We all know a beer goes down well with a ploughmans and that it’s a great drink to wash down a barbecue but here are 10 more unusual pairings my son Will and I came up with for our beer and food book An Appetite for Ale which should liven up your summer drinking.
Crab and witbier
My own favourite, I confess. Doesn’t matter if the crab is simply dressed or gussied up Thai-style, it works brilliantly though I prefer the Belgian style to the more banana-y Bavarian one with seafood.
Ham and parsley paté with English bitter
Cold ham and English bitter is a classic but this gives the pairing a bit of a twist (and is a great way to use up some leftover ham into the bargain). You simply cut up about 140g of cooked ham (smoked is nice) and whizz it in a food processor until finely chopped. Add an equal amount of unsalted butter and a couple of tablespoons of water, whizz until smooth then season with 1 - 2 tsp of English or Dijon mustard and fold through some finely chopped parsley and chives.
Kebabs and lager
What else do you drink with a kebab? Make your own straight off the barbecue, stuffed into warm pitta bread with lettuce, onion, houmus and a good squeeze of lemon juice and accompany with a good pils or Kolsch.
Prawn, fennel and leek risotto with wheat beer
A summery seafod and herb (dill) risotto which we found went really well with Colomba, a light, aromatic Corsican wheat beer. Would also pair well with a witbier or bière blanche
Joloffe rice and IPA
Joloffe rice is a spicy West-African rice dish that’s a bit like a paella and makes great outdoor eating. I’ve successfully drunk a light English bitter with it but would usually go for an IPA or an amber ale.
Beer-can chicken and amber lager
Yes, you may cook the chicken on a bog standard can of lager but the finished dish deserves something better! With its spicy dry rub and accompanying BBQ sauce or salsa you’ll find it goes really well with a Viennese-style lager or amber ale.
Chicken Caesar salad with a blonde or golden ale
The creamy, tangy sauce makes this much-loved salad a great match with a golden ale or lager such as Duvel or Schiehallion.
Cheesecake and cherry (or raspberry) beer
A fantastic match so long as you top the cheesecake with similar berries to the ones in the beer. (The great thing about matching beer and food is that you can mirror the flavours in the dish. That doesn’t work with wine where the food tends to strip similar flavours out of the wine)
Bakewell tart and raspberry beer
Similar thinking. You pick the fruit flavour - in this case raspberries - out with the beer. If you live in the states there’s a wonderful one called Raspberry Tart from the New Glarus Brewing Co in Wisconsin but Liefman’s Frambozen will do nicely
Blueberry and peach beer jellies
A bit of a cheat as the beer is actually in the dish rather than paired with it but fruit beers make absolutely knock-out jellies that are perfect for summer desserts (find the recipe here.) Try two or three different kinds such as blueberry and peach beer, raspberry and cherry beer and mango and passionfruit beer - a real showstopper. You can find all sorts of different fruit beers at the Utobeer stall in Borough Market. Floris has the widest range of flavours.