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Pairing beer with Thai food

Instead of overpowering the dishes' nuanced spices, these beers help them shine.
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Photo by Ed Rudolph // Food styling by John Anthony Galang

Photo by Ed Rudolph // Food styling by John Anthony Galang

Thai food can be tricky to pair with beer: It often has robust spice, but delicate, layered flavors. Turn to simple beers that will cool the tongue and stand alongside the dishes’ nuances.

Tom Yung Goong (Hot and Sour Thai Soup) & American Brown Ale
This soup’s broth is a sinus-clearing blend of lemongrass, kaffir lime, fish sauce and chili peppers. With these muscular flavors, a simple but sturdy beer is a must: A classic American brown ale’s toasted bread notes steady all of the tang and heat, like a slice of toast on the side.

Pad Thai & Black Saison
Certainly a traditional saison, with its sunny lemon and peppery spice, is a lovely match for the egg and lemongrass notes in this popular dish; however, a black saison’s roast connects with the peanut flavor to create an even deeper and more complex finish.

Coconut Curry Chicken & Schwarzbier
Chicken, carrots and potatoes swim in a rich and spicy coconut and yellow curry sauce; try this dish with a schwarzbier, whose nutty malts easily connect with coconut sweetness while the curry spice tingles unhindered. The beer’s firm roast and clean lager finish sweep the tongue clean.

Egg Roll & American Blonde Ale
A Thai egg roll’s crispy, salty shell encases crisp cabbage and carrots; it begs for a beer quiet enough not to overrun the lighter flavors. An American blonde ale’s simple bready malts draw out the shell’s sweetness and round the bite, but barely-there hops take a backseat while vegetable zing and sweet-and-sour dipping sauce pop on the tongue.

Mango and Sticky Rice & American IPA 
Juicy mango is the center point of this sweet dessert; seek out a tropical IPA that not only shares similar mango or pineapple or orange flavors that bolster the fruit, but also has enough assertive bitterness to chase the sweetness away and ready your palate for the next bite.


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