A rough guide to serving beer with your Christmas dinner

Beerista: While there’s no hard and fast rules to pairing food and beer, here are some tips to make the most of the best meal of the year

Photo of a multi generation family having a celebratory toast over  Thanksgiving dining table, during dinner

Photo of a multi generation family having a celebratory toast over Thanksgiving dining table, during dinner

 

The easiest way to go about pairing beer with your Christmas dinner is to think about matching intensities. If you’re going for a light starter, serve it with something light. Fionnabhair Irish Wit by White Hag is refreshing with orange and subtle spice flavour and will work with smoked salmon or melon.

A good quality craft lager – such as Larkins Helles or Boyne Brewhouse’s Vienna Lager – is also a nice way to begin proceedings and will pair with a starter salad and is good to have around for pre-feast drinks. A fruity session IPA such as Rascals Happy Days has a little more hop character but will also complement a light starter. Dial up the presentation for the day that’s in it and serve in a Champagne flute.

For the main event, you need a beer that has enough complexity and body to be able to stand up to – and interplay with – the huge array of flavours of Christmas dinner. “When in doubt, go Belgian,” is the beer and food pairing advice of Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer.

Kinnegar’s 5 per cent Rustbucket is a light option for dinner
Kinnegar’s 5 per cent Rustbucket is a light option for dinner

A big, malty Belgian Dubbel – try Chimay or Westmalle – are delicious, complex beers and are perfect for Christmas dinner. Many Irish breweries have Belgian-style beers such as Boyne Brewery’s Dubbel or Mescan’s Tripel, which is a firm favourite of mine. Serve in a stemmed tulip glass or wine glass.

A slightly lighter option for dinner is Kinnegar’s 5 per cent Rustbucket, a rye ale with hints of spices and malt. Rye River’s Dec’s Brown Ale will also work on the day – or with a turkey sandwich later on. For dessert go for the black stuff – and there are plenty on the shelves now, such as O’Hara’s Lean Follain, Kinnegar’s Flying Saucer, or Dot Brewing has many barrel-aged specials. If you want something with a little Christmas factor try White Hag’s Yule Christmas Ale. For a cheese plate, a dry, Brut IPA works well or a Saison, with all its lovely earthy goodness, is a winner. @ITbeerista beerista@irishtimes.com

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