There are nights when your most valuable food prep tool isn’t even in the kitchen — it’s an app on your phone. And if delivery is the easiest dinner option, beer is its ultimate companion. But what goes best with your order-in choice of the day? We’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to the beer styles that taste best with the international cuisines we order in.
Thai: The go-to beer for Thai food is pale lager, and it definitely works. But as an alternative, a dark lager or saison contrasts nicely with Thai flavours and delivers an extra dimension to the food. The sour zip of the saison, for example, goes beautifully with tamarind, while the malty sweetness of dark lager complements a lightly charred satay skewer.
Indian: As with Thai food, you might reach for a pale lager with Indian fare. That’s not a bad instinct at all. (It works! It’s tasty!). But a hoppy pale ale is worth trying, too. Hear us out: There’s all kinds of sweetness, aroma and (of course) heat in the spice blends that go into popular order-in Indian dishes like vindaloo and Madras curry. An India pale ale (IPA) or American-style pale ale is bold enough to hold its own against all that powerful flavour — and the oils from the hops will help quench the fire while you’re washing down each bite.
Fish and chips: Geography is a big hint here. While fish and chips have been a staple takeout food across Ontario for as long as anyone can remember, many of us still think of it as a British dish. To a true fan, fish and chips wouldn’t taste the same without malt vinegar. And adding a malty British-style pale ale Well, that’s just good sense, mate.
Mexican: Mexican food is a flavour party, with a colourful variety of ingredients. You could wash it all down with a tried-and-true pale lager (complete with signature lime wedge) or try something unexpected, like bock, Vienna-style or amber lager. These varieties offer sweetness to harmonize with the corn and/or tortilla, and the herbal aroma of hops balances the cilantro and spice — which is especially important if you overdo it on the hot sauce.
Chinese: If your Chinese order features spicy dishes like kung pao chicken or Mongolian beef, sip an IPA, an American pale ale or another hoppy style of beer that can match the heat with bold bitterness. Fans of classic, golden starters and sides — like egg rolls and fried rice — may opt instead for a lighter type of beer, like a helles lager, to keep from feeling too full.
Greek: As with Chinese takeout, Greek food tends to come with a lot of starchy sides — sometimes rice, potatoes and pitas all in the same combo. You won’t want to pair those with a beer that’s too heavy or you’ll never make it through your gyro meal. We suggest dark lager, which, contrary to popular belief, isn’t a heavy-textured brew. Dark lager are made with roasted malt, which pairs beautifully with the char on the edges of a souvlaki skewer. Alternatively, try a witbier (Belgian white beer). It has a yeasty character that harmonizes nicely with the dairy flavours of feta and tzatziki, and it also contains citrus peel, which will take the place of the squeeze of lemon sometimes used as a finishing touch on souvlaki platters.
Korean: One of the ingredients that defines Korean cuisine is kimchi, the fermented, spicy side dish made of cabbage, radish and other veggies. It’s a tough ingredient to pair with any beverage, but beer has the best chance of working. A sour beer is a logical choice, because it matches the sourness of kimchi. Some beer geeks, however, find that an IPA is the right pairing, simply because one extreme flavour loves another.
Sushi: Pale lager is an ideal beer choice for sushi — and the drier the better. The flavours and aromas of sushi are subtle and normally get overwhelmed by a strongly flavoured accompaniment. A subtle, not-too-hoppy lager will help you savour every morsel. But wait! Believe it or not, a darker porter is also a surprisingly good partner with sushi. Added bonus: Beer is a wonderful heat stopper if you happen to get a super-spicy bite of dynamite roll or overdo it on the wasabi.