Pairing beer with pizza: The Pizza Chef
By Diana ClineFeatures In the Kitchen Recipes Trends pizza and beer pairing
Longtime readers of my column will be familiar with the wonderful ways beer-infused pizza doughs can enhance your menu. In this column I’ll speak to pairing beer with pizza.
Pairing beer with pizza is a delightful culinary adventure, and there are various factors to consider when selecting the perfect beer to complement your pizza.
It’s important to consider the beer’s flavour profile, the pizza toppings, and you and your clientele’s personal taste preferences.
Here’s a more in-depth guide to beer and pizza pairings:
Margherita pizza: Margherita pizza is known for its simplicity, featuring a tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella cheese, basil and a drizzle of olive oil. To complement the clean and light flavours of this classic pizza, opt for a light and crisp beer. Pilsners and lagers are excellent choices because their mild bitterness and effervescence won’t overpower the delicate ingredients, allowing the pizza’s freshness to shine.
Pepperoni pizza: Pepperoni pizza, with its spicy and savoury pepperoni slices, pairs well with a beer that can cut through the richness and spice. An India pale ale (IPA) can be an ideal match. IPAs are known for their hoppy and citrusy notes, which provide a pleasing contrast to the spiciness of the pepperoni while enhancing the overall flavour of the pizza.
Hawaiian pizza: Hawaiian pizza combines the sweetness of pineapple with the saltiness of ham. To harmonize with this sweet and savoury blend, consider a wheat beer or a fruit-infused beer. The fruity notes in these beers can enhance the sweetness of the pineapple and complement the ham’s saltiness, creating a well-balanced pairing.
Barbecue chicken pizza: Barbecue chicken pizza often features barbecue sauce, tender chicken and a mix of toppings like red onions, bacon and cilantro. To match the smokiness of the barbecue sauce and the roasted chicken, opt for a brown ale or a smoky porter. These beer styles have rich, roasted malt flavours that can complement the pizza’s smoky and savory elements.
Veggie pizza: Veggie pizzas come loaded with a variety of toppings, such as bell peppers, mushrooms, onions and tomatoes. For these diverse flavour profiles, a pale ale or a light amber ale can be a great choice. These beers provide a balanced flavour profile that complements the medley of vegetables without overshadowing them.
Meat lover’s pizza: Meat lover’s feature an assortment of meaty toppings like pepperoni, sausage and bacon. To stand up to the rich and savoury flavours of the meats, consider a robust stout or a dark beer. The deep, roasted malt character of these beers can hold their own alongside the rich and savoury flavours and the meaty goodness of the pizza.
Mushroom and truffle pizza: This gourmet pizza often features earthy mushrooms and truffle oil. To complement these delicate and umami-rich flavours, consider a Belgian dubbel or a saison. The fruity and spicy notes in these Belgian beer styles can accentuate the earthiness of the mushrooms and the aromatic truffle oil.
Spicy sausage and jalapeño pizza: For a pizza with a kick, featuring spicy sausage and jalapeños, a Belgian tripel or a hefeweizen can be a great match. These beers provide a slight sweetness and a touch of spice that can tame the heat while harmonizing with the savoury sausage.
Buffalo chicken pizza: Buffalo chicken pizza is known for its spicy buffalo sauce and tender chicken. Pair it with a pale ale or a witbier (a Belgian wheat beer) to balance the heat and enhance the flavours of the chicken. The citrusy and hoppy notes of a pale ale can complement the spiciness, while a witbier’s light and refreshing qualities provide a pleasant contrast.
White pizza (alfredo sauce): White pizza, often featuring alfredo sauce, garlic, and various cheeses, calls for a beer that won’t overwhelm the creamy richness. A witbier or a blond ale can be a delightful choice. These beers offer a mild sweetness and a touch of spice that can complement the garlic and creamy sauce without being too heavy.
Barbecue pulled pork pizza: This pizza is packed with smoky barbecue pulled pork and tangy barbecue sauce. To complement these bold and savoury flavours, consider a smoked beer (rauchbier) or a brown ale. The smoky and roasted malt notes in these beers can echo the barbecue elements and create a satisfying pairing.
Seafood pizza: Seafood pizzas, featuring ingredients like shrimp, clams, and mussels, are best paired with a Belgian witbier or a hefeweizen. The light and slightly fruity characteristics of these beers can harmonize with the seafood’s brininess and provide a refreshing contrast.
Barbecue beef brisket pizza: For a pizza with tender barbecue beef brisket and smoky flavours, consider a robust porter or a stout. The dark and roasted malt characteristics of these beers can complement the richness of the brisket and the barbecue sauce.
Pesto and goat cheese pizza: Pesto and goat cheese pizzas are known for their herbaceous and tangy profiles. A Belgian tripel or a blond ale can be a great choice to complement these flavours. The subtle sweetness and effervescence of these beers can enhance the pesto and goat cheese without overwhelming them.
Sausage and peppers pizza: A pizza featuring Italian sausage, bell peppers, and onions can pair nicely with a bock or a Vienna lager. These lager styles have a malty sweetness that can balance the spiciness of the sausage and the sweetness of the peppers.
Four cheese pizza: A classic four cheese pizza, with a blend of mozzarella, cheddar, parmesan and gorgonzola, can be wonderfully complemented by a pale or amber ale. These beers offer a balanced flavour profile with a mild bitterness that pairs well with the combination of cheese.
Bacon and egg breakfast pizza: Breakfast pizzas with bacon, eggs and cheese can be an excellent brunch option. Pair this pizza with a coffee stout or a porter. These dark beers have coffee and chocolate notes that can enhance the smokiness of the bacon and the richness of the eggs.
Artichoke and spinach pizza: Artichoke and spinach pizzas often feature a creamy white sauce. To enhance these creamy and herbaceous flavours, consider a wheat beer or a Belgian witbier. The light, citrusy and slightly spicy notes in these beers can complement the dish.
Mediterranean veggie pizza: Pizzas with Mediterranean-inspired toppings like olives, feta cheese and sun-dried tomatoes can be paired with a saison or a gose. These beers offer a touch of tartness and complexity that can harmonize with the Mediterranean flavours.
Don’t forget about calzones and panzerotties! These stuffed pizzas can be paired with a variety of beer styles, but a Czech pilsner or a Kölsch can work well. The crisp and clean characteristics of these beers can cut through the richness of the calzone’s fillings.
Remember that personal preference plays a significant role in beer and pizza pairings. Be open to experimentation and discover the combinations that delight your palate the most. You can also seek recommendations from your local brewery, as they may have specific suggestions based on their beer offerings.
The key is to offer an enjoyable experience for your clientele and let them savour the delicious synergy happening between beer and pizza.
Consider featuring a couple of your signature pizzas paired with local beers each month and switching it up to keep your customers coming back. The world of beer and pizza is full of exciting possibilities, so enjoy the journey of finding your favourite pairings.
Diana Cline is an award-winning pizza chef, a partner with Diana’s Cucina & Lounge in Winnipeg. In addition to creating award-winning recipes, Diana is a consultant to other pizzeria owner/operators in menu development, creating operational systems and marketing to help operators grow their business strategically. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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