Pairings | Ale

Christmas pairings with port, sherry and madeira

Christmas pairings with port, sherry and madeira

You may well have given a fair amount of thought by now to what you’ll be drinking with your turkey or goose and have set treasured bottles of Bordeaux or Burgundy aside for the main Christmas meal. But what about all the other occasions over the festive period which these days tends to stretch a good 10 days into the early New Year?

A beer dinner in the heart of Paris shows how the French are taking to craft beer

A beer dinner in the heart of Paris shows how the French are taking to craft beer

Lotte Peplow sees American craft brewers persuade the French that wine is not the only thing to drink with a meal ....

Seamus Mullen's kale salad with apple, toasted pecans and yoghurt and dill vinaigrette

Seamus Mullen's kale salad with apple, toasted pecans and yoghurt and dill vinaigrette

I've never really 'got' kale but this delicious salad would convert anybody. AND it's healthy too!

Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale

Guacamole, salsa and a citrussy pale ale

Last Friday night Helen, our designer, and I had a bit of a works outing to our colleague Monica Shaw's who works on the nuts and bolts of the website. She cooked up an amazing Mexican feast of which this was just one element but it was striking how much better the whole meal went with beer than with wine.

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

Thomasina Miers' Mole Amarillo

To celebrate Day of the Dead - or maybe even Bonfire Night - here's a fabulous warming spicy Mexican stew for 10 from Thomasina Miers' Wahaca: Mexican food at Home.

Pulled pork roll and a smoked Belgian-style pale ale

Pulled pork roll and a smoked Belgian-style pale ale

As those of you who follow our Facebook page may have spotted I was in France last week so you might expect a pairing with a wine from Languedoc. But no: the outstanding match, as with the previous week, was with a beer - and a rather unusual one at that . . .

Sierra Nevada chicken

Sierra Nevada chicken

A bit of a blast from the past, this. It comes from An Appetite for Ale, the beer and food book I wrote with my son Will at the time he owned a pub, the Marquess Tavern back in 2007.

Win a luxurious break for two at award-winning Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa

Win a luxurious break for two at award-winning Ragdale Hall Health Hydro and Thermal Spa

We know you lot like a bit of pampering so we’ve persuaded the lovely people at Ragdale Hall to offer a fabulous spa break for two worth £476 at their award-winning Health Hydro and Thermal Spa in Leicestershire. THIS COMPETITION IS NOW CLOSED.

15 Easter wine pairings to learn by heart

15 Easter wine pairings to learn by heart

As with my previous ‘learn by heart’ posts this is simply a quick way to remember great food and wine pairings at a busy time of year. There are of course other possibilities to which the links will guide you.

Top wine and beer matches for game

Top wine and beer matches for game

We Brits have always had a reputation for liking our wines old and our game high but times have changed. Today the key factor in matching game tends to be not how ‘gamey’ it is but how it’s cooked and what is served with it.

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Couscous royale and 2011 Chateau Romanin Les Baux de Provence

Last week we returned to one of our much-loved haunts, Arles, and ate our way round some of our favourite restaurants (the ones that weren’t closed as a number mysteriously seemed to be at what you’d think was still peak holiday season).

Pork pie and pale ale

Pork pie and pale ale

Today, being St George’s Day, what other pairing could I offer you but a classic British dish with a classic British beer?

Which beers are best for Burns’ Night?

Which beers are best for Burns’ Night?

Although we naturally think of drinking whisky on Burns’ Night, beer is just as appropriate a pairing, especially for haggis. And with Scottish beers like Brewdog and Innis & Gunn in wide distribution it’s not too hard to find a homegrown one.

Roast suckling pig and amber ale

Roast suckling pig and amber ale

I realise this is not the first time I’ve written about the virtues of roast pork and beer but it’s such a great match (and such an underrated one) that I keep on coming back to it. This time I came across it in a splendid northern French tavern called Le Bruegel in Bergues, the highlight of what was otherwise a rather cold, miserable journey on our way back to England last week.

Big Drop Brewing 0.5% Pale Ale

Big Drop Brewing 0.5% Pale Ale

I’ve been focussing quite a lot on alcohol-free drinks recently so I headed along to the Mindful Drinking festival in Spitalfields yesterday where I discovered this brilliant range of low alcohol (0.5%) beers.

Vegetable Thali and Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale

Vegetable Thali and Flying Dog Tire Bite Golden Ale

Where I live in Bristol we’re lucky to have an unusually good Indian restaurant called Thali Café, that sells sophisticated street food which you can take away in your own tiffin box. I’m addicted to the vegetable-based ‘Dairy Free Tiffin’ which is light, fresh and aromatic and was wondering what to drink with it when I picked up a bottle of Tire Bite Golden Ale from the excellent Flying Dog brewery.

