Christmas Dinner Beer and Food Pairing

Making your meal merrier with malted beverages

Many chose to open a large meal with a light dish. If you plan garden greens and vinaigrette dressing, for instance, look for a thirst-quenchingly tart and light-bodied, Berliner Weiss to pour alongside it. Similarly at home with a salad is the relatively rare Belgian gueuze, another effervescent brew with hints of citrus and rhubarb that finishes tart and dry.

Should your first course consist of fresh fruit or crustaceans (shrimp, prawns, or lobster), consider serving witbier (Flemish for “white” beer, the sweeter and more complex Belgian cousin to German Weissbier, also known as bière blanche). Spicy citrus notes in the aroma and flavor, together with its mildly sweet, malty palate, would safely and satisfyingly join such a delicate first course.

Main Course

Succulent veal pairs well with a subtly sweet, pale golden cream ale; while slightly more gamy lamb would be done more justice by a bronze, generously malted, German Altbier (“old beer”). India Pale Ales (aggressively hopped pale ales often called IPAs) are perfect foils for roast beef and brisket. It’s a virtual requirement that hearty steak dinners be accompanied by a robust dark beer in the style of porter, stout, or Schwarzbier (black beer). Sometimes opaque and often dry, these roasty flavored brews are also perfect company for the charred and smoky taste when your beefsteak is broiled or barbecued. The mildly smoky character of a German Steinbier (“stone beer”) or a semi-sweet and chocolaty Munich Dunkel (dark lager) would nicely suit a liberally glazed ham shank. If you choose to roast a bird this year, please consult my suggestions for complementary beers in my article about Thanksgiving beer pairing.

When seafood is on your menu, be sure to draw a mental line between lobster, crab, shrimp, or whitefish and the more assertive mollusks (clams, mussels, and oysters), salmon, or herring. For the more delicate former, a crisp, dry, golden lager such as a Pilsner should be offered; for the flavorful latter, a well-balanced pale ale is a more appropriate choice. If the salmon or herring are smoked, and you’re in a daring mood, try serving them with a German Rauchbier (smoked beer); but be forewarned that these acrid beers may be considered too austere by some. It bears noting that in England oysters and dry stout are considered a classic culinary combination.

Dessert Course

Christmas desserts run the gamut, but rich and/or creamy fruit or chocolate creations seem to be the order of the day. Sweeter, heavier beers are best suited to such concoctions. “Estery” — fruity and flowery — pale strong ales such as Belgian Tripels work well with fruity treats. So would spicy Belgian strong golden ales (occasionally labeled grand cru and spiced with coriander and Curaçao oranges). The perfect matches for chocolate baked goods are darker, roastier porters and stouts.

Christmas Candy

A word for those who pass candy at the end of a holiday meal: Explore the world of well-aged Belgian fruit-infused lambics. These are tart and sparkling beers to which macerated fruit (most often cherry or raspberry) has been added during fermentation. If these prove impossible to find, German Doppelbocks (dark, malty brews of considerable strength 6 – 8%), or rich Scotch ales (sweet and viscous beers with a mildly smoky backdrop) are full flavored “malternatives.”

A Word about Wassail

In the realm of tradition, wassail is punch, a concoction made of strong ale laden with spices, sugar, and floating pieces of fruit -such as roasted crab apple. To most modern brewers, however, wassail is a special winter beer to which has been added any number of spices or flavorings. These often include cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, ginger, vanilla, anise, and even essence of spruce, among others. You may drink these wassails chilled, but serving them slightly warmed not only brings out more of their spicy flavor, it can also bring a glow to your cheeks.

Best Italian Beers – Craft Breweries In Italy

Top Italian Ales: Artisan Brewers and Bottled Beer from Italy

Think of Italian drinks and you think of sparkling Prosecco (Italy’s ‘champagne’), fine wines like Chianti and Brunello, or sunny liqueurs such as Limoncello. You certainly don’t think of beer. However, Italian beer is on the up: a growing band of craft brewers in Italy are producing the sort of delicious and inventive ales of which mama (and certainly papa) could be proud. In fact in his book World’s Best Beers (pub. Jacqui Small, £25) Ben McFarland declares that: ‘of all the up-and-coming brewing nations in the world, Italy is the one to watch’.

Le Baladin Brewery – Musical Yeast

Traditionally Italians have only really drunk beer with pizza, but since the 1990s there has been a growing appreciation of the sort of artisan beers that deserve to be savoured by themselves. There are now around 150 microbreweries and brewpubs in Italy. Perhaps the best known is Le Baladin, which McFarland features in World’s Best Beers. Baladin beers are produced in the hills of Piedmont – and they’re adventurous brews, sometimes made with spices, chocolate, coffee beans – and even myrrh.

Teo Musso, of Baladin, is a creative character – even rather eccentrically attaching headphones to the fermenting vessels so as to play music to the growing yeast. Most of Baladin’s beers are bottled and include Xyauyu (13%), a dark and powerful ‘oxidized’ ale that McFarland says has the character of wine; Super Baladin (8%) a beer that’s based on a 9th-century Belgian recipe, and Nora – an unusual beer that is made with ginger root and myrrh.

Beer with Chestnuts, Cocoa Beans – even Wormwood

But Baladin isn’t the only Italian brewer worthy of note. McFarland highlights over 30 different Italian beers, produced by brewers from Milan down to Rome. They offer an extraordinary variety of flavours and will often work with local producers to source local – sometimes unusual – ingredients, bringing an experimental zing to the industry. There’s Torbata, a bottle-conditioned ‘smoked ale’ that’s made at the Almond 22 brewery in Abruzzi and flavoured with chestnut honey, orange peel and cane sugar; Birolla, a delicious sounding dark ale from Il Birrificio di Como in Lombardy, made with roasted chestnuts and honey from local chestnut and thorn trees; Chocarrubica, from Grado Plato in Piedmont, a stout flavoured with cocoa beans from Sicily, and Chiostro, a Belgian-style beer made at Piccolo brewery in Liguria, that is spiced with wormwood – the ingredient that was famously used in absinthe and led to it being dubbed the ‘green fairy’.

Blueberry Beer

Amongst the other Italian beers that McFarland features are Montegioco Draco, a potent barley wine that’s brewed with fresh blueberries; Noscia, a pale ale containing honey and a hint of dried apricot, and Scires, an intense dark ale from Lombardy made with cherries. With so much variety, and so many acclaimed brews, it seems that Italian beer is well and truly on the map. Cin cin!

We have expanded!

Come in to see the Bistro more than doubled in size!!! Lights, Stage, Bathrooms…HUGE DANCE FLOOR!! New Kitchen…did I say HUGE DANCE FLOOR?? Well, it is. Lots of room now to have fun and even reserve space for a private party!

And we have 8 beers on tap!! Check it out:

  • Dry Dock Hop Abomination
  • Dry Dock Apricot Blonde
  • Coors Light
  • Odells 90 Shilling
  • Stella Artois
  • Blue Moon
  • Angry Orchard Hard Cider
  • Great Divide Titan IPA
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