14 National Beer Day Recipes To Pair With Your Favorite Brews
Beer lovers, today is your day! April 7 is National Beer Day, and if you're doing it right, you're celebrating with liberal pours of your favorite brews. To make sure you stay satiated between Pale Ales, Pilsners, and Porters, here are 14 recipes that make for perfect food and beer pairings, whichever your pint of choice. While pairing food with beer may seem like a more casual endeavor, than say, the more established art of pairing food with wine, true beer lovers will argue that how to pair food and beer is a craft in itself. No matter which side of the debate you find yourself on, come National Beer Day, what better way to celebrate than by becoming acquainted with new brews side by side delicious dishes that bring out the flavor of both?
This lineup offers up a range of tastes to be tested against a gamut of beer categories. Beginning with bar snack favorites to wash down with sour ales and finishing off with bold dessert options and equally bold stouts, the roundup makes sure to hit nearly every possible pairings in between. Choose a recipe that complements your favorite beer type, or take a chance on a new brew in honor of the holiday. The list will serve as an introduction to everything you need to know about eating with craft beer. I reached out to my friend and amateur beer connoisseur, Drew Rizzo, for specific recommendations of standout beer options to pair with this collection of recipes. He includes sharp commentary to accompany each rec, so you can go all out on National Beer Day rest assured you're making strong choices.
1. Philly Cheesesteak Sliders
It doesn't take an expert to know that beef sliders make a delicious mate for a variety of beers. It's hard to go wrong with a juicy burger washed down by a cold one. Cooking For Keeps remixes the classic bar snack with another fast food favorite, the Philly Cheesesteak, for delectable results. The sliders deliver "infinite juiciness" with meat piled "high on toasted slider buns" and "lathered with sautéed green peppers and onions." Beers that are sour, tart, and even a little funky, like an American Brett or a Belgian-Style Flanders, highlight the roasted character of the steak and balance the beef broth.
Easy To Find: Duchesse De Bourgogne from Brouwerij Verhaeghe
"Just ask for the “Dutchess” when you order it, so the server doesn’t smirk when you totally butcher that Flemish name. Light but tart, this is a good starter for the world of sour beers and goes good with Cheesesteaks too!"
Alternate: Oude Tart by The Bruery
"Actually pretty easy to find too, but your wallet might be upset with you afterwards. And it comes only in large bottles unless you find it on draft, so have a friend or two with you. If you don’t know if you like sours, this beer might be a bit aggressive. If you know you like sours then bottoms up!"
2. Honey Beer Steamed Mussels With Herb Butter Baguettes
It's no surprise that this Belgian cuisine staple goes perfectly with Belgian beer. Shellfish pairs well with fruit and spicy brews, like a Belgian-Style Saison or even a German-Style Hefeweizen. The beer brings out the natural saltiness and sweetness of the seafood while also cleansing the palate. The recipe itself requires simmering the mussels in beer before garnishing with bacon and cilantro. Recipe creator How Sweet It Is serves the pot of mussels with "piles of perfectly toasted" baguettes "smothered in butter."
Easy To Find: Franziskaner Hefe-Weisse by Spaten-Franziskaner-Brau
"Available year-round, flavorful and a bit creamy; a solid brew. If the mussels aren’t enough to fill you up, this unfiltered wheat beer straight from Germany should finish you off. That spicy element you taste is actually from the yeast and how it processes the sugars during fermentation, not any adjuncts the brewers added."
Alternate: Any Saison or Imperial Saison from de Garde Brewing
"A bit harder to find outside of Oregon, but they make great beer and lots of it. If you’re just getting into the world of beer, de Garde is a fairly recent newcomer ( around three years old) and they’re just starting to establish themselves. Their Saisons are all light and airy with a sour tang at the back that you won’t be unhappy with; and many have fruits added to sweeten the deal."
3. BBQ Blue Cheese Chicken Pizza
This recipe by Foodie Crush delivers an overload of flavors to take on the complexities of a cold one. First, sautéed onion, garlic, oregano, and ricotta cheese are blended then spread throughout the crust before topped with chicken saturated in honey sweetened spicy barbecue sauce mixed in with blue cheese and pickled banana pepper for a "puckery punch." A dark and roasty brew like a Porter or Stout complements the spunky flavors while cutting through the fat.
Easy To Find: Xocoveza by Stone
"Pronounced 'cho-co-vay-sa.' Don’t say “XO” to the bartender. They don’t want your hugs or kisses, they want a nice tip and for you not to spill your beer everywhere. This is a widely distributed mocha stout brewed with pasilla peppers, nutmeg, vanilla, cinnamon, cocoa, and coffee. Great balance to that BBQ spicy sweetness."
Alternate: Bomb! By Prairie
"This beer is a wide release too but admittedly it comes in 12 ounce bottles and yes, it is pricey. This is an imperial stout brewed with chiles, vanilla, and coffee. Higher ABV than the Xocoveza (about 13 percent). Might be good to sip during the meal and continue for dessert."
4. Newcastle Brown Ale Pulled Duck Tacos
Nachos are a popular pairing with beer, but this concoction by I Am A Food Blog takes the go-to next level by way of duck. The duck is browned for crispiness, then added to a pot of (spoiler alert for the forthcoming pairing) Newcastle Brown Ale, fennel, shallots, and garlic. Once cooked, the skin of the duck is removed, shredded, and "fried to make crispy duck cracklings" which serve as a dynamic layer in the nachos, along with sliced red chili peppers, duck fat fried shallots, British cheddar, and of course, shredded duck. It goes without saying the results go terrifically with an American Brown Ale like Newcastle, but also can be paired with a lighter American Pale Ale. Anything hoppy and bitter complement the meaty complexity of the duck.
Easy To Find: Newcastle Brown Ale
"Because — duh — if you used it to make the tacos, you should make sure you buy enough to drink some!"
Alternate: Moose Drool by Big Sky
"For some reason they only distribute west of the Mississippi (seriously, their distribution map looks like the textbook graphic for the Louisiana Purchase), so if you’re on the East Coast it's time for a road trip (Chicago is your closest bet). Very subtle hints of spice in this, and the larger flavor is a smooth mouthfeel and caramel sweetness. Not cloying, but enjoyable."
5. Teriyaki Salmon
For something a bit more exotic, this easy teriyaki salmon recipe by Natasha's Kitchen doesn't require lengthy marinating but still delivers full flavor with its homemade sauce. It goes without saying that the Japanese-inspired dish goes great with a Japanese beer, like Sapporo or Kirin Ichiban.
Easy To Find: Sapporo Premium by Sapporo
"Drink it ice cold and have many at one time to achieve desired affect."
Alternate: Hitachina Nest White Ale by Kiuchi
"Actually pretty easy to find in any reputable beer or liquor store. Tastes a bit like alcoholic orange juice. That’s a good thing. Yes, it is."
6. Whipped Ricotta With Lemon And Olive Oil
If you're looking to keep it simple, this recipe by Joy The Baker adds a little gourmet zest to your typical beer and cheese pairing. The ricotta is beaten until smooth and fluffy, then upgraded with "a big pinch of sea salt and fresh cracked pepper." Spread the creamy cheese generously on toasted baguette slices and pair with brew that's hoppy and bitter like American Black Ale or a dark roast like English-Style Brown Porter. The beer will cut through and balance the strong flavors of the cheese. If you go with the Ale, the hoppy structure will contrast with the creaminess of the cheese while allowing for a complex finish.
Easy To Find: Back in Black by 21st Amendment
"Comes in a can, as all badass beers should and do. It pours with a lot of foam (even if you try really hard), but that goes away quickly so be patient. The hops meld with a sugary taste, but to call it sweet wouldn't be accurate. Bittersweet is way to cliché, but that’s kind of where the flavor is headed. It has a light body and a creamy taste but the carbonation gives it a refreshing crispness."
Alternate: Wookey Jack by Firestone Walker
"It has a creamy feel to it but the flavor is the fun part. A bit of a roller-coaster for your mouth: Hoppy, then malty and spicy, then it finishes hoppy. Must be at least 21 to ride this ride. No children (obviously)."
7. Cajun Shrimp and Sausage Skewers
Beer and sausage are a time-honored pairing, and this zesty number by Damn Delicious gives the traditional dish a spicy twist. The recipe is straightforward but delivers bold cajun spice underscored by Sriracha. You go down one of two roads with this recipe, either keeping it simple with a nice Lager or really turning up the heat.
Easy To Find: Yuengling Lager by Yuengling
"With all the spice in this food, don’t try to toss a beer on top of that. You need something to help you while you gasp for breath, your eyes tearing up and sweat pouring down your face as you realize 'Sriracha isn’t my thing.' Here's a classic lager for the classic need to wash all that fire out of your mouth. Decent flavor but you should drink it ice-cold so it helps with the burns on your tongue."
Alternate: Ghost Face Killah by Twisted Pine
"We tried to warn you, but if you want more spice, it’s your funeral. This beer is brewed with Anaheim, fresno, jalapeno, serrano, habanero, and ghost chiles. What does it taste like? What do you think it tastes like? Six effing chiles crammed into 12 ounces of slightly hoppy water."