Bacon, Isle of Mull cheddar and Thornbridge beer bread rolls

Bacon, Isle of Mull cheddar and Thornbridge beer bread rolls

I don't normally run commercial recipes but this comes from an enterprising new cookbook from a brewery I really like called Thornbridge with recipes from chef Richard Smith.

What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes

What to drink with Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's veggie recipes

If you’re used to choosing wine - or other drinks - to match with meat or fish you may be flummoxed when it comes to chosing one for vegetarian friends. But as I explain in my Guardian column today it’s a question of finding out how the wine is made - and in particular whether any animal-based products have been used in the fining process.

Wines to pair with fennel

Fennel is one of the handful of vegetables that can influence a main course pairing - almost always for the better. Its aniseed flavour seems to have a pronounced affinity with many wines, especially whites. Here are some suggested matches with recipes that two British chefs have published this weekend - Gordon Ramsay in the Times and Skye Gyngell in the Independent on Sunday.

Duck and waffle and saison beer

Duck and waffle and saison beer

Unusually this week’s match is speculative - an imagined pairing rather than an actual one.

Does craft beer suit posh food?

Does craft beer suit posh food?

Despite many attempts to introduce beer lists in Michelin-starred restaurants, customers still don’t seem to want to drink it on a special occasion. Are they misguided or are restaurateurs wimping out?

Mushroom and Mustard soup

Mushroom and Mustard soup

With the country blanketed by snow what else can you think of but soup? A favourite recipe from my book An Appetite for Ale that makes a great pairing with a dark, Trappist beer. You can decide how creamy you want it - my preference is to add just a dash to the soup then swirl a little in each bowl to decorate.

Coffee-infused pale ale and jalapeno cornbread

Coffee-infused pale ale and jalapeno cornbread

I’ve been making a policy recently of ordering good craft beer when it’s on offer instead of wine which is how I came across this stellar pairing at the newly opened Caravan restaurant in Kings Cross. (Terrific - I’ll tell you more shortly.)

5 great beer pairings for roast turkey

5 great beer pairings for roast turkey

Even those who normally drink beer feel the need to put a bottle of red wine on the table at Christmas* but beer is actually just as good, if not a better accompaniment for turkey.

Tuscan-style sausages and beans with Montepulciano

Tuscan-style sausages and beans with Montepulciano

It’s been so busy the last few weeks that good pairings have been coming thick and fast but this was a great match I enjoyed at an offbeat new occasional restaurant which was launched by food and wine writer Marc Millon in Topsham, Devon the other day. (He’s also contributed a couple of pieces to this site including this wonderful piece about Bagna Cauda)

Barbecued Chicken with Yellow Mustard Sauce

Barbecued Chicken with Yellow Mustard Sauce

If you fancy a proper US-style barbecue this weekend try this brilliantly easy recipe from chef Brad McDonald's book Deep South: New Southern Cooking

5 of the best food pairings for Australian Shiraz

5 of the best food pairings for Australian Shiraz

Shiraz, like every other wine, varies in style depending on its price, age and region of origin but you can be pretty sure when it comes to matching Australian shiraz we’re talking about a full-bodied red.

Marks & Spencer Apple, Pear and Brussel Sprout Juice

Marks & Spencer Apple, Pear and Brussel Sprout Juice

The mere idea of sprout juice may be enough to send the sprout-haters among you running for cover but I have to say I think Marks & Spencer is onto a winner here.

Steak and ale pie and horseradish mash with Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994

Steak and ale pie and horseradish mash with Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994

The great thing about going to old country pubs is that they tend to have wines you can’t find anywhere else - or certainly not at the price. Like the bottle of Domaine Tempier Bandol 1994 we found at the Nobody Inn in Doddiscombleigh in Devon at the weekend.

Summer ale cup

Summer ale cup

A cross between a Pimm’s and a shandy which I concocted a few year's ago for my son Will’s and my book An Appetite for Ale. You'll obviously need to play around with the proportions depending on the fruit cup and the beer you use

Chicken caesar salad and blonde ale

Chicken caesar salad and blonde ale

It’s so automatic to think of a wine match these days that one sometimes overlooks the fact that a beer will work just as well, if not better. So it is with that great restaurant favourite, chicken caesar salad.

What to drink with Coronation chicken?

What to drink with Coronation chicken?

Coronation chicken has been given a new lease of life by the Diamond Jubilee celebrations but what wine - or beer - should you pair with it?

Six of the best matches for cheddar cheese

Six of the best matches for cheddar cheese

As with most cheeses the ideal pairing for cheddar depends how mature it is. A mild to medium block cheddar is going to be a lot easier to match (and in most cheeselovers’ eyes a lot less interesting) than a tangy cloth-bound cheddar of 18 months or more.

