA. These beers are hoppy as hell and heavily flavored with a slightly to very bitter edge that, depending on the brand you choose, is more than capable of completely overpowering, annihilating or burning off any bad bite of fish. Plus, these beers also have a higher than normal alcohol content, which is great because if you drink enough of them, you won’t care how your fish tastes anyway.

fish and beer pairings

Find your perfect partner

None of these combinations of beer and fish are set in stone. These are just the ones I discovered and enjoyed, but I’m sure there are other great beer and fish combos out there. Some beers probably work for grilled fish, poached fish, and even pickled fish. That’s the wonderful thing about fishing, eating fish and drinking beer: it’s very open to interpretation and experimentation.

I encourage everyone to go out and do their own research and find their own perfect beer/fish combinations. Be careful though, especially when serving others. You might mess up enough that your buddy burns all the food and then brings the boat home, leaving you alone on an island with your thoughts and your beers. At least it won’t be peach seltzer.

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