Gastropub Food to Pair with Beer

A former professional food critic discusses the best gastropub food to pair with beer of all kinds.

Gastropub Food to Pair with Beer

Gastropubs are one of the hottest trends in the food industry, and while the trend may be slowing down slightly, the truth is that there are still tons of new gastropubs cropping up throughout the country

As a former food critic, I quickly learned that gastropub food doesn't always mesh well with the beers that they are supposed to help support. In fact, sometimes, there are menu items that really don't work out well with many beers at all. 

If you want to taste the best of both worlds, it's important to learn which gastropub food to pair with beer — and which beers work the best for each dish. Here are my favorite gastropub beer pairings; may they serve you well. 

"Buffalo-Style" Wings

"Buffalo-Style" Wings

Sauce-slathered or dry-rubbed, one of the most common gastropub foods to pair with beer are wings. This is also true of artisan gastropub wings which involve  sauce flavors like "Sriracha-Teriyaki" or "Miso-Mango." 

There's a good reason why wings are so popular with gastropub clients. Sauce-dipped wings work beautifully with beer. That's actually why Buffalo wings were first invented and sold at a bar. 

Almost any artisan or mainstream beer will pair well with gastropub wings. Coors? Absolutely works well with most wings. A light shandy from a microbrewery I've never heard of? It'll still work well. 

The Food Critic's Suggestion: 

If you aren't sure what will pair amazingly well with wings, the best bet is almost always a light beer. Belgian whites, Bocks, and any form of light beer will help cool down tastebuds after sinking your teeth into a spicy mix. 

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Once upon a time, brussels sprouts were considered to be verboten among those who ate at restaurants. Nowadays, they are one of the best gastropub foods to pair with beer thanks to the now-infamous addition of bacon into the mix. 

Brussels sprouts, when done gastropub-style, are creamy and nutty with just a hint of bacon-y flavor. In other words, it's food that's satisfying and mellow in taste. 

Now, there are a number of schools of thought on which beers pair best with this gastropub favorite. It's a pretty big debate in the craft beer scene, too. 

Some believe that a creamy chocolate beer with a little bitterness works best to bring out the earthy-mellow taste. Others love a robust Flanders Red that gives you a shock to your tastebuds. Others love Tripels, even more love light beers. 

The Food Critic's Suggestion:

A good balance for many of the flavors in this dish can be found in Belgian Tripels, as well as Belgian Weisses. I also personally enjoy a pint of Guinness with this dish, primarily because of the creamy flavors in the beer. 

This is one of the best gastropub foods to experiment with, so don't hesitate to order this with a flight of craft beers. 

Flatbreads and Pizzas

Flatbreads and Pizzas

Most gastropubs and bars will have at least one or two flatbreads or pizza pies on their menu. Much like with wings, pizza is one of those universally appealing foods that pairs perfectly with beer regardless of toppings.

Pizzas are one of the few foods that work well with almost every kind of beer, so no matter what you want to drink, you can pair it with beer almost effortlessly. 

Smoky basil-topped pies tend to work well with IPAs and white beers. Meanwhile, strongly flavored garlic flatbreads tend to work best with a robust red or a slightly citrusy beer like Hoegarden. 

The Food Critic's Suggestion:

From experience, the only beers that get iffy with pizza are fruit beers. So, fruit-flavored beers, shandies, and Lambics are probably not your best bet. Strawberries and pizza tend to taste strange together, after all. 

Artisan Fries, Chips, and Popcorn

Artisan Fries, Chips, and Popcorn

Believe it or not, those salty and fried bar bites are some of the best gastropub foods to pair with beer of all kinds. The reason why they're bar bites is because they tend to get people thirsty due to salt content — and also because they taste great with beer. 

These are particularly good with strong beers like IPAs, fruit beers, and chocolate beers, too. So, if you have a taste for beers that tend to be incredibly strong, grabbing some salty foods will definitely be a good option. 

Even so, standard white beers and light beers also can be pretty tasty with them. It's all a matter of personal taste. 

The Food Critic's Suggestion: 

If you want to taste a slice of heaven, pair artisan french fries with a good IPA. It's even better if you order Greek-style fries. 

Also, it's worth noting that everything involving these beer pairings can be applied to fried foods in general, too. Fried chicken, fried oysters, and fried frogs' legs all work well with these rules. 

Ceviches

Ceviches

Ceviches are starting to get their place in the sun among gastropubs that are focused on an international or Latin flavor. A lot of people seem hesitant to get their ceviche on, but they really shouldn't be. It's one of the best gastropub foods to pair with beer — and it's also somewhat traditional to do so. 

The idea of raw fish pairing with beer may seem a little strange to some, but you have to remember that sushi's been paired with Sapporo for decades prior to the ceviche explosion. In South America, beer and ceviche is a classic pairing. 

Traditional ceviche is tart, light, and just ever so slightly sweet. Obviously, having a beer that's too bitter or too strongly flavored can ruin the flavors in the fish. So, it's often best to stick to light, crisp beers like white ales, very light IPAs, light beers, and pilsners. 

The Food Critic's Suggestion:

To a point, this advice is good with any form of seafood. It's best to pair light beer with seafood. Darker-colored beers tend to be very hard on the delicate flavors of raw fish, so it's best to look for a complement.

Oddly enough, fruit beers work incredibly well with ceviche. If you don't believe it, crack open a summer shandy next time you indulge, and you'll see what I mean. 

Steak and Steak-Focused Foods

Steak and Steak-Focused Foods

Steak is one of those foods that is meant to be rich and hearty. It's a manly food, and what can be a manlier way to enjoy a great steak than with a delicious beer at the side. 

Beef, in general, works incredibly well with beer. In fact, most food critics will tell you it's one of the best meats to pair with beer, period. When you ramp that up by talking about one of the best beef cuts out there, it quickly turns into nothing but praise from food lovers. 

Because steaks and steak-centered dishes have such a strong and complex flavor profile, they are one of the best gastropub foods to pair with beer of any kind. This includes (but is not limited to) light beers, dark beers, fruit beers, IPAs, shandies, red beers, lagers, ales, and beer categories who no one can pronounce. 

The Food Critic's Suggestion: 

Two particular beers tend to work phenomenally well with traditional steaks: stouts and IPAs. Guinness is a great pairing for a steak dinner, as are almost all IPAs. 

If you want to feel more gourmet, a proper sour Lambic is a better option and will give you a richer, tarter champagne flavor to enjoy with your steak. 

You really can't go wrong with any style of beer here. 

Curried Dishes

Curried Dishes

Another trend in the gastropub restaurant world involves curries — and beer fans couldn't be happier. Curry is an excellent spice if you love a smoky topping on tacos, or a creamy rice dish. 

Curry is one of the best ingredients in new gastropub menu items, and unfortunately, not many people see curried goods as a gastropub food to pair with beer. If you ask me, there's nothing wrong with enjoying them to their fullest with the right beer. In fact, it's great. 

If you want to go the traditional British route, pairing curries with chocolate stouts or IPAs is a good idea. However, a lot of people (myself included) love lighter, creamier beers with a citrus touch when they eat curry-infused items. 

The Food Critic's Suggestion:

Stick to chocolate stouts, IPAs, and more bitter beers when you eat heavy curries. Light, crisp beers tend to work the best when it comes to seafoods that are topped with a pinch of curry. 

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