How Thanksgiving sides can inspire your wine pairing

How Thanksgiving sides can inspire your wine pairing

Although we all talk turkey at Thanksgiving, in fact it’s the sides that tend to steal the show. Finding a wine that can cope with them all is never easy but you may just find your favourite side or dressing can inspire your choice.

Eggs Royale and St Austell Clouded Yellow wheat beer

Eggs Royale and St Austell Clouded Yellow wheat beer

I haven’t had a beer as match of the week for a while but with the British Guild of Beer Writers dinner and Dea Latis Beer and Breakfast tasting last week I could hardly have chosen anything else.

Toast Ale

Toast Ale

Sometimes a good story is all it takes to make you buy a bottle and who could resist a beer that makes use of food waste - unused bread in the case of Toast?

Which beer pairs best with the Thanksgiving feast? What the experts say

Which beer pairs best with the Thanksgiving feast? What the experts say

You’ve probably got your Thanksgiving wine sorted but what about a beer? If you don’t drink it yourself it may not be something you've given much thought to but in fact beer makes just as good a partner for the myriad different flavours of the typical Thanksgiving feast as wine.

Some top beer and wine pairings for Cheshire cheese

Some top beer and wine pairings for Cheshire cheese

I’ve recently had the chance to taste through a range of wines and beers with Cheshire - Appleby’s Cheshire to be exact - so the hits and misses are fresh in my mind. As you probably know it’s a British territorial cheese with a crumbly texture and mellow flavour but quite a firm bite.

Craft beer and BBQ

Craft beer and BBQ

Although I regularly recommend wines to pair with barbecue - most recently in my Guardian column - I’m actually an equal fan of beer. In fact I think many types of barbecue work better with it.

Two new British beers

Two new British beers

Two for the price of one today with a pair of new British beers that have come my way - both with a good story behind them

Steak pie and strong ale

Steak pie and strong ale

There’s a distinct nip in the air this week that makes makes me suddenly feel much less like eating summery food. Last night we went round to friends and shared some absolutely awesome steak pies they’d brought back from a butcher called Murray Mitchell in St Andrews in Scotland (they will send them by mail order in the UK apparently if you ring them on 01334 474465).

Haggis and Westmalle Dubbel

Haggis and Westmalle Dubbel

If you’re going to or hosting a Burns’ Night dinner tonight and want to create a bit of a stir, crack open a bottle of Westmalle Dubbel, a classic Belgian Trappist ale that is still made by monks at the monastery of Westmalle. You could of course drink a Scottish beer - there are plenty of good ones - but haggis to my mind needs a bit of roundness, sweetness and strength, qualities you find more often in Belgian than British beers.

5 wine and beer pairings for shepherd’s pie

5 wine and beer pairings for shepherd’s pie

You’ll always find people argue about shepherd’s pie but in my view it should be made with lamb rather than beef (that’s cottage pie) and with very little, if any tomato - apart from maybe a dash of ketchup for sweetness.

5 great matches for IPA

5 great matches for IPA

Of course it depends what type of IPA you're talking about. A relatively light style will lead you in a different direction from a huge, hoppy double IPA, but these I think would be my top five . . .

Which wine (or beer) to pair with roast beef

Which wine (or beer) to pair with roast beef

Roast beef has the virtue of being one of the easiest dishes to match with wine. You can really drink any medium- to full-bodied red you enjoy. There are a couple of points to bear in mind, however, which might affect the style of wine you choose.

Gladstone Pinot Noir and hare royale

Gladstone Pinot Noir and hare royale

My match of the week has to include Gladstone Pinot Noir from Wairarapa in New Zealand which featured in two unexpectedly good pairings at two different restaurants.

8 great wine (and other) matches for roast chicken

8 great wine (and other) matches for roast chicken

Roast chicken. Possibly everyone’s favourite Sunday roast. It can take a red or a white wine so the key thing to focus on is what flavourings - or stuffing - you put with it and the sides you serve.

Salmon burgers with goats cheese and sundried tomatoes

Salmon burgers with goats cheese and sundried tomatoes

Burgers don't have to be beefy as these delicious salmon burgers from my book An Appetite for Ale prove, inspired by browsing the aisles of the Wholefoods market in Denver during the Great American Beer Festival a few years back!

