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Pairing beer with holiday party appetizers

Serve your guests small bites with small pours to match.
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Photo by Ed Rudolph, styling by Marcella Capasso

Photo by Ed Rudolph, styling by Marcella Capasso

Throw a holiday party people will still be talking about in 2016.

Ham and Cheese Croquettes & IPA
A croquette’s crispy fried crust contains an irresistible combination of smoky ham and gooey cheese; it only tastes better with a citrus-forward IPA (search for one with grapefruit, pineapple or tangerine notes). The beer’s bright hops enliven the bite, and give the croquette an unexpected fruity lift (like chunks of pineapple on a Hawaiian pizza).

Baked Brie & American Wild Ale
The funky, horseblanket and barnyard notes of a tart American wild ale are wonderfully rustic companions to smooth, buttery brie, whether it’s served plain or with crackers and jam.

Bacon-Wrapped Filet Mignon & Porter
A peppery, bacon-wrapped filet mignon served on a toothpick for effortless eating is sure to be a crowd favorite. Up the ante with a porter pairing; the beer’s sweet chocolate harmonizes with the savory bacon, while sturdy roast augments the steak’s char.

Shrimp Cocktail & Berliner Weiss
A Berliner Weiss’ lemony tartness is an easy complement to briny shrimp; throw in the cocktail sauce and you’ll find a similar tartness that holds the pairing together, while the sauce’s horseradish adds zippy spice.

Italian Meatballs & Rye Pale Ale
While you may not want to reveal exactly what’s in your secret meatball recipe, guests can probably bet on a healthy dose of spices like garlic, oregano and pepper. Those flavors play perfectly with a rye pale ale’s spicy additions; select a version with a sturdy malt base to play up the meat’s sweetness.

Puffed Pastry with Spinach & California Common
This airy pastry with a simple, earthy spinach center finds an equally measured partner in a California common beer; similarly earthy and woody hop tones draw out the spinach, while a crisp, lager finish cleans up the buttery crust.

Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese & Bourbon Barrel-Aged Stout
There are few things as indulgent as mac ‘n’ cheese flecked with buttery lobster; the same could be said of bourbon barrel-aged stouts. The sumptuous meeting of smooth, melted cheese and the beer’s viscous vanilla barrel notes and chocolaty malts creates a velvety mouthful, while the bits of salty lobster still rise above the richness. In the finish, sturdy roast and alcohol spice chase the cheese away, readying your palate for the next luscious bite.


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