The Best Beers for Your Summer Salads

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Oh, summer: ’Tis the season for heat, humidity and the freshest produce around.

That means salads take centre stage, especially on days when it’s just too hot to turn on the oven. And, well, you can make friends with salad — especially if you serve it with the right beer. Here are some fresh ideas to get you started.

Taco salad and lager

You’ve probably already discovered that lager goes nicely with tacos. The same is true for taco salad, and this beer s crisp, thirst-quenching finish helps balance richer ingredients, such as that tasty cheese-and-sour-cream garnish. Try a Vienna-style or amber lager; the extra malt sweetness will stand up especially well to the bold flavours of dairy, meat (or meat alternative) and spices in a taco salad.

Caesar salad and light ale

A classic Caesar salad is delicious because its flavours are fresh and mild. Think about the hint of garlic and tangy Parmesan in the dressing, the subtle flavour of the romaine, the zip of lemon juice and maybe a bit of juicy chicken breast on top. You don’t want your beer to overpower the salad, so an ale that’s not too hoppy, like a Belgian-style golden ale, a kolsch (also known as a “lagered ale”) or a domestic pale ale, is an ideal mate.

Panzanella and hoppy ale

This summery Italian salad includes tomatoes, cucumber, onions and vinegar-soaked bread. Fresh basil ties the whole thing together, and it’s the aromatic ingredient you want to think about when you’re looking for a beer to match with panzanella. Grab a hoppy pale ale — English- or American-style — to complement this salad s herbal zest.

Tabbouleh and witbier

Speaking of herbs, Middle Eastern–style tabbouleh makes chopped fresh parsley the star of the show (though mint is often in the mix, too). Belgian-style witbier, or “white beer,” has a complexity and lightness that goes well with this bulgur-based salad. With its citrus and coriander flavours, witbier enhances — but won’t upstage — tabbouleh s vibrant flavours. Want to make it even tastier? Rehydrate dried bulgur in beer instead of water!

Potato salad and pilsner or Munich-style lager

Salad-and-beer combos don’t have to be complicated to be good. As a matter of fact, some of the simplest are the most delicious. A creamy potato salad — especially one that includes something meaty, like sausage or salami — is so good with a crisp, German-style lager. The beer balances the salad’s starchiness and creaminess.

Salade niçoise and saison

Salade niçoise combines tuna, green beans, tomatoes, eggs, baby potatoes and black olives. It’s one of those combinations that doesn’t sound like it should work, but, man, does it ever. Saisons evolved from the beers that were once given to thirsty farmhands in French-speaking parts of Europe. They have a tang that complements the vinegar and mustard of niçoise dressing — perfect for the thirsty work of enjoying a summer evening with friends.

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