We tapped Matt Barclay of Bierkraft, Brooklyn’s one-stop shop for beer, meat and cheese, to walk us through his favorite antipasti pairings.
Classic Bruschetta & Schönramer Gold
Barclay says a lightly toasted märzen like Schönramer Gold bolsters crunchy crostini, while sweet grains accentuate the bright tomatoes, and complement the lighter side of the onions. Peppery noble hops cut through the pungent garlic as the beer’s sharp finish wraps up dry on the tongue.
ProscIutto & Hoegaarden
“Pair delicate, thin-sliced cured ham with an equally delicate white ale,” Barclay suggests. Prosciutto’s chewy yet melt-in-your-mouth texture calls for a beer that complements the salt-cured meat without detracting from its quiet sweetness. Hoegaarden’s coriander spice garnishes the ham with sharp herbal notes, while bright lemon and orange flavors tease out some sweetness from behind the meat’s salty profile. Tart wheat and vibrant carbonation help wash down the fat.
Artichoke Hearts & Helles Schlenkerla Lager
Barclay says the mild smokiness and rich malt character of Schlenkerla’s helles lager makes an incredible statement against artichoke hearts’ briny, earthy qualities. While the beer lays down toasty, smoky malts, the artichoke’s sweet-and-salty vegetal flavors sing above, creating a captivating layered sensation on the tongue. Earthy hops accentuate the pickled vegetable before the beer’s crisp finish washes the buttery artichoke down.
Aged Provolone & St. Bernardus Prior 8
Alone, a dubbel and aged Provolone present an array of bold flavors, but their complementary sweetness makes them a dynamic match. “The beer is big and malty up front, followed by some fruit, and finishes really dry, just like the cheese,” Barclay notes. A bite of sharp Provolone coats the tongue with layers of salt, sweet fruit and nutty undertones; Prior 8 counters with raisin and plum notes, drawing out the cheese’s brighter flavors for an extended run before a dry finish settles in.
Sicilian Olives & Baryerischer Bahnhof Leipziger Gose
Sicilian olives explode in the mouth with salty brine, earthiness and sourness—flavors mirrored in gose, says Barclay. Leipziger Gose, a sour ale brewed with salted water and coriander, adds tart notes to already punchy olives, while the briny fruit draws out the beer’s underlying saltiness. The beer’s coriander spice matches the olives’ deep herbal notes. Beneath the eruption of flavors is a fusion of earthy and tart that lasts long on the tongue.
Peperoncini & Verhaeghe Duchesse De Bourgogne
“To tame the heat of these peppers, I’d suggest a mildly sour Flanders red,” says Barclay. Duchesse de Bourgogne’s luscious ripened fruit flavors and sour kick elevates the little peppers from an antipasti afterthought to an addictive snack. The beer’s fruity notes emphasize the pepper’s sweetness, while its sourness is sliced by the pepper’s superhot seeds. Although sweet notes headline this pairing, the pepper’s heat latches onto the beer’s acidic bite, leaving the tongue tingling long after the flavor-packed swallow.
Fresh Mozzarella & Silver City Fat Scotch Ale
“Strong Scotch ales have rich malt profiles with a touch of hop bitterness on the finish, which balance the cheese nicely,” says Barclay. Moist, soft mozzarella entraps the smooth toffee and dried dark fruit sweetness in Silver City’s version, keeping the beer’s flavors around just a little bit longer and making the drink’s already creamy mouthfeel even denser. The cheese’s slightly sour milk and salty notes cut the Scotch ale’s malty sweetness, paving the way for the beer’s earthy bitterness and carbonation to clean the tongue.
Roasted Red Pepper & Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
The combination of sweet pepper scents and citrusy hops creates “an aroma to die for,” says Barclay, and the fusion of flavors is just as enchan-ting. Bite down on the soft, roasted pepper, and notice the sweet vegetal bitterness and a spicy sting. Then, sip the beer, and notice how its bitterness seems to connect with the pepper’s spice; the drink picks up precisely where the pepper leaves off. Citric hop notes carry the pepper’s sweetness into the finish for a pairing that’s seamless from bite to swallow.
Genoa Salami & Samuel Adams Revolutionary Rye Ale
This sausage’s peppercorn and fennel seed flavors pose a challenge for pairing, but Barclay suggests a rye beer armed with similar sharpness. “Rye has that spicy feel to it that plays along with the salami spice,” he says. Greasy and fatty, salami coats the tongue; a swig of Sam Adams’ rye cuts through the thick texture, while its sharp rye notes amp up the peppery flavors in the meat. The brew’s toffee flavors deepen the meat’s sweet side while the spice combo bristles the tongue.
Capicola & Bohemian Czech Pilsener
Tony Soprano’s favorite deli meat finds a match in a vibrant Czech pils. “For such a hoppy beer, the bitterness is fairly mild and won’t overwhelm the salume,” assures Barclay. This beer’s floral notes dress up the ham’s musty aged quality, while its spicy hops match the meat’s peppercorn bite. A splash of grainy malts creates a breadlike base for the heavy, fatty meat to sink into before the beer’s spritzy, carbonic bite nicely foils the meat without overpowering the experience.