Holiday Dinner Beer and Food Pairing Guide

It’s the holiday season, which means it’s time to enjoy the company of our friends and family around the table to break bread and raise some pints. Many of us are quick to grab a bottle of wine to pair with our holiday dinners, but beer truly makes for a versatile pairing that’s sure to please even the pickiest of palates (we know we all have someone like that at our table)!

There’s really no science behind it – it’s all about what you enjoy. But the one rule I follow is to keep the “Three C’s” in mind: complement, cut, and contrast. If you want to highlight certain spices or flavors in a food, pair it with a beer that has some of the same elements to complement. If you want to offset (cut) the heat of a spicy dish, go for a classic American lager. If you want to showcase different notes, use contrasting flavors to do that.

With that in mind, here’s a guide to beer and food pairings for the holiday season with our Winter Favorites Variety Pack.

Boston Lager & Blueberry DIY CheeseBoston Lager: This flavorful beer is great any time of year, but especially when shared with friends and family around the holidays.  Boston Lager’s balance of complex flavors make it a great pairing for a wide variety of foods, but during the holidays we love how the roasted malts add depth to roasted meats like turkey, duck, and lamb. This year we tried something fun and new:  DIY Boston Lager soaked cheese.  It’s a great way to kick off any holiday celebration and surprise your friends with something unique. Want to try it at home? Check out our (fun and easy) recipes.

winter lager brussel sproutsWinter Lager: We’ve been enjoying Winter Lager this time of year since 1989, as it was one of our first seasonal beers.  Bold and rich with a touch of holiday spice, we couldn’t imagine the cold winter without it! The deep maltiness and warming spices of Winter Lager enrich the flavors of a hearty beef stew or mellow the sweetness of desserts like pecan pie. For a tasty side dish, try Brussel sprouts with Winter Lager and bacon.

white ale walnut breadWhite Christmas: For a change of pace from the darker holiday brews, this wheat ale is crisp and light, yet with the familiar warmth of holiday spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and orange peel.  It’s a great pairing with lighter dishes like salad with cranberries and goat cheese, and also compliments desserts like fruit tart or cheesecake.  Its wheat and spice also make it a perfect ingredient in beer bread – like in this recipe for White Ale walnut bread. It’s also an amazing addition to apple pie!

old-fezziwig-ale-bread-pudding--en--cc42fa29-a2a2-4846-84c9-6f74c00343a3Old Fezziwig Ale: We often like to refer to Old Fezziwig as the Christmas cookie of beers, and it’s certainly one of our favorites during the holidays. The combination of rich maltiness with notes of toffee and dark caramel and holiday spice make this beer a great pair with desserts like carrot cake or apple pie or classic side dishes like sweet potatoes and squash.  Check out our recipe for Old Fezziwig Ale bread pudding.

Looking for more cooking with beer recipes for the holidays? Check out the Food and Beer section of our website. From all of us here at Samuel Adams, Happy Holidays!