Spiced parsnip soup with Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted

Spiced parsnip soup with Harviestoun Bitter and Twisted

Although I’ve tasted some good wines this week it’s beer that has provided the highlights. The Magic Rock Rapture amber ale I drank at The Pint Shop in Cambridge with their awesome beer brined chicken was pretty good but it’s pipped into the ‘drink of the week’ slot by this pairing at The Hole in the Wall in Little Wilbraham

Chilli con carne and American brown ale

Chilli con carne and American brown ale

If you’re lighting a few fireworks for the kids (or yourselves, of course . . . ) tonight and hanging round in the cold you’ll need some warming food and a good chilli hits the spot perfectly

Runaway American Brown Ale and chicken poutine

Runaway American Brown Ale and chicken poutine

Last week I was in Manchester for lunch at the new Hawksmoor, a restaurant I can hardly review given it’s one of my son Will’s.

Strong ale and haggis

Strong ale and haggis

This week’s match is a predictive one rather than one I’ve recently experienced as I’ve been invited to a Burn’s Night dinner tomorrow night by the quirky Brewdog brewery and don’t yet know what the outcome will be.

Cecina, potato and kale soup and Chateau Montus Madiran

Cecina, potato and kale soup and Chateau Montus Madiran

The idea of matching a soup with a full-bodied south-western French red wine might seem bizarre but it proved a surprisingly good pairing.

What to drink with chicken wings (and your other Superbowl snacks)

What to drink with chicken wings (and your other Superbowl snacks)

Let’s face it a well-honed wine pairing probably isn’t top priority on Superbowl night but there’s no reason why you can’t sip something delicious as you’re nervously nibbling your chicken wings (or your nails).

Moncada Brewery Notting Hill Red

Moncada Brewery Notting Hill Red

This week I took part in a fun new way of discovering beer: Beer Bods live Twitter tastings and this was the beer we tried this week.

Lamb tagine with a chorizo-infused beer

Lamb tagine with a chorizo-infused beer

It’s unusual for me to have two consecutive beer pairings as my match of the week but not surprising given that this week’s comes from an excellent beer dinner at The Bull, Highgate to mark the launch of Canadian beer and food expert Stephen Beaumont’s Beer and Food Companion

6 of the best pairings for chilli con carne

6 of the best pairings for chilli con carne

Like many popular dishes chilli con carne has many different versions - some mild and child-friendly, others much more spicy and assertive and often a little smokey.

 The best wine pairings for partridge

The best wine pairings for partridge

I sometimes think partridge is my favourite game bird - less full-on and ‘gamey’ than pheasant, more subtle and delicate than chicken. But what to drink with it?

Nick Strangeway's 'Disco Badger'

Nick Strangeway's 'Disco Badger'

Despite the naff name I love the sound of this refreshing orangey beer cocktail created by legendary mixologist Nick Strangeway for Badger Ales. Great presentation too!

The Durham Brewery White Stout

The Durham Brewery White Stout

I had a conversation on Twitter before Christmas with Elly from The Durham Brewery about whether there was a perfect beer for Christmas pudding.

Roast lamb with a Douro red

Roast lamb with a Douro red

Yesterday we had the family round for lunch and served a 2002 Douro red from Portugal with the main course of spice-crusted roast lamb with garlic and rosemary, roast potatoes (my youngest son managed to put away 15 but remains, annoyingly, as skinny as a rake) and in-season purple sprouting broccoli.

Smørrebrød and a Sonoma County Sylvaner

Smørrebrød and a Sonoma County Sylvaner

I’ll be focussing on some of the more conventional wine pairings I came across during my recent visit to Napa and Sonoma later this week but here’s a really off-the-wall match I encountered in San Francisco

Chocolate and roasted Oolong tea

Chocolate and roasted Oolong tea

The most interesting meal I had last week was undoubtedly at Viajante, an innovative new restaurant in what used to be Bethnal Green town hall. You can see my full review on decanter.com but I just wanted to write a bit more about the pairings.

Six of the best wine (and other) pairings with chicken pie

Six of the best wine (and other) pairings with chicken pie

Chicken pie - or chicken pot pie - must be one of everyone’s favourite meals but what sort of drink goes with it best? Wine, beer or cider?

6 of the best matches for fish and chips

6 of the best matches for fish and chips

Now that fish and chips can found in every posh fish restaurant, wine has become as popular a pairing as a nice cup of builders' tea (good though that is). But which one?

Ideas for a beer and game menu

I've been invited to a game dinner at Brown's hotel in Mayfair next week at which every course is matched with a beer or a perry. I can't make it but thought you'd be interested in the pairings (my notes in italics):

Couscous and Languedoc rosé

Couscous and Languedoc rosé

It's funny how your attitude to food and wine matching changes when you visit a wine-producing area like the Languedoc which is where I've been for the past few days. You tend to drink the local wine because it's what the locals drink. It may not be the best match but it doesn't really matter, particularly at lunchtime when you want something light.

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