Brooks on Beer: How to pick the perfect beer to pair with your pizza

Is there a better combination than pizza and beer? Nope.

Is there anything better than pizza and beer? The answer is a resounding “no.”

Here’s my scientific and sensory explanation for why these two go together so well. The crust, cheese, and sauce components of pizza each contribute something unique to the fermentation, textures, and flavors of beer, mingling to create magical mouthfuls that, as Mary Poppins would say, are practically perfect in every way.

Both pizza and beer are fermented products that are made with grains. Yeast causes the dough to rise by consuming the wort — a mixture of water and malted grains such as barley or wheat — to produce alcohol, carbonation, and the complex flavors of beer.

Pizza requires cheese, and cheese goes exceptionally well with beer. While many argue that wine and cheese are the best combinations, many sommeliers I know will admit that the best a wine can do is not get in the way. Beer with cheese, on the other hand, is a magical combination. Beer’s bitterness and crispness cut through the fattiness and creaminess of cheese. And the carbonation in beer, combined with the acidity, cleans the palate with scrubbing bubbles, preparing you for the next slice.

Then there’s the sauce: While no two pizza sauces are identical, the basic sauce is tomato-based, similar to marinara but thicker with herbs like oregano, basil, and thyme, black pepper, garlic, onions, and even sugar.

The key is to figure out how that complex mélange of flavors interacts with the often equally complex flavors of your beer. If either stands out too much, try a different beer. In general, when selecting a beer, you should focus on the toppings because almost any beer goes well with the core pizza components: crust, cheese, and sauce.

Personal preference, as with anything related to taste, is most important, but here are a few tried and true pairings to get you started.

Cheese pizza: A basic pilsner or similar lager should be paired with a basic pizza. One with bright, clean flavors would be ideal. A dark lager or schwarzbier would also be delicious.

Margherita pizza: A refreshing, lighter style like helles, saison, or witbier would be ideal, as you don’t want the more delicate flavors of this pizza to be overpowered. A more delicate pale ale or Czech pilsner would also be excellent.

Meat lover’s pizza: Just like the pepperoni, you’ll want something big or spicy to stand up to the big meat flavors. A West Coast IPA, a Belgian-style tripel, a bock, or even a barleywine may suffice. A refreshing black lager or schwarzbier, on the other hand, could be sublime.

Brown ale, porter, or stout — something dark and malty to complement the umami in the mushrooms is ideal. If the mushroom flavors are strong enough, a black IPA, rauchbier, or smoked beer could also work.

Blonde ale, Märzen, Vienna lager, pilsner, or a spicy saison would all complement the variety of flavors on a pizza topped with vegetables. A well-carbonated beer, such as a Kolsch or witbier, would also work well.

Yes, I know it’s a contentious pie, but if you’re having one, a hazy or juicy IPA with lots of tropical flavors should complement the pineapple nicely. Your old standby pilsner would also suffice. If you prefer your beer sour, try one of Anderson Valley’s fruited Goses.

The best thing about beer and pizza pairing is that there are no wrong answers. Pizza, no matter how you slice it, tastes better with beer.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply