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How to pair your pasta with beer

A red serving spoon sticks out of a skillet filled with pesto-coated penne pasta, with a fork and a glass of golden beer standing alongside.

Give your noodles a lift! Here are the best beers for all sorts of pasta dishes, from meaty bolognese to veggie primavera to creamy alfredo — and more

You might not think of beer when you’re making pasta, but it’s definitely worth a twirl.

Why does this combo work? Pasta can feel heavy, while beer is refreshing, so the pairing creates a tasty balance. And with so many varieties of pasta and beer (we have more than a thousand brews in stock, after all), and a huge range of flavours and aromas to mix and match, there are tons of interesting combinations you can try.

We’ll help you get started. Get some brews chilling and the water boiling, and check out these amazing beer-and-pasta pairings. We’ve suggested an ideal noodle for each sauce, but you can sub in whatever shape you like.

Penne with simple tomato sauce + British-style ale

Marinara? Pomodoro? Your nonna’s recipe? Whatever you call a basic tomato-and-basil sauce, it’s best with British beer, believe it or not. The tea-like bitterness of an English-style pale ale (also known as a “bitter”) complements the herbal aromas, while the malt enhances the sweetness of the cooked tomatoes. Cheerio and buon appetito!

Spaghetti bolognese + red ale

Another beer style with origins in the British Isles, malty red ale gives you a balance of sweetness and moderate hoppy bitterness. That makes it the BFF of bolognese sauce, which is a mix of meat, veg, herbs and tomatoes. Try this brew with our Multicooker Beef Bolognese with Red Ale, because it’s always a great idea to pair a dish with the same beer you cooked with. Red ale is also tasty with other tomato-and-meat-sauce pastas, like lasagna or spaghetti and meatballs.

Fettuccine alfredo + pilsner

Creamy pastas are always crave-worthy, but they can weigh you down. What you want alongside is a crisp beer, like a pilsner. Its generous helping of hops will cut through the dairy’s richness, while its light body will refresh your palate. Try it out with spaghetti carbonara, cacio e pepe and other creamy or cheesy pasta dishes. (Dare we say mac and cheese?)

Penne all’arrabbiata + India pale ale (IPA)

Hot enough for ya? The Italian name for these fiery noodles means “angry pasta,” and that says it all. This dish gets in your face with a dialled-up dose of hot peppers in the tangy tomato sauce. Luckily, IPA also offers extreme flavour, thanks to its hopped-up bitterness. And that can mean only one thing: IPA is epic enough to match this dish. You might even want to add a splash to the pot while you’re cooking the sauce.

Rotini primavera + pale wheat beer

Got a good produce haul from the farmers’ market? Then whip up a perfect primavera to showcase in-season green veggies, like peas and asparagus. A light, sweet, pale wheat beer (a.k.a. hefeweizen or weizenbier) will boost their fresh flavours. It’ll also add some spice, like a twist of freshly cracked pepper.

Pappardelle with Tuscan-style meat ragù + dark ale

Looking for a hearty dish for a cold night? A long-simmered central-Italian-style meat sauce, or ragù, on thick, flat noodles is wonderfully warming. (Think bolognese but less tomato-ey.) It’s often made with game meats, like boar or rabbit, plus earthy herbs and flavourings, like thyme, juniper and rosemary. Complex, full-bodied dark ales — Belgian-style, for example — can match the richness and spices of this dish.

Spaghettini with pesto + American pale ale

Let’s switch gears from fall to summer. Fresh, sunny, Genovese-style basil pesto loves citrus, and American pale ale delivers it via its zippy hops. Hot tip: Try this brew with pesto-based pizza, too.

Linguine with clam sauce + saison or farmhouse ale

Simple seafood pastas are a weeknight slam dunk — they’re quick to make and not too heavy. They can be salty, though. Light-bodied, refreshing and slightly acidic, saisons and farmhouse ales were originally designed to quench thirst, so they’re the best choice. These suds also work amazingly well with dishes that call for a squeeze of lemon.

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