8. Triple Cheese And Corn-Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms
For a vegetarian accompaniment to your brew, try these portobello mushrooms decked out in corn salsa and a generous dollop of cheese. The fast and easy recipe by Averie Cooks "makes for a fuss-free appetizer" fully loaded with spice and texture from the salsa and extra flavor from the addition of breadcrumbs. Heat things up with a pinch of cayenne, and a dark and roasty accompaniment like an Irish-Style Dry Stout or a German-Style Schwarzbier is just the thing to wash it down.
Easy To Find: Bohemian Black Lager by Spoetzl Brewery/Shiner
"Comes from Texas but sounds like Germany. A pretty middle of the road beer. Slightly refreshing, slightly sweet, slightly thick, slightly everything. If you shied away from the pepper in the recipe, this beer makes sense for you."
Alternate: Guinness Extra Stout (Original) by Guinness
"Obviously we had to go with Guinness. But not your normal nitro or draught. We kicked it up a notch (bam). This is what England and Ireland drink — not that swill they send over to their old colonies (we get it, you’re still not over the breakup). A bit thicker, a bit creamier, and bit more body to it. Not hoppy at all. A good cap to the meal."
9. Roasted Green Bean Spring Rolls
These green bean spring rolls are a great vegetarian option on the lighter side. Recipe creator Naturally Ella says they can be made vegan by substituting the honey, and they're tasty enough to be enjoyed without a sauce. Especially when you're washing them down with a crisp German-Style Hefeweizen.
Easy To Find: Turbodog by Abita
"One of the flagship beers by Abita. Dark brown color and a rich flavor but a surprisingly mild body (so it won’t fill you up). It somehow fits a chocolately toffee flavor in there without being overly sweet."
Alternate: Omission Pale Ale/Lager/IPA by Widmer Brothers
"If you chose the gluten-free route for this meal, why not have a gluten-free beer with it too? Available in all 50 of the states if you just look for it, these three are some of the better gluten-free beers out there. There are some real duds in this area of the beer world, so be warned."
10. Brown Rice Risotto With Mushrooms And Fresh Oregano
For some heavier vegetarian fare, this flavorful brown rice risotto "may not be a looker" but Cookie And Kate promises, "good gracious, it's delicious" with its "wanna-curl-up-in-the-bowl goodness." The dish boasts a "light nuttiness and tender bite that pairs perfectly with sautéed mushrooms" and also pairs perfectly with a clean and crisp brew like an American Amber Lager or Bohemian-Style Pilsner with complementary grain flavors.
Easy To Find: Prima Pils by Victory
"Pours golden with a frothy head and plenty of lacing (the pattern the foam bubbles leave on the glass as the head dissipates). Flora aromas and a floral taste with hops at the end are this beer. The hops really bring it hope, and for a Pilsner style that is a bit unusual. But it works well in the beer."
Alternate: Barking Squirrel Lager by Hop City (in Ontario, Canada)
"The label alone makes this beer but if you actually want to hear about the flavor, read on I suppose. It does what lagers should do and has a burnt orange color (hence the amber part in the style name). It is very drinkable. A little sweetness to keep you coming back to it but not so much it makes you slow down. And it has some hops on the end to cleanse the palate after each sip. Just like a barking squirrel. Whatever that is."
11. Pork Chops With Lemon Basil Cream Sauce
These perfect pork chops by Damn Delicious get next level good with "the most heavenly cream sauce" she promises you won't be able to get enough of. Balance the intensity of the pork fat with the strong beer characteristics of an Imperial IPA or a Belgian-Style Dubbel and you'll have a juicy dish that can stand up to the boldness your super-hoppy drink.
Easy To Find: Stone Enjoy By... IPA by Stone
"Quick crash course in hops and IPAs. You shouldn’t cellar IPAs. Usually that lets the hops fade and disappear. That means that IPAs can literally taste different the older they get. And not in a good way. There are obviously exceptions to this, but generally hops fade, just like all flavors fade. Stone made this beer to give average-joe drinkers a clue to when to drink their beer. Namely, drink it before whatever date is in the title. Everyone should try Enjoy By at least once — ideally before the date on the label has passed. Or even buy two bottles and try one a few weeks past the date, to see for yourself. Yay science."
Alternate: Heady Topper by The Alchemist
"They don’t distribute outside of Vermont, but do you really need another excuse to go to America’s winter playground? World class IPA, it has hops that will slap your face but make you turn the other cheek asking for another can when all of a sudden you realize you drank the entire case and where is your shirt and holy shit it gets cold in Vermont this time of year. Citrusy flavor, slightly tart lemony afternote, and of course the hops."
12. Dark Chocolate, Sea Salt, And Toasted Coconut Popcorn
Whip up this tasty snack-meets-dessert by Simply Scratch and satisfy both your sweet tooth and salty tooth simultaneously. The chocolate drizzle is achieved with four ounces of dark chocolate along with organic coconut oil that's "nuked" until it's "smooth as silk." Sprinkle with sea salt and set in the fridge and you've just made the ultimate bowl of popcorn perfection that's ready to be washed down with an English-Style Barley Wine or Belgian-Style Lambic.
Easy To Find: Mirror Mirror by Deschutes
"Released every four to five years in bottles but comes around on draft pretty frequently. Plus some of those cellared bottles are dynamite so don’t turn them down either. Its last release was 2014 but you can probably find them on the shelves of a good beer store. Pours a dark murky brown and smells like dark fruits and red wine. The taste is brown sugar and raisins and as the beer warms in your hand the alcohol comes out stronger and stronger (not a bad thing necessarily)."
Alternate: Bourbon Barrel Aged Shipwreck Porter by Arcadia
"A decadent dessert deserves a decadent beer. Harder to find, brewed in winter and not that widely distributed, but worth it. Flavors of molasses, charred oak, fudge-covered cocoa beans, and other seriously good stuff. Start with it slightly chilled and let it warm as you sip it, the flavors will come out stronger and stronger."
13. Key Lime Pie Bars
For lovers of tart desserts, try Hummingbird High's take on key lime pie transformed in a lemon bar format. Crushed pistachios are mixed into the traditional graham cracker crust for "a little somethin' somethin' extra." The sour sweets go well with a Berliner or lighter sour beer.
Easy To Find: Lindemans [Insert Fruit Here] by Brouwerij Lindemans
"These are pretty well-distributed lambics. Depending on your tastes, you can find a variety you like. Their Framboise is my personal favorite, because I like raspberries and 'Framboise' is Belgian for raspberry (probably). These beers will smell a little acidic (in a good way) and go from sweet to tart and back. Not too heavy on the tart. Another good starter beer for learning to love the sour beer world (which everyone should)."
Alternate: Athena by Creature Comforts
"They only distribute to Georgia right now, but expect big things out of Creature Comforts. This is a perfect Berliner, sold in a can and ready for you to tube down the river with a cooler tethered behind you. Easy drinking, a little tart, but well-carbonated so it's refreshing on a hot day. If you can somehow find the Athena Paradiso variant (made with cherries, cranberries and raspberries), get all of it that you can. And then drink it all, don’t even share with your beer friends. They don’t deserve it. You deserve it."
14. Irish Whiskey And Stout Cake
This chocolatey dream calls for stout beer in the recipe by The Little Epicurean, for super moist results. Top that off with a whiskey cream cheese frosting, contrasting with tanginess that adds "a nice burst of brightness" and you have a delectable treat that offers "the essence and sweet flavors of whiskey without the alcohol taste." Come full circle and wash down with a stout beer, or better yet, a chocolate stout. Now you can have your beer in your cake and eat and drink it too.
Easy To Find: Dragon’s Milk by New Holland
"Look. There are dozens of amazing, limited-release, one-off, hard-to-find stouts out there. But chances are, if you have access to those, you probably don’t need this recommendation. Dragon’s Milk is a good, solid stout that you won’t have to camp out in line for 17 hours for. It has been aged in oak barrels so you get a good woody flavor, plus some vanilla and malts added to the very solid stout character of the beer. It isn’t waxed-sealed and it doesn’t have a hand-labeled bottle count written on it — it’s just a good stout that’s easy to find."
Alternate: Bourbon County Brand Stout by Goose Island
"Harder to find but not too hard, you just need to know when to look, not necessarily where to look. Released every year around Thanksgiving, this is a beer you should stock up on — then slowly drink the seven cases you bought throughout the next several years. It ages well, but is great right now too. It's a stout, so has a dark color pour and small head of foam to start, and the basic taste is sweeter and fuller than other beers. You have a very chewy mouthfeel in this beer, with chocolatey flavors coating your mouth and a pleasing sweetness that blends vanilla and coconut (sometimes even coffee or cherries if you have a really good palate) in the aftertaste. Sip this beer in your favorite smoking jacket while you watch a loop on YouTube of a fireplace crackling (real fireplaces are expensive and smoky, the fake stuff works just fine as long as you have enough BCBS to keep you warm)."
Images: I Am A Food Blog, Cooking For Keeps, How Sweet It Is, Foodie Crush, Natasha's Kitchen, Joy The Baker, Damn Delicious (2), Averie Cooks, Naturally Ella, Cookie And Kate, Simply Scratch, Hummingbird High, The Little Epicurean