Here, we’ve matched up classic holiday dishes with the best brews and given you reccos for the ideal glasses to serve them. But, hey, don’t sweat it if you don’t have ale chalices or pub-style pints in your collection — these pairings will be just as tasty in whatever is on the shelf.
A traditional Christmas lineup featuring turkey and stuffing is famously hearty. To keep from feeling as stuffed as the bird you’re carving, go for a light-bodied beer. Pilsner is perfect: it’s dry and crisp, but hoppy, too — and goes nicely with the herbs in the stuffing. Pale ale works for similar reasons.
Glass: Choose a tall, skinny pilsner glass, or a pub-style pint glass for pale ale.
Tourtière + Belgian-style ale or dark ale
A Belgian-style ale is the ideal match for this classic Québécois meat pie. Frothy, big-flavoured beers like this one work well with hearty dishes, and their malt flavours pair deliciously with tourtière’s buttery crust. The roasty flavours of dark ales are another solid choice with this — or any — wintry meat pie.
Glass: A chalice-shaped Belgian ale glass helps channel those fresh, malty aromas straight to your nostrils. For dark ales, a standard pint glass is fine.
Latkes + Belgian-style golden ale
Whether you prefer a sweet or savoury topping for your potato pancakes, Belgian ale is the go-to choice (again). Its malty sweetness is so good with those crispy-edged shredded potatoes. Plus, this beer’s foamy bubbles help sweep away any oiliness on your tongue between bites.
Glass: Grab a Belgian ale chalice again. If you don’t have any on hand, a stemmed wineglass is a good substitute.
Fruitcake or Christmas pudding + seasonal winter ale
Don’t regift that fruitcake! (Trust us, it’s so good with the right beer.) You want a fireside, slow-sipping beer for this memorable dessert moment — and that means spiced winter ales, barleywines or dark Belgian-style ales. These varieties all feature dried fruit flavours (like date and raisin) that will sing in harmony with the dried fruits in old-fashioned Christmas desserts.
Glass: A smallish (10 ounce/300 mL or so) stemmed glass is great for any of these rich styles. Sip, sip, hooray!
Stouts and porters often have chocolate and coffee flavours, thanks to the long-roasted barley that goes into them. So if you’re feeding a table full of chocolate fiends, stock up on all your favourite stouts. And make sure everyone takes their treats for a dunk in them. It’ll be true love.
Glass: Pub-style pint or stemmed 16-ounce (475 mL) glasses are these beers’ best friends.
Haggis + red ale, brown ale or Scottish ale (of course)
If you’ve never attended a Burns Night feast in honour of Scottish poet Robert Burns, mark Jan. 25 on your calendar and make 2020 the year! This traditional feast centres around haggis, a kind of mutton sausage. (It’s way tastier than some descriptions make it sound, we promise; plus, vegetarian haggis is an option if you’re not into meat.) Scottish ales — with their big, sweet malt flavours — are culturally, as well as culinarily, ideal, but many red or brown ales work well, too. Wintry spiced meat dishes are great with robust ales, because substantial meals call for substantial beers.
Glass: A pint glass is best, but a pewter tankard will channel that 18th-century tavern vibe.
Dumplings + dark lager
Lunar New Year, which kicks off some East Asian calendars, also falls on Jan. 25, 2020. Tender little pockets of dough stuffed with savoury fillings are a must on this holiday’s buffet tables. Dark lager is light bodied, so it’ll leave you feeling satisfied but not too full, and its sweet, roasty malt flavour complements the soy in dumplings and dipping sauces. Plus, it’s versatile, so it’ll play nicely with all the dishes at a big banquet.
Glass: A tall, thin pilsner glass is just right for dark lager.